The UK Department for Transport (DfT) operator of last resort (OLR) has started operating Northern Rail services previously managed by Arriva Rail North.

Marking a new start for the future of the franchise, the latest move also rebuilds passenger confidence.

OLR will work with local leaders, industry and passenger representatives to deliver a plan for improvements after the initial 100 days.

The operator has launched a new panel to provide ongoing advice on how the services will be run.

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To be led by OLR chairman Richard George, the panel will include political leaders Andy Burnham from Manchester and Judith Blake from Leeds. They will also be joined by regional leaders, passenger representatives and industry leaders.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This is a new era for rail in the north, but there will be no quick fix for the network as we build solutions for the future.

“Today marks the beginning of the rebuilding of trust in these services, and voices from the region will be essential as we work together to understand and deliver the improvements passengers need.”

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The government has also announced plans to trial new technology to identify crowding pinch points.

Platform extension work is currently underway at 30 stations across the network to improve passenger journeys.

In addition, more electric trains will be launched across the network next year to boost capacity, in addition to the extra volume already being delivered by the new fleet.

OLR chairman Richard George said: “The panel announced today will play a crucial strategic role as we look to transform services across Northern’s network, putting the needs of passengers first.”