UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has reportedly said that German state-owned Arriva-operated firm Northern could be nationalised.
The development follows after the Queen’s Speech outlined that ‘proposals on railway reform will be brought forward.’
Addressing the Commons’ Transport Select Committee, Shapps said Northern has been recording poor performance for years with late or cancelled trains.
Shapps said “As a fellow long-suffering commuter, I entirely believe we cannot carry on just thinking it is okay for trains not to arrive, or Sunday services not to be in place. That has to change.”
The UK Department for Transport has also said that contingency plans are being drawn to take over the franchise.
The department said: “In the context of significant challenges facing the operator, such as delays to infrastructure upgrades and historic underinvestment in the northern rail network, issuing a request for proposal enables the department to examine whether the contract is properly aligned with current operating challenges in the north.”
Northern currently employs over 53,000 people. It delivers two billion passenger journeys annually across 14 European countries.
Arriva is part of Deutsche Bahn (DB) and is responsible for DB’s regional passenger transport services outside Germany.
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald told The Guardian: “Northern Rail’s incompetent operator should have been stripped of its contract years ago over its abysmal performance record. The government’s refusal to do so has meant massive inconvenience for rail passengers and damage to the region’s economy.
“A railway is an interconnected system that will work best when it is integrated under public ownership, as Labour will do.”