Northern Rail Operator Faces Nationalisation of Shame

By Gary Cutlack on at

A part of the government that's still working vaguely normally is considering unleashing the metaphorical nuclear option on the Northern rail franchise, adding to local calls that the chaotic scenes and poor performance on the line cannot continue and threatening the operator with nationalisation.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps primed the bombshell for dropping while speaking to the Transport Select Committee, when he said: "As a fellow long-suffering commuter, I entirely believe we cannot carry on just thinking it is OK for trains not to arrive, or Sunday services not to be in place. That has to change."

His team at the Department for Transport confirmed it's working on a couple of options; either introducing a new and particularly punishing short-term contract with Northern to force it to improve things, or putting in place an Operator of Last Resort and effectively taking control away from the franchise and handing it to the government's transport team, as successfully done in the past when the East Coast Main Line was run by the state for a few years, like in the old days, and no one died or turned communist and the tea was still drinkable. [BBC]