The Transport Secretary should terminate the Northern rail franchise as soon as possible.
This call has come from the Mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region.
Both Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram believe the removal of the Northern rail franchise is the correct step after the timetable “chaos” that followed the changes made in May 2018.
That new timetable caused a number of cancellations of services that made commuting and business journeys much more difficult and investigations found that the needs of passengers were not prioritised.
Subsequently, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) published recommendations to avoid future disruption of timetables, with passenger needs put at the heart of key decisions.
This, however, shouldn’t be enough to save the Northern rail franchise according to Mr Burnham and Mr Rotheram, who represent 4.3 million people altogether.
They believe that there is no evidence to show they can take action to restore public confidence or deliver franchise requirements – and listed evidence to support their beliefs.
This includes failure to deliver a significant and sustained improvement in performance, with late services, cancelled services and a huge number of reduced carriages on trains recorded.
As a result, the Mayors want to see the Department of Transport implement an ‘Operator of Last Resort’ and bring in a brand new board and team of directors to run the company.
This should not impact the rights of staff though, which should be protected according to the Mayors.
Mr Burnham said: “We have been extremely patient with Northern but enough is enough.
“They promised us that things would be significantly better by May 2019 and that hasn’t happened. Train services across Greater Manchester and the North West remain unreliable and over-crowded.
“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.
“It is only through taking this action that we can restore the trust of the public and deliver a rail network that finally works for its passengers.”