Since being transfer to public ownership on the 1st March, Northern has been undertaking a 100-day review of the business.
The focus has been on restoring a full and reliable train service for passengers.
Obviously, when Northern was transferred to government ownership, no one had any idea what impact COVID-19 would have on the transport sector.
Northern is currently operating a near-full timetable, but with capacity greatly reduced.
Don’t travel by train unless you have to
Statement from Nick Donovan, Managing Director:
“The impact of COVID-19 is one that we could never have possibly imagined. It has changed both the industry itself and public life as we know it. Despite the pandemic, the review has been delivered. Many of our employees and stakeholders have contributed to this review and I’d like to thank them for their unwavering focus and commitment to delivering positive changes for passengers, despite other unprecedented demands.
“Our immediate focus right now is on recovery from the pandemic and the restoration of a full and reliable train service whilst ensuring passengers can travel as safely as possible and our employees can work safely. COVID-19 has not changed our commitment to deliver a ‘new Northern’ that will deliver real and tangible improvements for passengers.
“We have already begun to deliver many improvements for our customers, including the recruitment of more staff, a full train cleaning programme and improvements to some stations. But of course, there remains much more to do to provide the modern, reliable service we want to deliver. We have prepared a range of analysis and proposals and we will be working with the Department for Transport, Rail North Partnership and wider stakeholders to continue to assess these.
“But the economic and financial impact of COVID-19 means that there remains much more to do to provide the modern, reliable service we want to deliver. We have prepared a range of analysis and proposals and will be working with the Department for Transport, Rail North Partnership and wider stakeholders to continue to assess these.
“To deliver the service passengers need, train and track must deliver as one railway. Our review is therefore closely aligned with the work of other industry partners such as Network Rail and the North West Performance Recovery Task Force and we will continue to work closely with them to progress plans to deliver a better functioning railway.
“In the immediate future we will be working together to develop and deliver a new, performance-led timetable in December 2021. Timetable changes associated with this will be consulted on in the usual way.
“We hope to shortly update you further on our plans to transform the service, but until then we will be continuing to focus on getting the basics right – restoring reliability, increasing capacity and rebuilding trust in our organisation by providing services that all passengers can truly rely on.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “It is absolutely right that the immediate focus of the Government’s operator is restoring normal service levels as the country begins the process of recovery from COVID-19.
“Northern has already begun its work of improving journeys for passengers and colleagues, including the deep cleaning of all trains, recruiting 85 more train cleaning staff, and delivering upgrades to some station facilities for both passengers and staff.
“The impact of COVID-19 means we must prioritise the safety of passengers and staff. That means our focus right now must be reliability and increased capacity to enable safer travel with space for social distancing where possible.
“However, our ambition for a new Northern remains unchanged. We will continue working with the OLR and stakeholders across the North to rebuild trust, and rapidly deliver a network that passengers can truly rely on as we recover from COIVD-19.”
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