Northern has joined LNER in being run by Government. The Operator of Last Resort (OLR) took over the franchise on March 1.
The initial aim is to rebuild passenger confidence but putting their priorities first. A new plan has been created to provide ongoing advice regarding services. This will be led by OLR Chairman Richard George and features Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram and Transport Focus Director David Sidebottom (for the full list, see RAIL 900).
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said: “This is new era for rail in the North, but there will be no quick fix for the network as we build solutions for the future.
“Today marks the beginning of rebuilding of trust in these services, and voices from the region will be essential as we work together to understand and deliver the improvements passengers need.
“Our aim is to give the North of England more powers over their railways.”
Richard George, OLR Chairman, said: “The panel will play a crucial strategic role as we look to transform services across Northern’s network, putting the needs of passengers first.”
Sidebottom said: “After years of misery Northern passengers just want to hear when services will get back on track and when they will have a reliable service.
“As part of the Government’s new panel Transport Focus will ensure the rail industry listens to passengers and communicates its plan to improve services and rebuild trust.”
Rail Delivery Group Chief Executive Paul Plummer said: “The Northern franchise change is an opportunity for all parts of the industry to work differently to deliver the services people need and want. Urgent reform is needed to make sure different parts of the railway aren’t pulled in different directions again.”
The RMT Union has launched a campaign, ‘Keep Northern Public’, to keep the operator nationalised. General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Private speculators have driven Northern Rail to the brink and its return to public ownership, joining the East Coast Main Line, should not be seen as a short term fix whilst we wait to see what scheme this Government comes up with next.”
Arriva had operated Northern since April 1 2016.
For the FULL story, read RAIL 900, published on March 11, and available digitally from March 7.