“Northern rail could be renationalised, says transport secretary.
The Northern rail network could be renationalised after years of late and cancelled trains, according to the transport secretary, who said the current franchise cannot continue as it is.
Grant Shapps told the Commons transport select committee that first steps had been taken towards taking the Northern rail network back into public hands. He said he had asked the Northern franchisee, the German-owned Arriva, and the government’s operator of last resort to draw up proposals to improve the service.
Highlighting that barely one in two Northern trains ran on time, Shapps said: “I consider that it cannot continue delivering in the current delivery method.”
He added: “I entirely believe we cannot carry on thinking it is OK for trains not to arrive, or Sunday services not to be in place – that simply has to change.”
His remarks were welcomed by politicians who have criticised the service, whose vast network runs from Newcastle to Leeds, Liverpool, Hull, Manchester and Stoke. Greater Manchester’s mayor, Andy Burnham, said: “After months of misery it is a relief for us to hear government finally accept what we’ve been saying repeatedly, that things can’t carry on as they are.
“Northern passengers will agree with the transport secretary that the current situation of unreliable, overcrowded trains cannot continue. …
Labour said all rail franchises should come under the state’s wing, joining Network Rail. Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, said: “Northern Rail’s incompetent operator should have been stripped of its contract years ago over its abysmal performance record. The government’s refusal to do so has meant massive inconvenience for rail passengers and damage to the region’s economy. …”