12 December 2004 – 31 March 2016
|Main region(s)||North West, North East,|
Yorkshire and the Humber
|Other region(s)||East Midlands and Staffordshire|
|Stations called at||526|
|Successor||Arriva Rail North|
Northern Rail, branded as Northern, was an English train operating company owned by Serco-Abellio that operated the Northern Rail franchise from 2004 until 2016. It was the primary passenger train operator in Northern England, and operated the most stations of any train operating company in the United Kingdom. Northern Rail was replaced on 1 April 2016 by Arriva Rail North.
In 2000 the Strategic Rail Authority announced that it planned to reorganise the North West Regional Railways and Regional Railways North East franchises operated by First North Western and Arriva Trains Northern. A TransPennine Express franchise would be created for the long-distance regional services, with the remaining services to be operated by a new Northern Rail franchise.
On 1 July 2004 the Strategic Rail Authority awarded the franchise to Serco-NedRailways, beating FirstGroup. The franchise was awarded for six years and nine months, with a two-year extension subject to performance targets being achieved.
Serco-NedRailways' bid had assumed that some Class 142 Pacer trains would be released imminently when Manchester Metrolink services started between Manchester and Oldham. Due to a substantial delay in extending the Metrolink, it became clear that this was not going to be the case. As a result, the contract signing was delayed, and the services operated by First North Western and Arriva Trains Northern did not transfer to Northern until 12 December 2004.
In May 2010 the Department for Transport confirmed that Northern had met the performance targets, and the franchise was extended for two years until September 2013. In May 2012 the Department for Transport granted Northern a six-month extension until 31 March 2014. In March 2013 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the franchise would be further extended to February 2016.
Before Abellio and Serco's Northern Rail franchise came to an end, unit 158906 received a refurbishment on one of its carriages which included free Wi-Fi, destination displays showing the expected time of arrival, and USB ports at each table.
In December 2008 Northern Rail introduced an express service from Leeds to Nottingham calling at Wakefield Kirkgate, Barnsley, Meadowhall, Sheffield, Dronfield, Chesterfield, Alfreton and Langley Mill using a Class 158 unit. The 10:17 service from Sheffield on Sundays continues to Carlisle creating a direct train service between Sheffield and Carlisle for the first time since the demise of British Rail. The service returns from Carlisle at 15:10.
In May 2015 Northern Rail announced the re-introduction of a direct service between Blackburn and Manchester Victoria via Burnley following the reopening of the Todmorden Curve. The service operates hourly, seven days a week.
Services on the route from Thorpes Bridge Junction, Newton Heath to Rochdale East Junction via Oldham, known as the Oldham Loop Line, ceased on 3 October 2009. The line was subsequently converted for Manchester Metrolink operation and reopened as a Metrolink route in 2012.
Northern Electrics was a brand offering electrified rail from Liverpool to Manchester.
Northern Rail won Public Transport Operator of the Year 2007 at the National Transport Awards and was praised by the judges for attracting 20% more passengers since 2004. When the extension of its franchise was announced, Northern Rail stated that it had improved punctuality from 83.7% in the 12 months to December 2004 to 91.6% in the 12 months to May 2010, meaning that around 200 more trains per day were on time than in 2004.
In the period 15 October 2009 to 14 November 2009, Northern's punctuality was 91.1% and reliability was 92.2%. Northern Rail's passenger charter targets were 91% for punctuality and 99% for reliability.
The franchise agreement commits to a 15% reduction in delays in the first five years and to a new 'incentive/penalty regime' and a more 'local focus on performance'.
The annual report for 2012, published in March 2013, of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen stated that Northern Rail transported 263,000 passengers daily. The customer satisfaction decreased to 80%. In May 2011 Northern Rail received the "Sustainable Business of the Year" award.
Northern Rail operated a large diesel fleet, which was used on most services. There was also a smaller electric fleet used on shorter distance services around Leeds and Manchester and on services between Liverpool and Manchester.
