Northern Trains - B
Northern Trains - B
Northern Trains, trading as Northern, is a publicly owned train operating company in England. It is owned by DfT OLR Holdings for the Department for Transport (DfT), after the previous operator Arriva Rail North had its franchise terminated at the end of February 2020.
The company commenced operating the Northern franchise on 1 March 2020, taking over from Arriva Rail North. The prior operator had its franchise terminated early by the DfT in January 2020 amid widespread dissatisfaction over its performance, particularly in respect to poorly-implemented timetable changes.
The DfT had opted to hand the operation of the franchise over to the operator of last resort. At the commencement of operations, Northern publicly stated that its immediate aims were to improve service reliability and to proceed with the introduction of new rolling stock. For the latter, both the Class 195 diesel multiple units and Class 331 electric multiple units were brought into service fully during December 2020.
Services have been disrupted by wider events, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic. Northern is also being impacted by the 2022–2023 United Kingdom railway strikes, the largest national rail strikes in the UK in three decades.
Northern Trains History
Northern Trains Background
In December 2015, the Department for Transport (DfT) awarded Arriva a contract to operate the Northern franchise as Arriva Rail North. It commenced in April 2016 and was originally scheduled to run until March 2025.
Within two years, the franchise was being widely criticised, in particular for troubled implementation of a new timetable in May 2018 that resulted in widespread delays and cancellations. Later in 2018 performance continued to suffer, with many passengers protesting and a reduced service on Saturdays due to industrial action.
By November 2018, Arriva were re-evaluating their future involvement in the franchise due to a combination of declining passenger numbers as a result of the chaotic May 2018 timetable change and increasing compensation claims as a result of falling punctuality.
In June 2019, the DfT's operator of last resort, DfT OLR Holdings, conducted due diligence into the franchise believing the both operational and financial performance to be "unsustainable".
In October 2019, the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, issued a request for proposals to incumbent operator Arriva and the operator of last resort, which would result in termination of the franchise with either Arriva to be awarded a short-term management contract or the operator of last resort to take over.
In January 2020, Shapps publicly criticised Arriva's operation of the Northern franchise and suggested that the Government may step in to revoke its franchise agreement, bluntly referring to the service as "completely unacceptable".
On 29 January 2020, the DfT announced its decision to terminate Arriva Rail North as operator of the franchise, to be taken over by the DfT's operator of last resort.
This was the first time that a franchise has been removed from a train operating company due to poor performance since Connex South Eastern in 2003. On 1 March 2020, the franchise became directly operated by DfT OLR Holdings with the stated objective to "stabilise performance and restore reliability for passengers".
Northern Trains Changes and Events
By mid-2020, Northern had considerably curtailed its services in response to the significant decline of passenger travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. From 15 June 2020, both passengers and staff on public transport in England, including Northern services, were required to wear face coverings while travelling, and that anyone failing to do so would be liable to be refused travel or fined.
In 2021 Northern was given a contract by the Department for Transport to run services for three years, with an optional extension of a further two years. The contract was updated in 2022, to run until 1 March 2025.
Northern is one of several train operators impacted by the 2022–2023 United Kingdom railway strikes, which are the first national rail strikes in the UK for three decades.
Its workers are amongst those who voted to take industrial action due a dispute over pay and working conditions. Northern urged the travelling public to avoid travelling on its services on any of the planned dates for the strikes, being only capable of operating a minimal timetable due to the number of staff involved.
Northern Trains Rolling Stock
Northern took over all of the rolling stock operated by its predecessor, namely Class 142, 144, 150, 153, 155, 156, 158, 170 and 195 diesel multiple units and Class 319, 321, 322, 323, 331 and 333 electric multiple units. All Class 321 and 322 units were withdrawn in mid-2020 and moved to Greater Anglia.
All Class 153s were sent to storage by December 2021. 23 Class 156 units were transferred from East Midlands Railway, which includes eight of the nine Class 156/9 units formerly used by Greater Anglia, although they were renumbered back to 156/4s before the transfer. For the December timetable change in 2022, five more Class 156 units were transferred. The final Class 156 units were delivered in May 2023.
Northern Trains Current Fleet
Northern Trains Diesel Multiple Units
Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, West Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire and Derbyshire 1984–1987
York, Leeds, Hull and Scarborough 1987–1988
North East, Cumbrian Coast, Lancashire and Cumbria, Merseyside and Cheshire 1987–1989
South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Lancashire, Fylde Coast, North Yorkshire and the North East 1990–1992
Scarborough - Sheffield, Leeds - York via Harrogate 2003–2005
Manchester - Derbyshire, Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds and Barrow in Furness, York - Blackpool, Windermere and Chester - Leeds 2017–2020
Northern Trains Electric Multiple Units
Liverpool - Wigan and Blackpool. 1990
Manchester-Hadfield, Manchester-Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester-Crewe, and Liverpool-Manchester Airport 1992–1995
Blackpool North - Manchester Airport, Liverpool, Leeds - Skipton, Bradford Forster Square, Doncaster, Ilkley, Bradford Forster Square - Skipton, Ilkley 2017–2020
Leeds - Bradford Forster Square, Skipton, Ilkley,
Bradford Forster Square - Skipton, Ilkley 2000–2003
Northern Trains Bi-Mode Multiple Units
Southport - Manchester Oxford Road and Stalybridge 2017–2020 (1987–1988 as Class 319)
Northern Trains Future Fleet
In August 2023, Northern issued a tender to acquire a contract for up to 450 new trains to replace the older rolling stock in their fleet.
17 Class 323s are to be transferred from West Midlands Trains. This will result in the withdrawal of all Class 319 units.
Northern Trains Electric Multiple Units
Northern Trains Past Fleet
Former train types operated by Northern include:
Replaced by Class 150, Class 156, Class 158, Class 170, and Class 195 units.
Replaced by Class 331 units 1991 2020
Northern Trains Depots
Northern currently has depots for its train crew at Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool North, Buxton, Carlisle, Darlington (drivers), Doncaster, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Liverpool Lime Street, Leeds, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria, Middlesbrough (conductors), Newcastle, Sheffield, Skipton, Wigan Wallgate, Workington and York
Northern's fleet is maintained at depots listed in the table below:
Northern Trains Overview
Northern Trains Franchise(s): Northern
Northern Trains Main Region(s):
Yorkshire and the Humber
Northern Trains Other Region(s):
Northern Trains Fleet Size: 345
Northern Trains Stations Called At: 474
Northern Trains Parent Company: DfT OLR Holdings
Northern Trains Headquarters: York
Northern Trains Reporting Mark: NT
Northern Trains Dates of Operation: 1 March 2020 – 1 March 2025
Northern Trains Predecessor: Arriva Rail North