Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Change at Top Means It May Be Going off Rails for Embattled Operator Bosses

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Change at Top Means It May Be Going off Rails for Embattled Operator Bosses

Article excerpt

RAIL passengers in the north have known for years what a shoddy service they receive, but it would appear that in recent months government has finally woken up to it too.

The continued existence of Northern Rail's franchise has long mystified many of those facing its failures on a daily basis.

Not only has Andy Burnham and his colleague, Liverpool city region's mayor Steve Rotheram, been calling for it to be scrapped since the spring - an argument first made by some council leaders here last year - but letters leaked to the M.E.N. revealed Transport for the North, the pan-northern body that works with the government to oversee the franchise, has also repeatedly written to ministers in private demanding the it be scrapped and temporarily nationalised.

Under no circumstances, it warned new transport secretary Grant Shapps in August, must it be given back to Northern Rail.

A raft of non-disclosure agreements are understood to cover those involved in anything around Northern's franchise situation, partly explaining why things have been so quiet. The government itself has been publicly very non-committal - until now.

But behind the scenes, officials have for the last few months been weighing up all the risks and all the detail that sit behind the franchise's failure - including the extent to which the government is itself responsible, given the delayed infrastructure projects that are contributing to its dire performance, plus how to go about stripping the franchise.

Why now, after all this time? One reason for the drift is that, somewhat bafflingly, ministers tend not to scrap franchises due to poor performance (although as TfN has pointed out, that doesn't mean they can't). There is also the thorny legal question of who exactly is to blame for the poor performance in the first place.

However, where a contract appears to be on the brink of insolvency, ministers have an imperative to step in. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.