1 March 2020–1 March 2022
|Parent company||HM Government (Department for Transport)|
|Predecessor||Arriva Rail North|
Northern Trains (legally Northern Trains Limited) is a publicly-owned train operating company in England which commenced operating the Northern franchise on 1 March 2020. It is operated by DfT OLR Holdings, after the previous operator Arriva Rail North had its franchise terminated at the end of February 2020.
The franchise was established in March 2020 with the immediate aims to improve service reliability and completion of the introduction of new rolling stock in the Class 195 and 331, which was successfully completed in December 2020. Further aims include further fleet standardisation strategy.
The franchise encountered a number of problems. In May 2018, a new timetable was introduced, however rolling stock and crew shortages resulted in widespread delays and cancellations from which the operator never recovered.
In October 2019, the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, issued a request for proposals to incumbent operator Arriva and the operator of last resort, which would result in termination of the franchise with either Arriva to be awarded a short-term management contract or the operator of last resort to take over. The DfT decided to terminate the franchise with the operator of last resort to take over.
Northern took over all the services operated by Arriva Rail North on 1 March 2020.
Table of off-peak services
Below is a list of off-peak services, per December 2019 timetables. It has been slightly simplified due to some routes' irregular service pattern. Due to the extensive nature of the network, it has been split by geographic area. Some services are listed in more than one place.
Cumbria and North Lancashire
Manchester (via Oxford Road and Piccadilly)
Manchester (via Victoria)
Leeds and West Yorkshire
South Yorkshire and Humber
Many of the additional services promised at the December 2017 and December 2019 recasts never materialised following the problems which arose at the May 2018 timetable recast (the delayed December 2017 recast.) In January 2021, the government initiated a consultation proposing three options for the May 2022 recast.
Option A involves few changes but does involve reducing the frequency of Buxton services, diverting all Southport services into Manchester Victoria and re-routing Cumbria to Manchester Airport services via Bolton. Option C involves a significant recast to standardise services, which would see at least half-hourly services on most commuter lines in the Manchester area and more evenly spaced services e.g. services every 15 minutes at Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme. However, option C does include some non-standard services operating at peak time e.g. Southport to Manchester Oxford Road and Wigan to Hazel Grove. Option B involves making more changes than option A but involves less significant changes than option C would see. Option A would see the fewest services overall, whereas option C would see the most. 
Northern Trains took over all of the rolling stock operated by its predecessor, namely Class 142, 144, 150, 153, 155, 156, 158, 170 and 195 diesel multiple units and Class 319, 321, 322, 323, 331 and 333 electric multiple units. All Class 321 and 322s were withdrawn in mid-2020 and moved to Greater Anglia.
|Trainset[clarification needed – discuss]||Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Carriages||Routes||Built|
|Diesel multiple units|
|Sprinter||150/0||DMU||75||121||6||3||Local and commuter services across the North||1984|
|153 Super Sprinter||15||1||
|155 Super Sprinter||7||2|
|156 Super Sprinter||47||2||Local, commuter and regional services across the North||1987–89|
|158/0 & 158/9 Express Sprinter||90||140||45||2||Regional express and commuter services in West Yorkshire
Regional express and commuter services in the North East
|Electric multiple units|
|BR Second Generation (Mark 3)||319/3||EMU||100||161||15||4||Electrified commuter services in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire||1990|
|323||90||145||17||3||Electrified commuter services in and around Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Merseyside||1992-96|
|Siemens/CAF||333||16||4||Electrified commuter services in West Yorkshire||2000-03|
|Bi-Mode Multiple Units|
|BR Second Generation (Mark 3)||769/4||BMU||100||161||8||4||Southport - Alderley Edge||2017-2020 (1987-1988 as Class 319)|
17 Class 323s are to be transferred from West Midlands Trains This will result in the withdrawal of all Class 319 units. 15 Class 156s are to transfer from East Midlands Railway which includes the 9 Class 156/9s formerly used by Greater Anglia. These will be used to remove the Class 153s from service in late 2021.
