Northern Rail set to be stripped of franchise after 'unacceptable' service

  • Transport Secretary Grant Shapps speaking to ITV News.

Northern Rail is set to be stripped of its franchise after the Transport Secretary announced he was 'taking action', describing the service as 'unacceptable.'

Grant Shapps told BBC Breakfast that he had started the process that could result in removing the firm's routes.

It comes after a year of chaos and cancellations across the network - and on the day rail fares were hiked by an average of 2.7%.

The introduction of new timetables in May 2018 saw up to 310 Northern trains a day cancelled, and punctuality and reliability problems continue to blight the network.

56%

of Northern services were on time in the last quarter, says Figures from the Office of Rail and Road

In a BBC interview Mr Shapps said: "It's completely unacceptable to have a situation where trains almost routinely don't run to a routine, don't run on time. I simply will not put up with that and I've already kicked off that process and I'll be saying more about it very soon."

Credit: PA

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has fought for the rail company to be stripped of its franchise for years. He believes it should be 'given the boot' after an 'onslaught of cancellations' and delayed trains in northern England.

Speaking today, Mr Farron said: Tim said: “This looks like a really big breakthrough in our long running campaign to ‘Sack Northern’.

“Once again over the Christmas and New Year holidays, hundreds of passengers have been left stranded on stations across the South Lakes and the rest of the north of England because of Northern’s complete failure to actually run trains on a train line.

“Northern’s service has been completely inadequate with years of cancelled trains, shoddy services and pathetic excuses – to the point that we had to work together as a community and run our own services on two separate occasions over the past 18 months.

“Removing Northern’s franchise won’t come a moment too soon – I only wish this Conservative Government had realised the north’s train services were in chaos sooner.

“Now the minister must walk the walk – it’s time for Northern to go.”

In response, David Brown, Managing Director at Northern, said: “ Arriva and Northern remain fully committed to delivering the transformation of the North’s railways and improving customers’ experience.

"We are delivering the biggest transformation of local rail for a generation, with 52 of our 101 new trains in service and driver training taking place on dozens more trains right now.

"Alongside 2,000 extra services per week, this is part of a £600 million investment in improving customers’ experience; we are continuing to invest in better stations, better offers for customers and more recruitment.

“These discussions have no impact on rail services for customers. Our job is to continue to provide the best service possible for our customers whilst any discussions are taking place.”