Calls for fare reductions on Northern Rail pacer trains

Political leaders in the North are asking Northern Rail for a reduction in rail fares for passengers- after the firm revealed they'll be continuing to run Pacer trains.

Pacer train
Richard Woodward

Northern Rail operate train services between Lincoln and Gainsborough and across North and North East Lincolnshire.

Pacers are 1980s-built rail-buses meant as a short-term alternative for trains.

Northern Rail has backtracked on its promise to get rid of all Pacer trains by 2020.

Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis and Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake have told train operator Northern using the ageing units is unacceptable.

More on Northern Rail

Tom Burridge

Transport correspondent, BBC News


The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed that he is considering whether the management of the vast bulk of rail commuter services in the north of England should be taken into public hands.

Northern Rail is one of the one of the biggest franchises in the country and has been in trouble for years. Industry sources have confirmed to the BBC that the train company, which is owned by Arriva, has been losing money for some time.

Passenger numbers on Northern dropped after the botched introduction of a new timetable in the summer of last year.

In a statement on Friday, Transport for the North said it believes the franchise should be taken into public hands, via what is known as an Operator of Last Resort (OLR). The OLR is, on behalf of the government, currently in charge of London North East Railway, the East Coast Mainline intercity franchise.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps told MPs on the Transport Select Committee that he has asked Arriva and the OLR for a “list of proposals” because the franchise “cannot continue delivering in the current delivery method.”

However the OLR is not the only option for the government.

It could also opt for what is known as a “management contract” which would mean that Arriva would still operate rail services but the Department for Transport would adopt a much more hands-on role for the operation of the franchise.

Northern Rail risks being removed

Rail passengers
PA Media

The government has requested that Northern Rail submit proposals on how it can improve its service for passengers, or risk being removed from the franchise.

During a Transport Committee session, Grant Shapps MP said he’s issued a “request for proposals” as the service has been poor.

At the same time, the Operator of Last Resort will examine how it could improve the service for passengers.

The govt will then make a decision on who should run the network based on both proposals.

The decision will take months – not weeks.

Rail line still closed after banking slumps on to track

Rail passengers hoping to travel in north Cumbria and across to Newcastle are still being advised to check with Northern before travelling this morning, after heavy rain caused flooding and at least one landslide.

Network Rail

Engineers are now assessing the landslide near Wetheral that has closed the rail line.