Government takes control of Northern Rail

After issuing repeated warnings over poor performance, the Department for Transport has announced that it will take control of Northern Rail on March 1.

Northern serves more than 108 million passenger journeys a year on 2,800 daily services, calling at 528 stations.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps had previously revealed that the Northern franchise was not financially sustainable and would only be able to continue for a small number of months.

The government has now promised to implement a series of improvements, including the introduction  of additional electric trains to boost capacity, lengthening platforms at 30 stations and a deep clean of all existing trains.

A 'top to bottom' review will follow, looking in particular at timetables and customer experience. Robin Gisby and Richard George, who lead the public-sector operator, have been tasked with preparing a plan in their first 100 days.

Grant Shapps said: "This is a new beginning for Northern, but it is only a beginning. Northern's network is huge and complex and some of the things which are wrong are not going to be quick or easy to put right. But I am determined that Northern passengers see real and tangible improvements across the network as soon as possible."

Some of the things which are wrong are not going to be quick or easy to put right.

The government was also clear to add that the decision "in no way reflects on the staff of Northern. They are dedicated, hard-working and committed to their customers." The takeover will not affect jobs or result in changes to fares or tickets for passengers.

  • For further Lancashire business news, advice and analysis subscribe to Lancashire Business View or join the LBV Hub from just £2.50 per month. Click here to subscribe now.