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Northern (train operating company)

Northern is a train operating company in Northern England which began operating the Northern franchise on 1 April 2016 and inherited units from the previous operator Northern Rail. A subsidiary of Arriva UK Trains, Northern is the second largest train franchise in the United Kingdom with its services calling at 528 stations - representing approximately a quarter of all stations in the country.[1][2]

331001 approaching Crewe platform 1.jpg
A Northern Class 331 on test at Crewe
1 April 2016 – 31 March 2025
Main Region(s)North West
North East
Yorkshire and the Humber
Other Region(s)East Midlands
Fleet size392 units[nb 1]
Stations called at528
Stations operated476
Parent companyArriva UK Trains

Central to franchise commitments will be a £500 million investment in 101 new-built units – the Class 195 and 331.[3] These will be the first new-build trains for the Northern franchise since the introduction of the Class 333 in 2000 and the new rolling stock will enable all 102 Pacer trains currently in service with Northern to be retired by the end of 2019. Additionally, it is planned that a franchise sub-brand, known as Northern Connect, will provide inter-urban services between major cities and towns in Northern England, as well as serving a number of major commuting stations.

However since the franchise began in April 2016, it has been beset by falling punctuality,[4][5] poor customer service,[6] regular industrial action by staff,[7] unpopular irregular calling patterns at commuter stations as part of timetable changes[8] and delays in introducing new rolling stock.[9] Despite passenger growth at the vast majority of train operating companies in the United Kingdom and the Northern franchise operating more services[nb 2], the number of passengers carried since the franchise commenced in 2016 has declined and has been attributed to worsening performance.[10][11] The franchise will run to 2025 with an option for an additional year which is dependent on performance.[12][13]



In August 2014, the Department for Transport announced that Abellio, Arriva and Govia had been shortlisted to bid for the next Northern franchise.[14][15] The franchise was awarded to Arriva in December 2015.[16]

In May 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority launched an investigation into the transport department's decision to award the Northern network to Arriva.[17] Arriva operated the CrossCountry franchise and owned many bus companies in the Northern trains operating area in which 'a significant overlap occurs without competition from other service providers.'[18]

Penalty faresEdit

As part of the new Franchise Agreement agreed in 2016, the Department of Transport required the introduction of a penalty fare scheme across 60% of the Northern network by the end of 2019 and across the entire network by the end of 2022.[19][irrelevant citation] The scheme aimed to reduce ticketless travel to less than 4.3% by March 2020 and 3.2% by March 2025.[19] In April 2018, a penalty fare scheme under the Railways (Penalty Fares) Regulations 2018 commenced to encourage passengers to purchase a ticket before boarding trains.

As ticket machines at Northern managed stations do not accept cash, a 'Promise to Pay' notice system (similar to the Permit to Travel ticketing system) is in operation. Customers who wish to purchase a ticket at an unmanned station of origin (i.e. either a closed, or no ticket office) with cash are required to collect a 'Promise to Pay' notice prior to boarding from a ticket machine. These notices can then be exchanged with the on-board conductor or with a member of railway staff at the destination station for a paid ticket.[20] Section 6 of the Railways (Penalty Fares) Regulations 2018 also covers a number of scenarios that prohibit penalty fares being issued such 'no facilities in operation for the sale of a travel ticket for that passenger’s journey'.[21]

May 2018 timetable recastEdit

Passenger journeys on Northern, 2010/11 to Q1 2017/18 (in millions, annual rolling average)[22][23]
Northern Rail performance from commencement of franchise in April 2016 to November 2018. Graph generated from published period performance data by Arriva Rail North.[24]

The franchise was widely criticised for implementing a new timetable in May 2018 which resulted in widespread delays and cancellations.[25][26] Network Rail and Northern announced an independent inquiry to learn lessons and identify route alterations in readiness for the next timetable change in December 2018.[27] In an attempt to counter operational problems, Northern implemented an emergency timetable on 4 June 2018[28] – it stemmed some delays and cancellations but was still problematic compared with performance before the timetable change.

