Troubled Northern rail 'only able to continue for a couple of months' says Transport Secretary

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says troubled train operator Northern may only be able to continue for a number of months.

By Ben McVay
Friday, 10th January 2020, 12:40 pm

Mr Shapps made the comment after hearing a summary of the franchise’s most recent available financial information.

In October last year he announced he had asked Northern to set out a plan for the future of its services.

The minister wrote in a statement to Parliament how he was now considering a proposal about the franchise by the Department for Transport’s own ‘Operator of Last Resort’.

A Northern rail train

He wrote: “Following completion of this process I will consider whether to award ARN (Arriva Rail North) a short-term management contract or whether to ask the Department for Transport’s own Operator of Last Resort to step in and deliver passenger services.”

Mr Shapps said his decision over which short-term option to choose would take into account which one most ensured value for money and quality.

Following Mr Shapps’ statement Transport for the North has called on the government to show ‘full commitment’ to rail services.

The group’s Strategic Rail Director David Hoggarth said: “A top priority for us is ensuring passengers are put first in this whole process - that includes continuing to deliver on improved services, on infrastructure, and on new trains.

“We accept there is no silver bullet that will solve all the issues – that’s why it’s important that the government also deliver a pipeline of significant investments in our railways as a matter of urgency.”