Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says government control of Northern is step towards 'North taking back control'

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced today that, from March 1, the Government will take over running services on the Northern network.

By Corinne Macdonald
Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 3:42 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 3:44 pm
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. Picture: JPI Media/ Tony Johnson
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. Picture: JPI Media/ Tony Johnson

This comes after he announced on January 9 that the Northern franchise was no longer financially sustainable and would only be able to continue for a small number of months.

Mr 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.

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“The railways were invented in the North. Last year the Prime Minister promised that we would give the railway back to the places it was born, giving more power over services, fares, and stations to local leaders.

“Today marks the first small step towards the North taking back control of its railways and its people taking back control of their travelling lives.

“There will be no more leaving behind. This Government is committed to levelling-up.”

The Department for Transport says the Government is committed to delivering real and tangible improvements across the network as quickly as possible, and will introduce a series of measures including;

- Introduce a number of electric trains from elsewhere on the network, boosting capacity for commuters into Manchester and Leeds.

- Lengthening platforms at 30 stations by the spring, in addition to the 30 already completed, to allow longer trains to run.

- All existing trains will be deep-cleaned and the approach to cleaning reviewed to ensure passengers experience the service they deserve from the first train to the last.

- Build on the recent agreement with ASLEF and improve the reliability of Sunday services.

The Northern network serves over 108 million passenger journeys a year on 2800 daily services, calling at 528 stations.

Mr Shapps has asked Robin Gisby and Richard George, who lead the public-sector operator, to prepare a plan in their first 100 days.