Punctuality was particularly bad in the North West due to the delay in the Blackpool-Preston electrification scheme and the number of trains per hour through Manchester increased with more services utilising the Ordsall Chord which became operational in December 2017. Network Rail only informed train operating companies in January 2018 that the electrification scheme would be delayed until November – Northern had planned for the scheme to be complete as scheduled by May (having already been postponed from Autumn 2017) and had trained drivers to operate new routes with electric rolling stock. Consequently, an alternative timetable had to be drafted up and many train drivers were not sufficiently trained to drive the existing diesel rolling stock which resulted in widespread cancellations.[29] Furthermore, the additional services through the Manchester corridor resulted in increased congestion and which had a knock-on effect.[30] Performance statistics published by the Office of Rail and Road in October 2018 showed that from April to June 2018, the franchise recorded the lowest PPM – measured by train service departing within 5 minutes of its scheduled time – of any quarter since punctuality records began on the Northern franchise in 2009.[31]

Performance towards the latter half of the 2018 continued to be poor with many passengers protesting and the network beset by a reduced service on Saturdays due to industrial action.[32][33] In October 2018 it was announced that Manchester Oxford Road station, the busiest station managed by Northern with over 8 million passengers, was the most delayed station in the United Kingdom in 2018 – this was attributed to the chaos following the May 2018 timetable.[34][35] Between 14 October and 10 November 2018, Northern recorded the worst monthly performance on record with more trains late than on time. Less than 40% of services arrived on time (defined as services arriving within 59 seconds of the planned arrival time) and only 71.9% departed within 5 minutes of the scheduled departure time.[36]

By November 2018, Arriva were re-evaluating their future involvement in the franchise due to a combination of declining passenger numbers as a result of the chaotic May 2018 timetable change and increasing compensation claims as a result of falling punctuality.[37] Both have pushed the franchise into a loss-making entity and face a £282 million government subsidy shortfall which was due to be passed onto the franchise.[11] Since the franchise commenced in April 2016 and despite an increase of 1,500 more weekly services transferred to Northern's operational remit, Northern has achieved no growth in passenger numbers.[38] Between April and June 2018, the franchise suffered a 2.4% decline in passenger numbers compared with the previous year. Of the twenty two train operating companies in the United Kingdom to record a fall in passengers, Northern were one of only three franchises to record an annual drop in passenger numbers in 2017–18.[39]

Statistics published in December 2018 showed that between April 2017 and March 2018, many Northern managed stations recorded a drop in passengers – this period did not include the May 2018 timetable change or increased level of Saturday strikes by conductors.[40] The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, also reported that the failing railways in the region was resulting in increased congestion on the roads and Metrolink system as passengers were abandoning the rail service due to increased level of unreliability in the area since May 2018.[41] To counter continuing poor performance and encourage improved punctuality, the window for which passengers can claim compensation for delayed services was reduced from 30 minutes to 15 minutes from 17 December 2018.[42]

Minor changes were implemented in the December 2018 timetable change. However Northern stated they did not expect a reliable service to be implemented until the May 2019 timetable change; it is expected by this time there will be new rolling stock in service with the Class 195 and Class 331, newly electrified lines operational which alleviates the shortage of diesel rolling stock in the Northern fleet and most notably operational flaws with the May 2018 timetable ironed out as part of better optimised timetable in May 2019.[43]

May 2019Edit

In May 2019, further Northern Connect services were introduced, namely the Chester to Leeds service[44], and the revised Manchester Airport to Barrow/Windermere service, to run via Wigan North Western. They also introduced an hourly service from Hull to Scarborough, doubling the service frequency on the Bridlington-Scarborough section of the line. However the May 2019 timetable does not include some of the improvements included in the original franchise agreement, such as a half-hourly service from Greenbank, Northwich, Knutsford & Altrincham to Stockport & Manchester, the additional Macclesfield, & Poynton to Manchester & Blackpool service or enhanced Sunday services.[45][46][47] The Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling responded by stating "both Northern and Network Rail feel the additional paths cannot be accommodated without adversely affecting the reliability of other services on the network".[48] An interim Chester to Altrincham shuttle was proposed to run on the Mid-Cheshire line until a full recast of Manchester services allowed the additional Greenbank to Manchester to be introduced. [49] However, Northern failed to get paths approved by Network Rail for such a service to be introduced. Arriva's franchise bid also included 4 trains per hour to Hazel Grove from December 2017, these have also not been implemented. However, the franchise requirements set out in the invitation to tender were 3 trains per hour to Hazel Grove, 2 trains per hour to New Mills Newton and 1 train per hour to Buxton, so as Northern currently deliver 3 trains per hour to Hazel Grove and 2 trains per hour to Buxton, they are still exceeding meeting the original requirement on the Hazel Grove & Buxton route. [50]


Northern took over all the services operated by Northern Rail (also branded Northern) on 1 April 2016[51] and on the same date, services between Manchester Airport and Blackpool North, Manchester Airport and Barrow in Furness and Oxenholme to Windermere from First TransPennine Express.[52]

Northern took over responsibility for all the stations managed by Northern Rail, as well as Arnside, Barrow-in-Furness, Birchwood, Burneside, Carnforth, Grange-over-Sands, Kendal, Staveley, Ulverston, Warrington Central and Windermere from First TransPennine Express.[52] Northern will staff some currently unstaffed stations. The first stations to be staffed will be Baildon and Ben Rhydding,[53] both in West Yorkshire.

