Arriva Trains Northern

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Arriva Trains Northern
153304 at Doncaster.JPG
Franchise(s)Regional Railways North East
2 March 1997 – 11 December 2004
Main region(s)North East
Other region(s)North West
North Midlands
Fleet size169 until February 2004
141 after February 2004
Parent companyArriva
Reporting markAN (NS when Northern Spirit)
PredecessorRegional Railways
Other at the Wayback Machine (archived 2004-12-05)

Arriva Trains Northern[1] was a train operating company in England owned by Arriva that operated the Regional Railways North East franchise from March 1997 until December 2004. Arriva resumed operating Northern train services again on 1 April 2016 under the Northern brand but ceased again on 29 February 2020.


Northern Spirit liveried 156443 at Carlisle station in August 2004
TransPennine Express liveried 158798 at Doncaster station in July 2003

As part of the privatisation of British Rail, the Regional Railways North East franchise was awarded by the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising to MTL after it won the contest from a field of Connex, FirstBus, Grand Central, a management/Via-GTI consortium, National Express, Prism Rail and Stagecoach.[2][3] The franchise commenced on 2 March 1997.[4]

In May 1998, the franchise was rebranded as Northern Spirit with a livery of turquoise with a lime green stylised italic N across the midsection introduced.[5][6][7]

At the same time, the long distance regional services connecting Sunderland, Newcastle, Scarborough and Hull with Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool were sub-branded under the TransPennine Express banner with rolling stock painted in a base colour of maroon with a gold stylised italic N across the midsection. These services would later become a franchise in their own right from 2004, namely the Transpennine franchise, which is currently operated by TransPennine Express.[8]

On 18 February 2000, MTL was purchased by Arriva,[9][10][11] and on 27 April 2001 the franchise was rebranded as Arriva Trains Northern.[12][13] The Arriva corporate turquoise and stone livery was introduced on refurbished 153352 in July 2001.[14][15]


Arriva Trains Northern operated a mix of long distance regional, local urban and rural passenger services in the North of England and Yorkshire and the Humber extending across the Pennines.

The network extended from Carlisle and Chathill in the north to Sunderland, Scarborough, Hull and Cleethorpes on the east coast down to Sheffield and across to Manchester, Liverpool, Blackpool and Morecambe on the West Coast.

A daily Leeds to Glasgow Central via the Settle & Carlisle and West Coast Main Lines service was introduced in September 1999, the first time such a service had operated since 1982.[16][17]


A long-running dispute with the RMT union lead to a prolonged period of industrial action. As a result, in 2001, the Strategic Rail Authority imposed a £2  million fine.[18][19][20] Throughout its life, the franchise suffered a shortage of drivers and rolling stock which led to many cancellations on a daily basis. An emergency timetable was later brought in which cancelled many services on a permanent basis rather than random as before.[21]

Rolling stock[edit]

Arriva Trains Northern inherited a fleet of Class 142, Class 144, Class 150, Class 155, Class 156, Class 158, Class 308 and Class 321s from Regional Railways.

In September 1998, Northern Spirit traded seven of its Class 142s (142085-091) to Valley Lines in exchange for seven Class 150s (150268-274),[22] although between October and December 2002 these were swapped for unrefurbished units 142072-77 and 142080-083, as 142086-091 had only recently been refurbished by Northern Spirit and Valley Lines wished to start their own refurbishment from scratch. In January 2001, the first of 16 Class 333s ordered to replace the Class 308s, entered service.[23][24][25]

A shortage of available rolling stock to meet increasing demand led Arriva Trains Northern to lease Class 37s and ex Virgin CrossCountry Mark 2 carriages from English Welsh & Scottish to top and tail a daily service from Leeds to Carlisle for 12 months from September 2003.[26][27][28] It also operated a peak hour Knaresborough to Leeds service.[29]

Some of the rolling stock was owned by the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and these were repainted red and silver with the Metro logos of the passenger transport executive.[30][31]

Class Image Type Top speed Number Built
mph km/h
142 Pacer Wakefield Kirkgate 2.jpg Diesel multiple unit 75 120 6 1985–1987
144 Pacer 144001lincoln.JPG 23 1986–1987
150 Sprinter Arriva NWalesTrain.JPG 10 1985–1987
153 Super Sprinter 153304 at Doncaster.JPG 20 1987–1988
155 Super Sprinter Northern-155346-02.jpg 7
156 Super Sprinter 156443 at Carlisle.JPG 46 1987–1989
158 Express Sprinter 158798 at Doncaster.JPG 90 145 38 1989–1992
308 British Rail Class 308 at Leeds 1996.jpg Electric multiple unit 75 120 33 1961
321 321901 at Doncaster.JPG 100 160 3 1991
333 Northern-333xxx-01.jpg 16 2000–2003
Mark 2 carriage Mk 2F TSO 6035 at Carlisle.JPG carriage 6 1969–1974


Arriva Trains Northern's fleet was maintained at Heaton depot in Newcastle upon Tyne and Neville Hill depot in Leeds.


