Northern trains taken over by UK government March 1, 2020

Overcrowding of trains has been an issueOne of the new fleet from Spanish firm CAFImproving the reliability of Sunday services was one of the ambitions set by the UK Government as it took over trains operated by Northern across Yorkshire and the North of England on Sunday March 1 after the franchise of Arriva Rail North was removed.

It says its takeover will not affect jobs or introduce changes to fares or tickets for passengers.

Instead of trains being operated by Sunderland-based Arriva, since 2010 a subsidiary of German-government-owned Deutsche Bahn, they are now under the control of what the UK government calls its "Operator of Last Resort", a company run by its own Department for Transport as Northern Trains Ltd.

Arriva Rail North had initially been awarded the Northern franchise by the UK Government in 2016 to run until 2025.

Northern continues to run Pacer trains into 2020, beyond their intended expiry dateHowever, since taking over the franchise there had been widespread criticism of the company for overcrowding and delays, problems with new timetables, the strike at the company over train guards which involved well over 40 strike days between 2018 and 2019, and recently its 1980s trains.

A refurbished 1980s York-built Sprinter trainNorthern announced in February that it had now introduced 75 of 101 new trains planned for its fleet and highlighted its continuing work to refurbish 268 more trains to modern standards.

The govermment has now given a commitment to deep-cleaning existing trains.

And it says it will introduce a number of electric trains from elsewhere on the network to boost capacity for Manchester and Leeds commuters.

But there having been delays in adding electric train infrastructure to more lines, the government has yet to say how many trains or where they will operate.

A programme of lengthening platforms is to be continued to allow longer trains.

The only services now operated in Yorkshire under the umberella of the state-run railways of other countries are Arriva's Cross Country and Grand Central services and also East Midlands Railway. The UK government in August last year awarded the franchise until 2027 for the latter to Abellio, part of the Dutch state-owned railway company.
The UK government also re-nationalised the East Coast franchise from Stagecoach/Virgin as LNER in 2018, leaving just two of Yorkshire's operators run by a public limited company. TransPennine Express and Hull Trains are part of First Group plc.

More on the Northern franchise announcement first made in January at Northern lose rail franchise.

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