Northern has committed to introducing free Wi-Fi on trains, and new ticketing options including the ability for customers to print their own tickets.[54] Arriva will provide new services across the North of England.[55]

The Cleethorpes to Barton-on-Humber service will transfer to East Midlands Railway in August 2019.[52][56][57] The transfer will include Barrow Haven, Barton upon Humber, Goxhill, Great Coates, Grimsby Docks, Habrough, Healing, New Clee, New Holland, Stallingborough, Thornton Abbey and Ulceby stations.

On 1 July 2016, the business was divided into four regions, each headed up by a regional director:[58]

  • Central – regional director based in Manchester
  • East – regional director based in Leeds
  • North East – regional director based in Newcastle upon Tyne
  • West – regional director based in Preston

Table of off-peak servicesEdit

Below is a list of off-peak services, per the 20 May – 8 December 2018 timetables.[59] It has been slightly simplified due to some routes' irregular service pattern. Several routes which Northern run only have limited or peak service and are omitted.

Liverpool to Wigan and Blackpool
Route tph Calling at
Liverpool Lime Street to Wigan North Western 2 Edge Hill, Wavertree Technology Park, Broad Green, Roby, Huyton, Prescot, Eccleston Park, Thatto Heath, St Helens Central, Garswood and Bryn
Liverpool Lime Street to Blackpool North 1 Huyton, St Helens Central, Wigan North Western, Euxton, Leyland, Preston, Kirkham & Wesham, Poulton-le-Fylde
Liverpool to Warrington and Manchester
Route tph Calling at
Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Airport 1 Liverpool South Parkway, Warrington Central, Birchwood, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly and Mauldeth Road
Some trains call additionally at East Didsbury; Sunday services call at East Didsbury instead of Mauldeth Road.
Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Oxford Road 1 Mossley Hill, West Allerton, Liverpool South Parkway, Hough Green, Widnes, Warrington Central, Padgate, Birchwood, Glazebrook, Irlam, Flixton, Chassen Road (1tp2h), Urmston and Deansgate
1 Edge Hill, Mossley Hill, West Allerton, Liverpool South Parkway, Hunts Cross, Halewood, Hough Green, Widnes, Sankey for Penketh, Warrington Central, Birchwood, Irlam, Urmston, Humphrey Park (1tp2h), Trafford Park (1tp2h) and Deansgate
Liverpool Lime Street to Warrington Bank Quay 1 Edge Hill, Wavertree Technology Park, Broad Green, Roby, Huyton, Whiston, Rainhill, Lea Green, St Helens Junction and Earlestown
Liverpool Lime Street to Crewe 1 Edge Hill, Wavertree Technology Park, Broad Green, Roby, Huyton, Whiston, Rainhill, Lea Green, St Helens Junction, Earlestown, Newton-le-Willows, Patricroft, Eccles, Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Mauldeth Road, Burnage, East Didsbury, Gatley, Heald Green, Manchester Airport, Styal, Wilmslow, Alderley Edge, Holmes Chapel and Sandbach
WCML Manchester Lines
Route tph Calling at
Manchester Piccadilly to Crewe 1 Levenshulme, Heaton Chapel, Stockport, Cheadle Hulme, Handforth, Wilmslow, Alderley Edge, Chelford, Goostrey, Holmes Chapel and Sandbach
Manchester Piccadilly to Stoke-on-Trent 1 Stockport, Cheadle Hulme, Bramhall, Poynton, Adlington, Prestbury, Macclesfield, Congleton and Kidsgrove
Mid-Cheshire Line
Route tph Calling at
Manchester Piccadilly to Chester 1 Stockport, Navigation Road, Altrincham, Hale, Ashley, Mobberley, Knutsford, Plumley, Lostock Gralam, Northwich, Greenbank, Cuddington, Delamere and Mouldsworth
Buxton Line
Route tph Calling at
Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton 1 Stockport, Davenport, Woodsmoor, Hazel Grove, Disley, New Mills Newtown, Whaley Bridge and Chapel-en-le-Frith
1 Levenshulme, Heaton Chapel, Stockport, Davenport, Woodsmoor, Hazel Grove, Middlewood (1tp2h), Disley, New Mills Newtown, Furness Vale, Whaley Bridge, Chapel-en-le-Frith and Dove Holes
Manchester Piccadilly to Hazel Grove 1 Levenshulme, Heaton Chapel, Stockport, Davenport and Woodsmoor
Glossop and Hope Valley Lines
Route tph Calling at
Manchester Piccadilly to Hadfield 2 Ashburys, Guide Bridge, Flowery Field, Newton for Hyde, Godley, Hattersley, Broadbottom, Dinting and Glossop
Manchester Piccadilly to Rose Hill Marple 2 Gorton, Fairfield (1tph), Guide Bridge, Hyde North (1tph), Hyde Central, Woodley and Romiley