Northern Rail inherited a fleet of Class 142, 144, 150, 153 155, 156, 158 diesel multiple units and Class 321, 322, 323 and 333 electric multiple units from Arriva Trains Northern and First North Western.
In March 2007 Northern Rail announced it would be acquiring a further 30 Class 158s from Arriva Trains Wales, Central Trains and First Great Western to replace 26 Class 142 Pacers. Northern Rail ended up only receiving 19 Class 158s, but did gain eight centre carriages from East Midlands Trains in 2008 that were inserted into Northern's ex First North Western Class 158s. Twelve Class 142 Pacers were placed in store but reactivated by the end of 2008 when they were sublet to First Great Western from December 2008 and the balance returning to service with Northern.
In Autumn 2008 five Class 142 Pacers returned from First Great Western with the remaining seven following in Autumn 2011.
Fleet at end of franchise
|Mark 2 carriage||Coach||6||1963–75|
|153 Super Sprinter||18||1987–88|
|155 Super Sprinter||7||
|156 Super Sprinter||42||
|158/7 Express Sprinter||90||140||35||Express services including:
Also occasionally seen on the Harrogate Line and other services as a replacement for booked Class 142/144/150s etc.
|158/9 Express Sprinter||10|
|319/3||EMU||100||161||20||Electrified services out of Liverpool Lime Street:
Also used on peak-time weekday services on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines
|323||90||140||17||Electrified routes in and out of Manchester Piccadilly:
As of 2009, Northern Rail operated 471 stations; more than any other train operating company in the UK. The number fell to 462 later in the same year following closure of the Oldham Loop Line, and increased to 463 by 2013. New stations include Buckshaw Parkway in 2011 and James Cook in 2014. As of 2013, trains operated by Northern Rail called at 526 stations.
The depots used by Northern Rail were located at:
- Allerton (AN)
- Blackpool North LMD (BP)
- Barrow-in-Furness (BW) (Overnight cleaning)
- Buxton (BX) (Overnight Cleaning)
- Carlisle Station (Overnight cleaning)
- Heaton (Newcastle upon Tyne) (HT)
- Hull Botanic Gardens (BG)
- Longsight TRSMD (Manchester) (LO)
- Neville Hill (Leeds) (NL)
- Leeds Holbeck (HO) (Light maintenance and Refurbishments)
- Newton Heath TMD (Manchester) (NH)
- Sheffield Station (SM)
- Stockport Carriage Sidings (SQ) (Light maintenance and cleaning)
- Skipton Broughton Road Carriage sidings (333 Stabling)
- Workington (WK) (overnight cleaning for Cumbrian Coast)
- Wigan Wallgate Carriage Sidings (Overnight cleaning)
- Train crew depots
- Darlington (Driver only)
- Middlesbrough (guard only)
- Blackpool North
- Liverpool Lime Street
- Wigan Wallgate
- Manchester Victoria
- Manchester Piccadilly
- Hull Paragon
To run the Cleethorpes to Barton service, one class 153 was stabled at Cleethorpes overnight and was cleaned, the train crew which ran the service were First TransPennine Express staff.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2021)
The use of older and poorly maintained rolling stock on busy commuter routes was a recurring criticism of Northern Rail throughout its operation.
Approach to fare evasion
Northern Rail had a reputation for its rather tough approach on fare evasion, and was known to take passengers to court for underpaying by a matter of pence.
- "About Northern: Facts and Figures". Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
- Companies House extract company no 4619954 Northern Rail Limited
- "The Trans-Pennine Express rail franchise" (PDF). Yorkshire & The Humber Transport Activist's Roundtable Briefing Note. October 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 October 2004.
- "Serco-NedRailways Announced as Preferred Bidder for new Northern Rail Franchise" (PDF) (Press release). Strategic Rail Authority. 1 July 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 August 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
- "Rail Report No.62" (PDF). Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association. December 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
- "Serco/NED Rail is poised to secure Northern franchise". Rail (492). Peterborough. 21 July 2004. p. 14.
