Transport secretary says Northern Rail set to be stripped of franchise

Train operator Northern could be stripped of its franchise, the transport secretary has said. "Frustrated commuters will not have to wait long", Grant Shapps told the BBC, saying he was "not prepared" to tolerate poor performance.

Asked if Northern will be stripped of its franchise, he replied:

Credit: PA Images

In October Mr Shapps announced he had taken steps which could lead to the franchise being brought under public control.

Mr Shapps' comments come on the day that rail fares across Britain rose by an average of 2.7%.

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

German-based Arriva holds the Northern franchise, which is due to run untilMarch 2025. The operator runs train services across the North-East.

Figures from the Office of Rail and Road show just 55.6% of Northern trains arrived at stations within one minute of the timetable in the 12 months to December 7, compared with the average across Britain of 65.3%.

Mr Shapps described services on the route as "really bad" and claimed passengers have "had a nightmare on that line" since 2016.

David Brown, managing director at Northern, said:

Nigel Harris, managing director of Rail magazine, said that the situation was "at least as much" the fault of the government as that of Northern.