Northern Rail could lose their contract after Manchester Mayor calls for service to be terminated

  • GM Mayor Andy Burnham and Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram call for franchise to be scrapped
  • Northern train company has awful record of cancellations and delays
  • Company promised its trains would be updated, but this has not happened

The Mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool have called on the Transport Secretary to terminate Northern’s rail franchise as soon as possible.

Speaking on behalf of the 4.3m people they represent, Mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram made the call 12 months on from last May’s rail timetable chaos. The Mayors believe Northern has consistently failed to show they are able to take the action required to restore public confidence or deliver their legally-binding franchise requirements.

Nearly a fifth of all the rail company’s services arrive late and in an example of poor performance, last Sunday saw 165 unplanned cancellations in addition to 90 already planned cancellations.

Northern Rail promised to introduce new trains by the end of the year, but they have yet to materialise, which means passengers will be stuck with the outdated and uncomfortable Pacer trains.



The company also failed to resolve an industrial dispute which has led to 46 days of strikes and did not provide additional services it had promised in busy parts of the network.

The Department of Transport has a legal duty to provide an Operator of Last Resort to ensure continuity of passenger services, in the event of a franchise failure. The Mayors have called for a commitment from the Government to provide resources to ensure all existing franchise commitments are delivered, including the introduction of new rolling stock, in the event of an Operator of Last Resort being appointed.

Making the call on Wednesday 29 May, the Mayors emphasised the rights of Northern staff must be protected under these new arrangements.  

Northern Rail train
Northern Rail’s trains are infamous for being delayed or cancelled. Photo courtesy of Pimlico Badger on Flickr

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “We have been extremely patient with Northern but enough is enough.

“The people of Greater Manchester deserve much better than this. That’s why, together with the Mayor of Liverpool City Region, I am calling on the Transport Secretary to strip Arriva Rail North of this franchise and stabilise the franchise under the control of the Government.

“We wish to make clear that we do not blame the staff of Northern who have worked hard over the last year in very difficult circumstances. We believe they, and the travelling public, have been let down by Northern’s management who have had plenty of opportunity to show how they will meet franchise requirements but have failed to do so.”

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