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Rail firm that runs routes in Cumbria to be stripped of franchise and nationalised

Credit: Press Association

A troubled train operator that runs services across Cumbria is being stripped of its franchise and brought under government control.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he wants passengers to see "real and tangible improvements across the network as soon as possible."

He described nationalisation as a "new beginning for Northern" and said that would be ushered in by "the public-sector operator - the so-called Operator of Last Resort".

"It already owns and oversee another franchise, East Coast, which it brands as London North Eastern Railway. Passenger satisfaction has risen in the nineteen months it has been operating the service," he said.

At the start of the year Mr Shapps said he would be "taking action" after describing the service as "unacceptable" and "appalling".

The Government-run Operator of Last Resort (OLR) will take over the Northern franchise on March 1.

In Cumbria, Northern operates routes including the Carlisle to Newcastle service and The Lakes Line between Oxenholme and Windermere.

The chaotic introduction of new timetables in May 2018 saw hundreds of Northern trains a day cancelled.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps passing a Northern train at Leeds Station. Credit: PA

Punctuality and reliability problems continue to blight the network.

German-based Arriva was due to run Northern until March 2025. The OLR already runs services on the East Coast Main Line under the LNER brand, following the failure of the Virgin Trains East Coast franchise.

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"This is a new beginning for Northern, but it is only a beginning. Northern's network is huge and complex, some of the things which are wrong are not going to be quick or easy to put right.

"Nonetheless, I am determined that Northern passengers see real and tangible improvements across the network as soon as possible."

– Grant Shapps MP, Transport Secretary