Calls for Northern Rail to be stripped of franchise after 'consistently failing' to deliver

The mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool have called for Northern Rail to be stripped of its franchise.

By Debra Fox
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019, 09:06
There are calls for Northern Rail to be stripped of its franchise.

Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham are urging the Department for Transport (DfT) to bring in a new board and team of directors to run the company after it "consistently failed" to deliver on its legally binding requirements.

Issuing a joint statement, the mayors said Northern, owned by Arriva Rail North, has failed to deliver a significant and sustained improvement in performance, with nearly a fifth of all services arriving late, 28,000 services cancelled, and a huge increase in services being "shortformed" - reducing the number of carriages on the train - from 2,825 in December 2018 to 4,172 in April 2019.

The mayors also highlighted the state of the company's Sunday services, adding that there were 165 unplanned cancellations on top of 90 planned cancellations last Sunday alone.

Northern was also accused of failing to resolve the guards on trains industrial dispute, which has seen 46 days of strike action.

The joint statement said: "The Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region Mayors are now urging the Department of Transport to implement an 'Operator of Last Resort' and bring in a new board and team of directors to run the company as soon possible."

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Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, welcomed the mayors' intervention and added that the "game is up" for Arriva Rail North.

He continued: "RMT welcomes this decisive move by Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram and there should now be a swift transition of the Northern routes into a public sector operation. There can be no excuses for any delay.

"RMT will be seeking immediate assurances that the jobs, conditions and pensions of our members will be protected once Arriva are finally kicked off the Northern routes. The union will also expect to see an end to outsourcing of support functions and an absolute commitment to safety and the guard guarantee.

"Any attempt by Chris Grayling and the DfT to sabotage the clear wishes of the democratically elected representatives will spark a furious political backlash. For Arriva Rail North the game is up."