Manchester Piccadilly to New Mills Central 1 Ashburys, Belle Vue (irregular), Ryder Brow, Reddish North, Brinnington, Bredbury, Romiley, Marple and Strines (1tp2h)
Manchester Piccadilly to Sheffield 1 Reddish North, Brinnington, Bredbury, Romiley, Marple, New Mills Central, Chinley, Edale, Hope, Bamford, Hathersage, Grindleford and Dore & Totley
Manchester to Wigan and Preston
Route tph Calling at
Manchester Airport to Blackpool North 1 Heald Green, Gatley, East Didsbury, Burnage,Mauldeth Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Deansgate, Salford Crescent, Bolton, Horwich Parkway, Blackrod, Chorley, Buckshaw Parkway, Preston and Poulton-le-Fylde.
Gatley and Burnage are served only by northbound (and late evening) trains. Mauldeth Road, East Didsbury and Blackrod are served irregularly.
Hazel Grove to Blackpool North 1 Woodsmoor, Davenport, Stockport, Heaton Chapel, Levenshulme, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Deansgate, Salford Crescent, Bolton, Lostock (northbound only), Horwich Parkway, Chorley, Buckshaw Parkway, Leyland, Preston and Poulton-le-Fylde
Monday-Saturday only.
Manchester Victoria to Preston 1 Salford Central, Salford Crescent, Bolton, Lostock, Horwich Parkway, Blackrod, Adlington, Chorley, Buckshaw Parkway and Leyland
Manchester Airport to Barrow-in-Furness/Windermere 1 Heald Green, Gatley, East Didsbury, Burnage, Mauldeth Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Wigan North Western, Leyland, Preston, Lancaster then onwards to the trains relevant destination, calling at all stations.
Gatley and Burnage are served only by southbound trains. East Didsbury is served only by northbound trains. Mauldeth Road served irregularly.
Alderley Edge to Wigan North Western 1 Wilmslow, Handforth, Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, Heaton Chapel, Levenshulme, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Salford Crescent, Bolton, Westhoughton and Hindley.
Stalybridge to Wigan North Western 1 Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester Victoria, Salford Central, Salford Crescent, Kearsley, Farnworth, Moses Gate, Bolton, Westhoughton and Hindley
Stalybridge to Manchester Victoria 1 Ashton-under-Lyne
Manchester Victoria to Kirkby 1 Salford Central, Salford Crescent, Swinton, Moorside, Walkden, Atherton, Hag Fold, Daisy Hill, Hindley, Wigan Wallgate, Pemberton, Orrell, Upholland and Rainford
Manchester to Blackburn
Route tph Calling at
Rochdale to Blackburn (and Clitheroe) 2 Castleton, Mills Hill, Moston, Manchester Victoria, Salford Central, Salford Crescent, Bolton, Hall I' Th' Wood, Bromley Cross, Entwistle and Darwen
1tph extends to/from Clitheroe, calling at Ramsgreave & Wilpshire, Langho and Whalley
Blackburn to Southport 1 Accrington, Rose Grove, Burnley Manchester Road, Todmorden, Littleborough, Smithy Bridge, Rochdale, Manchester Victoria, Salford Central, Salford Crescent, Swinton, Walkden, Atherton, Daisy Hill, Hindley, Wigan Wallgate, Gathurst, Appley Bridge, Parbold, Hoscar (irregular), Burscough Bridge, New Lane (irregular), Bescar Lane (irregular) and Meols Cop
Huddersfield Line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Southport 1 Cottingley, Morley, Dewsbury, Mirfield, Brighouse, Sowerby Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Walsden, Littleborough, Smithy Bridge, Rochdale, Manchester Victoria, Salford Central, Salford Crescent, Walkden, Atherton, Daisy Hill, Wigan Wallgate, Gathurst, Appley Bridge, Parbold, Burscough Bridge and Meols Cop
Wakefield Kirkgate to Huddersfield 1 Mirfield, Deighton
Caldervale Line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Preston 1 New Pudsey, Bradford Interchange, Halifax, Sowerby Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, Burnley Manchester Road, Accrington and Blackburn
Leeds to Manchester Victoria 2 Bramley, New Pudsey, Bradford Interchange, Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Rochdale, Castleton (1tph), Mills Hill (1tph) and Moston (1tph)
Leeds-Bradford Lines
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Huddersfield 1 Bramley, New Pudsey, Bradford Interchange, Low Moor, Halifax and Brighouse
Leeds to Bradford Forster Square 2 Kirkstall Forge, Apperley Bridge, Shipley and Frizinghall
Wharfedale Line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Ilkley 2 Guiseley, Menston, Burley-in-Wharfedale and Ben Rhydding
Bradford Forster Square to Ilkley 2 Frizinghall, Shipley, Baildon, Guiseley, Menston, Burley-in-Wharfdale and Ben Rhydding
