Following the news that #NorthernFail would be set to lose its franchise, it now looks like that might be happening much sooner than expected.
The news that Northern Rail would be set to cease trading due to ‘unacceptable’ service came in just last week, and the government has now said that the operator only has the finances to continue running for ‘a number of months’.
While the operator is currently on the verge of financial collapse, transport secretary Grant Shapps has said that a decision will be made within the next three weeks as to whether the line would be temporarily re-nationalised, or given to a new contractor. Northern Rail’s contract was originally set to end in March 2025.
Northern Rail has faced a large number of issues over the past year with its service, with only 56% of its trains arriving on time in the last quarter.
Speaking of the issues the company has faced, managing director of Arriva, Chris Burchell has said:
“We accept services on the Northern network are not yet good enough and we sincerely apologise to our customers for our role in that.
“Many of the issues affecting the franchise, however, are outside the direct control of Northern. Assumptions were given when the plan for the franchise was developed that critical infrastructure projects would be delivered to enable growth and support capacity demands.
“Many of these have either been delayed or cancelled. This, along with unprecedented levels of strike action, has had a significant impact in terms of service and financial performance. These challenges will continue to affect services irrespective of who is running them.”
Transport secretary Schapps has said of the issue:
“Passengers in the North have had to put up with unacceptable services for too long.
“We understand how frustrating this has been for people and we are taking action to make sure that performance improves.
“Following completion of this process I will consider whether to award Arriva Rail North a short-term management contract or whether to ask the Department of Transport’s own operator of last resort to step in and deliver passenger services.”