Government WILL strip Northern Rail of its franchise and re-nationalise its operation from March 1 after months of delays, cancellations and strikes
- Ministers confirmed today Northern Rail would be stripped of its franchise
- Grant Shapps said public sector operator would take over running of Northern
- Yesterday it was revealed the railway was voted the worst train company in UK
Northern Rail will be brought into public ownership following months of disruption, transport Minister Grant Shapps confirmed today.
The Arriva-run railway has been stripped of its franchise and effectively renationalised following delays, cancellations and strikes.
Transport minister Grant Shapps said in a written statement that a public sector operator would take over the running of the railway contract from March 1.
In a written statement to Parliament, Mr Shapps said he wanted ‘real and tangible’ improvements for passengers on Northern’s routes.
He said: ‘I am announcing today that from 1 March the Northern Rail franchise will be taken into public ownership and the Government will begin operating services through the public sector operator – the so-called operator of last resort.
‘The public sector operator is a company entirely owned by my department and run by experienced railway managers.
Transport minister Grant Shapps said in a written statement on Wednesday that a public-sector operator would take over the running of the railway contract from March 1
‘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.
‘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.’
Mr Shapps also implied that other rail firms were also in the Government’s sights.
Announcing that the current model of privatised railways was ‘failing to deliver’, he went on: ‘Today’s announcement will inevitably raise questions about the future of rail privatisation.
‘Over the past 20 years privatisation has reversed over two decades of declining passenger numbers and passenger journeys have almost doubled to nearly 2 billion.
‘However, it is clear that the current model is now struggling to deliver. Across the country a number of franchises are failing to provide the reliable services that passengers require.
‘We know change is needed, and it is coming.’
Passengers on Northern Rail have had to endure years of problems, with high levels of delays and cancellations due to strikes, driver shortages, timetable issues, delays to the delivery of new trains and old, creaking infrastructure.
Yvette Cooper, Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley, and chair of the Home Affairs Committee, tweeted: ‘About time. Delays & cancellations under Northern Rail have been getting worse and worse and worse.
‘But Govt also needs a proper plan to invest in our northern railways, trains and stations so we get a fair deal.’
Yesterday it was revealed the railway had been voted the worst train company in the country with just 72 per cent of passengers saying they were satisfied with the operator’s performance over the autumn.
The dismal score, from a survey of 28,000 by the Transport Focus watchdog, was the lowest in 20 years.
In the customer survey, TransPennine Express, the other major rail operator in the North, was the joint fourth worst, with only 79 per cent of passengers satisfied.
West Midlands Trains was the second-worst operator, with 73 per cent of passengers satisfied, while South Western Railway was third-worst with 74 per cent.
But the survey found that overall satisfaction is at 82 per cent, up from 79 per cent last year.
Northern achieved the dismal rating after months of delays, cancellations and strikes