Airedale Line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Skipton 2 Kirkstall Forge (limited), Apperley Bridge (limited), Shipley, Saltaire, Bingley, Crossflatts, Keighley, Steeton & Silsden, Cononley
Bradford Forster Square to Skipton 2 Frizinghall, Shipley, Saltaire, Bingley, Crossflats, Keighley, Steeton & Silsden and Cononley
'Little' North Western
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Lancaster 0.5 Shipley, Bingley, Keighley, Skipton, Gargrave, Hellifield, Long Preston, Giggleswick, Clapham, Bentham, Wennington and Carnforth
some trains continue to Bare Lane and Morecambe, providing additional service
Lancaster to Morecambe 1 Bare Lane. 1 train per day extends to/from Heysham Port.
Hourly service supplemented/modified by additional trains from Leeds.
Leeds to Carlisle 0.5 Shipley, Bingley, Keighley, Skipton, Gargrave (irregular), Hellifield, Long Preston (irregular), Settle, Horton in Ribblesdale, Ribblehead, Dent, Garsdale, Kirkby Stephen, Appleby, Langwathby, Lazonby & Kirkoswald and Armathwaite
Harrogate Line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Knaresborough (and York) 3 Burley Park, Headingley, Horsforth, Weeton, Pannal, Hornbeam Park, Harrogate and Starbeck.
1tph extends to/from York, calling at Cattal, Hammerton and Poppleton
Pontefract Line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Knottingley 1 Woodlesford, Castleford, Glasshoughton and Pontefract Monkhill. 3tpd are extended to and from Goole calling at Whitley Bridge, Hensall, Snaith and Rawcliffe.
1 Wakefield Westgate, Wakefield Kirkgate, Streethouse, Featherstone, Pontefract Tanshelf and Pontefract Monkhill
Wakefield Line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Doncaster 1 Outwood, Wakefield Westgate, Sandal & Agbrigg, Fitzwilliam, South Elmsall, Adwick and Bentley
Leeds to Sheffield 1 Outwood, Wakefield Westgate, Sandal & Agbrigg, Fitzwilliam, Moorthorpe, Thurnscoe, Goldthorpe, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Swinton, Rotherham Central and Meadowhall
Penistone Line
Route tph Calling at
Huddersfield to Sheffield 1 Lockwood, Berry Brow, Honley, Brockholes, Stocksmoor, Shepley, Denby Dale, Penistone, Silkstone Common, Dodworth, Barnsley, Wombwell, Elsecar, Chapeltown and Meadowhall, several services extended to Lincoln Central (3 trains per day) via Worksop (on Sundays several services are extended to Lincoln)
Hallam Line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Sheffield 1 Woodlesford, Castleford, Normanton, Wakefield Kirkgate, Darton, Barnsley, Wombwell, Elsecar, Chapletown and Meadowhall.
Leeds to Nottingham 1 Wakefield Kirkgate, Barnsley, Meadowhall, Sheffield, Dronfield, Chesterfield, Alfreton, Langley Mill and Ilkeston.
Leeds to Lincoln Central 1 Wakefield Kirkgate, Barnsley, Meadowhall, Sheffield, Worksop, Retford, Gainsborough Lea Road and Saxilby
York and Selby Lines and Dearne Valley Line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to York 1 Cross Gates, Garforth, East Garforth, Micklefield, Church Fenton and Ulleskelf (irregular).
Leeds to Selby 1 Cross Gates, Garforth, East Garforth, Micklefield and South Milford
York to Hull 0.5 Ulleskelf (irregular), Church Fenton, Sherburn-in-Elmet, Selby, Howden, Gilberdyke and Brough
0.5 Selby, Howden, Gilberdyke and Brough
York to Sheffield via Pontefract Baghill Ulleskelf, Church Fenton, Sherburn-in-Elmet, Pontefract Baghill, Moorthorpe, Swinton, Rotherham Central and Meadowhall.
Limited service, only 4tpd.
Sheffield to Humberside
Route tph Calling at
Sheffield to Adwick 1 Meadowhall, Rotherham Central, Swinton, Mexborough, Conisbrough, Doncaster, Bentley
Sheffield to Hull 1 Meadowhall, Rotherham Central, Swinton, Mexborough, Conisbrough, Doncaster, Kirk Sandall, Hatfield & Stainforth, Thorne North, Goole, Saltmarshe (irregular), Gilberdyke, Broomfleet (irregular), Brough, Ferriby and Hessle
Sheffield to Bridlington 1 Meadowhall, Doncaster, Goole, Brough, Hull, Cottingham, Beverley, Arram (limited), Hutton Cranswick, Driffield and Nafferton
Hull to Scarborough via Bridlington 1 Cottingham, Beverley, Arram (limited), Hutton Cranswick (irregular), Driffield, Nafferton (irregular), Bridlington, Bempton, Hunmanby, Filey and Seamer
Doncaster to Scunthorpe 1 Kirk Sandall, Hatfield & Stainforth, Thorne South, Crowle and Althorpe
Sheffield to Gainsborough Central