- "Rail Report No.61" (PDF). Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association. Autumn 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2009.
- "Northern Secures Two Year Franchise Extension" (Press release). Northern Rail. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
- "Stock Exchange Announcement" (PDF). Serco. 13 May 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 November 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- "Northern Rail granted franchise continuation". Rail.co. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
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- "Contract News Update 14" (PDF). Serco. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 December 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
- "Railway plan puts new focus on passengers". Secretary of State for Transport statement 26 March 2013.
- "Shortlist for Northern and TransPennine operators revealed" (Press release). Department for Transport. 19 August 2014.
- "Northern franchise awarded to Arriva" (Press release). Arriva. 9 December 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- "Massive boost to rail services brings Northern Powerhouse to life" (Press release). Department for Transport. 9 December 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
- "Northern and TransPennine Express franchises awarded". Railway Gazette International. London. 9 December 2015.
- "158 STAY CONNECTED (CONCEPT)". Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
- "Extra Leeds Nottingham Train Services Announced" (Press release). Northern Rail. 22 November 2006.
- "Northern Introduces New Nottingham-Leeds Service" (Press release). Northern Rail. 12 December 2008.
- "Celebrate The Curve As East Lancashire To Manchester Services Return" (Press release). Northern Rail. 14 May 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "Todmorden Curve". Northern Rail. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "Oldham Loop rail line closure" (PDF). GMPTE information poster. Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive. September 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 July 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
- Chambers, Bradd; Journalism, J. M. U. "First journey for revitalised train service". Retrieved 12 December 2020.
"Northern Rail Wins Public Transport Operator of the Year" (Press release). Northern Rail. 16 August 2007. Retrieved 31 May 2008.
The judges praised the company, which runs local and regional trains across the north of England, for its success in attracting 20% more passengers since it started in 2004.
- Performance figures, Northern Rail.
- "New Northern Rail Franchise Signed" (PDF) (Press release). Strategic Rail Authority. 19 October 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 August 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
- "Rail performance results period 7". Network Rail. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
- "Annual Report 2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2013. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
- "158 Reshuffle Boosts Fleet". Rail Magazine. No. 551. 25 October 2006. p. 55.
- Angel Trains Leases 30 Class 158 Diesel Multiple Units to Northern Rail Northern News 19 March 2007
- "30 Class 158's Bound for Northern by the End of 2007". Rail Magazine. No. 562. 28 March 2007. p. 17.
- "December Timetable Triggers DMU Cascade". Rail Magazine. No. 580. 5 December 2007. p. 12.
- "Train Operator's Fluctuating Fleets". Rail Magazine. No. 583. 16 January 2008. p. 45.
- "Third Adelante for Northern". Rail Magazine. No. 606. 3 December 2008. p. 69.
- Class 322 scot-rail.co.uk
- "Better Rail Services Between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport" (Press release). Northern Rail. 5 March 2015. Archived from the original on 10 June 2015.
- "Loco-hauled services to return to the Cumbrian coast". Railway Herald. 8 January 2015.
- "Bigger Trains and Changes Ahead For Cumbria's Coastal Rail Route" (Press release). Northern Rail. 18 May 2015.
- "Northern launches first regular direct service between Nottingham and Leeds for 25 years" (Press release). Northern Rail. 15 December 2008. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011.
- "Yorkshire and Humber Route Utilisation Strategy Draft" (PDF). Network Rail. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
- "Better Rail Stations – Part B" (PDF). Department for Transport. 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 September 2014.
- Action stations booklet Archived 14 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Network Rail, 2009
- Transformation in Partnership – Northern Prospectus, Department for Transport, June 2014
- Siddle, John (27 January 2014). "Northern Rail, which runs the Southport to Manchester line, told to improve its services after announcing ticket price hikes". Southport Visiter. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
- "Law student gets £1,000 bill". Yorkshire Post. Leeds. 9 March 2006. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2011.