Northern Rail is set to be stripped of its franchise to operate trains in our region. Following years of travel chaos, including cancellations, long delays and severe overcrowding on Northern’s network, the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has said that he has launched the process that will underpin the removal of Northern’s franchise. This means that a new operator can be found to take over the portfolio of networks and routes currently operated by Northern, which is owned by Arriva Rail North. In turn Arriva Rail North is a company held by Deutsche Bahn AG, a German rail operator. This Berlin based company describes itself as, by revenue, the largest rail operator in the world.
On BBC’s Breakfast Time Mr Shapps, recently re-elected as Tory Member of Parliament (MP) for Welwyn Hatfield, said “I am simply not prepared for this service to carry on as it is. I am now taking action!” He continued by stating that he had begun the protocol for finding a new operator for the Northern franchise. Issues came to a head over the festive period when Northern made hundreds of cancellations ruining the Christmas journeys for thousands of passengers. The rail operator blamed the chaos on staff, saying that they had experienced “unprecedented levels of staff sickness.” The new timetables and increase in fares have added to the disorder on the tracks. For example, passengers waiting for the Blackpool North to York train were left standing on a cold platform as the train simply failed to appear.