Northern Rail

2020-01-29 -
Array, ASLEF

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers' union, has responded to today's announcement by Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, that the Northern franchise is to be brought back into public ownership.

Mick said: 'We welcome today's decision, because we want the railway in public ownership, but let's do it properly, with a clear, long-term, strategic vision, not just as a short-term response to the years of franchised failure.

'There won’t be an immediate improvement because many of the systemic failures at Northern – the late delivery of new rolling stock, the cancellation by the Conservative government of infrastructure upgrades, trying to run a service with too few drivers – cannot be remedied overnight.

'Northern needs investment – the north of England has had much less than the south – and it won't be a success until significant sums are invested in modernising its 19th century infrastructure. We need to build connectivity across the north, for passengers and for businesses, by engaging with metro mayors like Andy Burnham in Manchester and Steve Rotheram in Liverpool.

'And the plight of passengers would have been much worse without the flexibility of our members, who are also impacted when services are cancelled, because the company has never employed enough drivers to deliver the service it promised.'