In 2000, the Strategic Rail Authority announced that it planned to create a new TransPennine Express franchise transferring Arriva Train Northern's long distance regional services with the remainder to be combined with those of the Regional Railways North West franchise to form a new Northern Rail franchise.[32][33]

In July 2003, the Strategic Rail Authority awarded the TransPennine franchise to FirstGroup/Keolis with services operated by Arriva Trains Northern transferring to First TransPennine Express on 1 February 2004.[34][35][36][37]

In July 2004, the Strategic Rail Authority awarded the Northern Rail franchise to Serco-Abellio with the remaining services operated by Arriva Trains Northern transferring to Northern Rail on 12 December 2004.[38][39]


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 3007932 Arriva Trains Northern Limited formerly Northern Spirit Limited formerly Regional Railways North East Limited
  2. ^ "RRNE franchise process revealed" Rail Privatisation News issue 45 9 January 1997 page 1
  3. ^ "MTL nets RRNE" Rail Privatisation News issue 48 20 February 1997 page 4
  4. ^ "MTL lands a second franchise with RRNE" The Railway Magazine issue 1152 April 1997 page 8
  5. ^ "Northern Spirit is brand new name for Regional Railways North East" Rail Magazine issue 332 3 June 1998 page 7
  6. ^ "Regional Railways North East rebranded as Northern Spirit" Rail Express issue 26 July 1998 page 6
  7. ^ "Regional Railways North East renamed Northern Spirit" The Railway Magazine issue 1167 July 1998 page 55
  8. ^ "Yorkshire & The Humber Transport Activist's Roundtable" (PDF). 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 October 2004.
  9. ^ Recommended Cash Offer for MTL Services Arriva 18 February 2000
  10. ^ "Arriva buys MTL for £84m" Rail Magazine issue 378 8 March 2000 page 13
  11. ^ "Arriva to take over MTL's two franchises" Rail Express issue 46 March 2000 page 6
  12. ^ "Name changes for Arriva TOCs" Rail Magazine issue 408 2 May 2001 page 9
  13. ^ "End for Northern Spirit as two TOCs get new names" The Railway Magazine issue 1203 July 2001 page 12
  14. ^ "Arriva launches refurbished Class 153" Rail Magazine issue 415 8 August 2001 page 12
  15. ^ "Arriva Northern unveils new branding" The Railway Magazine issue 1206 October 2001 page 72
  16. ^ "Northern Spirit to serve Scotland from September" Rail Magazine issue 363 11 August 1999 page 10
  17. ^ "New Northern Spirit Anglo-Scottish service starts" Rail Magazine issue 369 3 November 1999 page 11
  18. ^ "SRA hits Arriva with £2m fine" The Railway Magazine issue 1208 December 2001 page 14
  19. ^ "Arriva fined £2m as 1,000 services a week cancelled" Rail Express issue 67 December 2001 page 10
  20. ^ "Strategic Rail Authority confirms Arriva Trains Northern £2m fine" Rail Magazine issue 433 17 April 2002 page 4
  21. ^ "Arriva Northern switches to emergency timetable" The Railway Magazine issue 1209 January 2002 page 8
  22. ^ "Northern Spirit and Cardiff swap DMUs" Rail Magazine issue 340 23 September 1998 page 9
  23. ^ "RRNE confirms orders for 16 Class 333 EMUs for West Yorkshire" Rail Magazine issue 327 25 March 1998 page 10
  24. ^ "Arriva's Northern Spirit Class 333 EMU is delivered" Rail Magazine issue 379 22 March 2000 page 7
  25. ^ "Class 333s in service at last" The Railway Magazine issue 1199 March 2001 page 11
  26. ^ "EWS 37s for Leeds-Carlisle Arriva trains" Rail Magazine issue 466 23 July 2003 page 16
  27. ^ "Arriva Trains Northern to run loco-hauled service over S&C" Rail Express issue 87 August 2003 page 5
  28. ^ "Loco-hauled trains back on the S&C" The Railway Magazine issue 1229 1 September 2003 page 7
  29. ^ "Arriva settles with EWS" Rail Magazine issue 480 4 February 2004 page 40
  30. ^ "New look for West Yorkshire units" Rail Magazine issue 344 18 November 1998 page 8
  31. ^ "West Yorkshire PTE unveils new Class 158 livery" The Railway Magazine issue 1173 January 1999 page 56
  32. ^ "TransPennine TOC to be created by SSRA puts five franchises up for sale early" The Railway Magazine issue 1189 May 2000 page 37
  33. ^ The Trans-Pennine Express rail franchise Archived 20 October 2004 at the Wayback Machine Yorkshire & The Humber Transport Activist's Roundtable Briefing Note October 2001
  34. ^ SRA Announce Preferred Bidder for TransPennine Express Franchise Strategic Rail Authority 28 July 2003
  35. ^ "First wins TranPennine Express and promises new 100mph trains" Rail Magazine issue 468 20 August 2003 page 10
  36. ^ "First Group to operate Trans-Pennine Express" Rail Express issue 88 September 2003 page 7
  37. ^ "Trans Pennine DMU order follows franchise victory for First Group/Keolis joint bid" The Railway Magazine issue 1230 October 2003 page 35
  38. ^ Serco joint venture selected as preferred bidder for Northern Rail train operating franchise Archived 27 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine Serco Group 1 July 2004
  39. ^ "Serco and NedRailways joint bid secures new Northern franchise" Rail Express issue 99 August 2004 page 5

External links[edit]

Media related to Arriva Trains Northern at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by Operator of the Regional Railways North East franchise
Succeeded by
Northern Rail
Northern Rail franchise
Succeeded by
First TransPennine Express
TransPennine Express franchise