(and Cleethorpes)

1 Darnall, Woodhouse, Kiveton Bridge, Kiveton Park, Shireoaks, Worksop and Retford 3tpd on Saturdays extends to/from Cleethorpes calling at: Kirton Lindsey, Brigg, Barnetby, Habrough and Grimsby Town.
Barton Line
Route tph Calling at
Barton-on-Humber to Cleethorpes 0.5 Barrow Haven, New Holland, Goxhill, Thornton Abbey, Ulceby, Habrough, Stallingborough, Healing, Great Coates, Grimsby Town, Grimsby Docks and New Clee
Lancashire & Cumbria Coast
Route tph Calling at
Preston to Colne 1 Lostock Hall, Bamber Bridge, Pleasington, Cherry Tree, Mill Hill, Blackburn, Rishton, Church & Oswaldtwistle, Accrington, Huncoat, Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley Barracks, Burnley Central, Brierfield and Nelson
Preston to Ormskirk 1 Croston, Rufford and Burscough Junction
Preston to Blackpool South 1 Kirkham & Wesham, Moss Side, Lytham, Ansdell & Fairhaven, St Annes-on-the-Sea, Squires Gate and Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Lancaster to Barrow-in-Furness 1 Carnforth, Silverdale (irregular), Arnside, Grange-over-Sands, Kents Bank (irregular), Cark (irregular), Ulverston and Dalton (irregular), Roose (irregular)
Some trains extend to/from Manchester Airport via Preston, see above. Some trains extend to/from Carlisle, see below
Barrow-in-Furness to Carlisle 1 Askam, Kirkby-in-Furness, Foxfield, Green Road, Millom, Silecroft, Bootle, Ravenglass, Drigg, Seascale, Sellafield, St Bees, Corkickle, Whitehaven, Parton, Harrington, Workington, Flimby, Maryport, Aspatria, Wigton and Dalston
Some trains extend to/from Lancaster, see above
Oxenholme Lake District to Windermere 1 Kendal, Burneside and Staveley
some trains extend to/from Lancaster, Preston or Manchester Piccadilly
Route tph Calling at
Newcastle to Morpeth 1 Manors and Cramlington
Newcastle to Chathill - Manors, Cramlington, Morpeth, Pegswood, Widdrington, Acklington and Alnmouth

2 trains per day

Tyne Valley, Durham Coast and Esk Valley Lines
Route tph Calling at
Carlisle to Newcastle 1 Wetheral (1tp2h), Brampton (1tp2h), Haltwhistle, Bardon Mill (1tp2h), Haydon Bridge, Hexham, Prudhoe and MetroCentre
trains either serve Wetheral and Brampton, or Bardon Mill
Metrocentre to Newcastle 1 Dunston
Hexham to Nunthorpe 1 Corbridge, Riding Mill, Stocksfield, Prudhoe, Wylam, Blaydon, MetroCentre, Newcastle, Heworth, Sunderland, Seaham, Hartlepool, Seaton Carew, Billingham, Stockton, Thornaby, Middlesbrough, James Cook, Marton and Gypsy Lane
Some trains terminate at Middlesbrough, with Whitby services providing the hourly Middlesbrough-Nunthorpe service. Other trains extend to Battersby or Danby
Middlesbrough to Whitby James Cook, Marton, Gypsy Lane, Nunthorpe, Great Ayton, Battersby, Kildale, Commondale, Castleton Moor, Danby, Lealholm, Glaisdale, Egton, Grosmont, Sleights and Ruswarp
4 trains run each day, with an extra one in summer
Tees Valley Line
Route tph Calling at
Saltburn to Darlington (and Bishop Auckland) 2 Marske, Longbeck, Redcar East, Redcar Central, South Bank (1tph), Middlesbrough, Thornaby, Eaglescliffe, Allens West and Dinsdale. 1tph extends to Bishops Auckland, calling at North Road, Heighington, Newton Aycliffe and Shildon