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Carriages||Routes||Built||In service|
|Diesel multiple units|
|150/2 Sprinter||DMU||75||121||3||2||Local services across the North||1986-87||2021|
|156/4, /9 Sprinter||75||121||15||2||Local, commuter and regional services across the North||1987-89||2021|
|Electric multiple units|
Former train types operated by Northern Trains include:
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Carriages||Routes||Notes||Built||Left fleet|
|142 Pacer||DMU||75||121||79||2||Local and commuter services across the North||1985–87||2020|
|153 Super Sprinter||2||1||Replaced by Class 150 units.
(Transferred to Abellio ScotRail)
|321/9||EMU||100||161||3||4||Electrified commuter services in West Yorkshire||Replaced by Class 331 units. Transferred to Greater Anglia.||1991|
This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2021)
Northern Trains currently has depots for its train crew at Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool North, Buxton, Carlisle, Darlington (drivers), Doncaster, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Liverpool Lime Street, Leeds, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria, Middlesbrough (conductors), Newcastle, Sheffield, Skipton, Wigan Wallgate, Workington and York.
|Allerton TMD||150, 156, 195, 319, 323, 331, 769||Liverpool South Parkway|
|Blackburn King Street TMD||150, 156, 195||Blackburn|
|Botanic Gardens TMD||08, 155, 158, 170||Hull Paragon|
|Heaton TMD||156, 158||Newcastle|
|Newton Heath TMD||150, 153, 156, 195||Manchester Victoria|
|Neville Hill TMD||153, 155, 158, 170, 331, 333||Leeds|
|Wigan Springs Branch TMD||158, 195, 319, 331, 769||Wigan North Western|
- "National Rail Enquiries - Northern". www.nationalrail.co.uk. Retrieved 2021-07-27.
- "About Northern". www.northernrailway.co.uk. Retrieved 2021-07-22.
- "Department for Transport apply for Northern Trains Limited Direct Award". Rail Advent.
- "Northern Trains Limited". Companies House. Archived from the original on 24 December 2020. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
- "Northern plans more new trains after CAF milestone". www.railmagazine.com. 2021-06-01.
- Northern and TransPennine Express franchises awarded Railway Gazette International 9 December 2015
- Arriva and First win franchises with 500 new carriages promise The Railway Magazine issue 1378 January 2016 page 6
- Unacceptable #NorthernFail – the travel chaos passengers faced on first working day of new Northern timetable Manchester Evening News 21 May 2018
- Northern trains axed amid timetable carnage BBC News 1 June 2018
- Northern franchise to end within months Modern Railways issue 857 February 2020 page 8
- Northern rail to be stripped of franchise, says Grant Shapps The Guardian 2 January 2020
- Northern rail to be renationalised – and some Beeching closures could reopen The Guardian 27 January 2020
- Ministers set to renationalise failed Northern rail franchise Financial Times 28 January 2020
- "Northern Trains – Timetables". Northern. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
- "Consultation launched to improve Manchester's railways". GOV.UK. 2021-01-14. Retrieved 2021-04-18.
- "Manchester Recovery Task Force Public Consultation" (PDF). GOV.UK. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-01-22. Retrieved 2021-06-23.
- Northern finishes with Dusty Bins Railways Illustrated July 2020 page 16
- Class 323 EMUs to remain in traffic with Northern Rail issue 886 28 August 2019 page 30
- First refurbished Class 323 for Northern Railways Illustrated January 2020 page 9
- Class 323s to remain with Northern in favour of 319s Today's Railways UK issue 214 October 2019 page 69
- More 156s for Northern Modern Railways issue 870 March 2021 page 87
- "Northern to retain 323s". Modern Railways. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 2019-08-15.
- "Class 730 Fleet". West Midlands Railway. Retrieved 2021-05-31.
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