January 29, 2020 @ 17:25 by Steven Hugill
A train operator running North East services has been stripped of its contract by the Government – with Downing Street promising the move will herald a “new beginning” for regional rail travel.
Arriva Rail North has lost its Northern franchise, which covers services across Newcastle, Northumberland, Wearside, Teesside and Cumbria.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the decision comes after the network fell “far short of delivering the service passengers need and deserve.”
He added it will not affect jobs or mean hikes to fares.
Under the change, ownership of Northern rail operations will transfer from Arriva to Northern Trains Limited, which will operate as a subsidiary of Department for Transport OLR Holdings Limited (DOHL).
The Government will take over the running of services from March 1.
“This is a new beginning for Northern, but it is only a beginning,” said the Transport Secretary.
“Northern’s network is huge and complex and some of the things which are wrong are not going to be quick or easy to put right.
“But I am determined that Northern passengers see real and tangible improvements across the network as soon as possible.”
He added new measures to improve services will include the lengthening of platforms at 30 stations by the spring – in addition to 30 already completed – to allow for longer trains, work to make Sunday services more reliable, and a new cleaning regime to smarten up carriages.
“The railways were invented in the North,” added the Transport Secretary.
“Last year, the Prime Minister promised we would give the railway back to the places it was born, giving more power over services, fares, and stations to local leaders.
“This marks the first small step towards the North taking back control of its railways and its people taking back control of their travelling lives.
“There will be no more leaving behind.”