April 22, 2024

Unacceptable’ Northern rail could lose franchise

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has labelled Northern Rail's service as "completely unacceptable" and could now strip the operator of its franchise.

Following a tumultuous 2019 for the operator, Shapps told the BBC: “I’m simply not prepared for the service on Northern to carry on as it is and I am taking action.”

A decision on the future of the franchise is expected “in a matter of weeks” according to the BBC, but options include taking it back into government hands or awarding a short-term contract.

Just over half of its services – which run between Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, Hull, Manchester and Stoke – operated on time over the first ten months of 2019.

In response, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said Shapps is “big on talk about Northern Rail this morning but short on detail”.

“If Grant Shapps was serious he would set out a timetable for removing the Northern Rail franchise from Arriva and their replacement with the public sector operator,” said Cash.