Northern ConnectEdit

The logo for future Northern Connect express services

By December 2019, Northern plans to operate a network of twelve Northern Connect inter-urban express services – a franchise requirement. Most of these will be operated by brand-new Class 195 Civity diesel multiple units and Class 331 Civity electric multiple units, whilst the Middlesbrough to Carlisle via Newcastle route will be operated by refurbished Class 158 units. Electrification of the line between Oxenholme and Windermere was cancelled by the Government in 2017,[60] so the Manchester Airport to Windermere route will be operated initially by Class 769 Flex trains instead, with Class 195 Civity trains taking over by the end of 2019.[60]

Places that will be served by Northern Connect routes include Bradford, Chester, Halifax, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Newcastle, Preston, Sheffield, Barnsley, Lincoln, Wakefield, Wigan and York.

Northern Connect planned future routes and future rolling stock

Northern Connect
Colour Route [61] Via Rolling Stock
Services introduced in May 2019
Blackpool North to Manchester Airport Poulton-le-Fylde, Preston, Leyland, Buckshaw Parkway, Chorley, Horwich Parkway, Lostock (southbound) , Bolton, Salford Crescent, Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Mauldeth Road (irregular), Burnage (northbound), Gatley (northbound) and Heald Green
Peak and late evening services call additionally at Blackrod and usually Adlington.
Class 331
Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Airport Liverpool South Parkway, Warrington West (from July 2019), Warrington Central, Birchwood, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly and Mauldeth Road
Sunday services serve East Didsbury instead of Mauldeth Road.
Class 195
Barrow-in-Furness/Windermere to Manchester Airport Lancaster, Preston, Wigan North Western, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Burnage (southbound), East Didsbury (northbound), Gatley (southbound) and Heald Green
Some services run as two services- Manchester-Preston and Lancaster-Windermere/Barrow
Class 195
Leeds to Lincoln Wakefield Kirkgate, Barnsley, Meadowhall Interchange, Sheffield, Worksop, Retford, Gainsborough Lea Road and Saxilby Class 195
Blackpool North to York Poulton-le-Flyde, Preston, Blackburn, Accrington, Burnley Manchester Road, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Sowerby Bridge, Halifax, Bradford Interchange, New Pudsey, Leeds, Cross Gates, Garforth, East Garforth, Micklefield, Church Fenton and Ulleskelf Class 195
Chester to Leeds Helsby, Frodsham, Runcorn East,Warrington Bank Quay,Earlestown, Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria, Rochdale, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Sowerby Bridge, Halifax, Bradford Interchange, New Pudsey and Bramley Class 195
Services to be introduced in December 2019
Liverpool Lime Street to Leeds Manchester Victoria, Rochdale, Halifax and Bradford Interchange Class 195
Manchester Airport to Bradford Interchange Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria, Rochdale and Halifax Class 195
Carlisle to Middlesbrough Hexham, MetroCentre and Newcastle Class 158
Sheffield to Hull Doncaster Class 158 and Class 195[62]
Bradford Interchange to Nottingham Leeds, Wakefield Westgate, Sheffield and Chesterfield Class 158 and Class 195[62]

Rolling stockEdit

Northern inherited the rolling stock operated by Northern Rail, namely Class 142, 144, 150, 153, 155, 156 and 158 diesel multiple units and Class 319, 321, 322, 323 and 333 electric multiple units. To operate services transferred from the TransPennine Express franchise, four Class 185 units were sublet from that franchise to Northern, with this later reducing to two units. As of the May 2019 timetable change, these sublet units have since returned to TPE. To provide additional peak time capacity on the Calder Valley Line, one Class 180 unit is sublet from Grand Central to Northern per weekday.

Class 37/4 locomotives and Mark 2 carriages were hired from Direct Rail Services for Cumbrian Coast line services until December 2018.[52][63]

