It has been confirmed that rail operator Northern Rail will be brought under government control.
The decision follows over two years of chaos for commuters and passengers, with regular instances of delays, cancellations and overcrowding.
From March 1, 2020, Northern services will be operated by a government-owned company, and Arriva will lose the franchise which they currently operate. Arriva had been due to run the franchise until March 2025, but Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said that ‘people across the north deserve better’ and passengers have ”lost trust in the north’s rail network.’
Services will transfer from the ownership of Arriva Rail North to Northern Trains Limited, a new subsidiary of the Operator for Last resort (OLR) managed by the Department for Transport. In June 2018, the Department for Transport’s Operator of Last Resort (OLR) took on the running of the East Coast Main Line through London North Eastern Railway (LNER).
All tickets booked for after March 1 will still be valid and tickets can still be purchased through the Northern Rail App. Staff currently working for Northern Rail are set to transfer over to the new operator.
The news has generally been welcomed by public figures, trade unions and commuters. However, there may not be an immediate improvement in services, due to issues with the network’s infrastructure and fleet. Speaking on Wednesday, Grant Shapps said “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”
How did we get to this point? – Read more on this story.