From our correspondent in Swindon:
Troubled rail company Northern is to be brought under government control.
The decision, which will see the firm’s franchise stripped from operator Arriva Rail North from 1 March, was taken following years of major disruption.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said passengers had “lost trust in the north’s rail network”.
Arriva said it “understood the government’s decision”, but problems had been largely due to “external factors” such as rail infrastructure.
I’m really not sure that nationalisation or privatisation make much difference with rail. The contract, the fares, the services are all so heavily dictated by government, and so dependant on National Rail running the signals and points properly that it’s hard to run the sort of experiments to improve the service.
But it should be fun to see the results. Will the trains be super efficient, clean and cost a farthing to ride as the nationalisation fanboys say, or are they going to be as expensive and crap as ever?
Mr Shapps described the move as “a new beginning for Northern” but he sounded a note of caution for those expecting immediate dramatic improvements.
“Northern’s network is huge and complex, some of the things which are wrong are not going to be quick or easy to put right,” he said.
The much-maligned Pacer trains must still be replaced and Mr Shapps said new technology would be rolled out to identify overcrowding issues.
He also revealed plans to extend platforms at 30 stations on the Northern network to allow for longer trains.
The new government-owned company will be asked to prepare a plan in the first 100 days “to make sure we leave no stone unturned in improving this franchise for passengers”.
So, no changes that were under the control of Arriva, platforms and types of train being decided by National Rail.