UK government takes control on Northern rail services

On March 1st, the UK government has officially taken over the railway services on Northern network, a move seen as a “new era for rail in the North”.

“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, restoring the confidence of passengers and delivering a network they can truly rely on,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

The decision follows the commuter chaos since new timetables were introduced in May 2018. Northern franchise was previously operated by Arriva Rail North.

As the government is committed to ‘rebuild passenger confidence and put their priorities first’, the government operator, Northern Trains Limited, has launched a new panel to provide ongoing advice on how services will be run.

“The panel announced today will play a crucial strategic role as we look to transform services across Northern’s network, putting the needs of passengers first. By collaborating with local leaders, we’re taking a step towards reconnecting the railways with the people of the North. We need to improve performance and also provide passengers and their elected representatives with the confidence that their concerns are being addressed,” Chairman of the government’s operator, Richard George said.

The government has announced that overcrowding on Northern’s network will be a priority focus for improvement, with new technology being trialled to identify crowding pinch points. Work is underway to extend platforms at 30 stations across the network to allow for longer trains and improve journeys for passengers.

The capacity will be further boosted with the roll-out of more electric trains across the network next year, in addition to the extra capacity already being delivered by the new fleet.

Within the 100 days, the operator will deliver a new vision for the North’s railways, consulting with passengers and leaders across the North.

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