Current fleetEdit

Class Image Type Top speed Carriages Number Routes Built
mph km/h
Diesel multiple units
142 Pacer   DMU 75 121 2 79 Local and commuter services across the North 1985–87
144 Pacer   13 Local and commuter services in Yorkshire 1986–87
3 10
150/1 & 150/2 Sprinter   2 78 Local services across the North 1985–87
153 Super Sprinter   1 20 Local and commuter services across the North
Also used to boost capacity on peak time services
155 Super Sprinter   2 7
  • Manchester Victoria–Leeds
  • Local and commuter services across Yorkshire
156 Super Sprinter   47 Local, commuter and regional services across the North 1987–89
158/0 & 158/9
Express Sprinter
  90 140 45
  • Regional express and commuter services in West Yorkshire
  • Northern Connect services in the North East (from 2018)
  • Manchester Airport–Preston/Barrow-in-Furness
3 8
170/4 Turbostar   100 161 16
  • Leeds–York via Harrogate
  • Leeds–Doncaster/Selby
  • Sheffield-Hull/Bridlington
180 Adelante   125 201 5 1 Calder Valley Line peak time services[nb 3]
(One unit is subleased from Grand Central)[64]
Electric multiple units
319/3 & 319/4   EMU 100 161 4 27[nb 4] Electrified commuter services in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and from Blackpool 1987–90
321/9   100 161 4 3 Electrified commuter services in West Yorkshire 1991
322   5 Electrified commuter services in West Yorkshire 1990
323   90 140 3 17 Electrified commuter services in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Merseyside 1992–93
333   100 161 4 16 Electrified commuter services in West Yorkshire 2000

Future fleetEdit

Arriva Rail North Franchise Agreement Capacity Requirements[65]
City December 2017 Peak Capacity
(07:59–10:00, seats + standing)
December 2019 Peak Capacity
(07:59–10:00, seats + standing)
Leeds 26,034 35,000
Liverpool 7,819 9,500
Manchester 45,840 52,200
Newcastle 2,440 3,100
Sheffield 6,420 10,000

The withdrawal of Class 142 and 144 trains, known commonly as Pacers, was scheduled to commence in November 2018, with the last to be removed from traffic in October 2019.[66] Other trains due to leave Northern's fleet are the Class 153 diesel multiple unit and Class 321, Class 322 and Class 323 electric multiple units.

As part of the franchise agreement, there is a requirement to undertake refurbishment of all retained vehicles comprising diesel multiple units; Class 150 (162 veh), 155 (14 veh), 156 (94 veh), 158 (114 veh), 170 (48 veh) and electric multiple units; Class 319 (128 veh) and 333 (64). This includes new flooring and seat coverings, internal repaint, CCTV, Wi-Fi and provision of electric sockets. The 16 Class 333 units are also to have two vehicles per set modified to a “metro style” configuration to increase passenger carrying capacity per unit by at least 19%. Class 319 and 333 units are also to have pantograph monitoring equipment installed. [67]

Northern has ordered 101 brand new trains from Spanish rolling stock manufacturer CAF[68][69]. A total of 58 Class 195 diesel multiple units and 43 Class 331 electric multiple units are scheduled to enter service in July 2019.

A number of other trains are to be cascaded to Northern from other operators. A total of 49 diesel trains are due to join the fleet from Great Western Railway, ScotRail and West Midlands Trains between 2017 and 2019[70]. An additional eighteen two car diesel units, comparable to a Class 170, are due to join the fleet by December 2022.

In 2018, five Class 153 units transferred from GWR on a short term basis to provide extra capacity.

An additional twelve Class 319 units have transferred from Thameslink, although eight of these are due to be converted to Class 769 bi mode multiple units.

There is an option for further Class 195 and Class 331 carriages in the future.[71]

Class Image Type Top speed Carriages Number Routes Built In Service
mph km/h
Diesel multiple units
150/9 Sprinter   DMU 75 121 3 12[nb 5] Services including:
  • Huddersfield–Sheffield
  • Leeds–Goole[72]
1984–85[73] 2019
195/0 & 195/1 Civity   DMU 100 161 2 25 Northern Connect services 2017–19 July 2019
3 33
TBC[nb 6] DMU 100 161 2 18 Services to be confirmed TBC 2022[nb 7]
Electric multiple units
331/0 & 331/1 Civity   EMU 100 161 3 31 2017–19 2019
4 12
Bi-mode multiple units
769/4 Flex BMU TBC TBC 4 8
  • Wigan–Alderley Edge via Manchester Piccadilly
  • Wigan–Stalybridge via Manchester Victoria[74]
2017–19[nb 8] 2019[75]

Driver Controlled OperationEdit

The Department of Transport and Rail North have specified that the franchise must ensure that at least 50% of the aggregate Train Mileage of Passenger Services provided in each Reporting Period is operated as Driver Controlled Operation (DCO).[76]

DCO is defined as "operation of a train by a driver alone without the need for a conductor (or any other Franchise Employee)." The franchise further specifies that "Where ... a Passenger Service is operated as Driver Controlled Operation the Franchisee shall ... plan for an additional Franchise Employee (that is, in addition to the driver) to be present on such Passenger Service."[72]

The RMT Union are unhappy about this change, as roles currently undertaken by guards would instead be undertaken by drivers (such as releasing the doors once the train has stopped at a station). Although Northern have said they would be willing to guarantee that a second member of staff would be on board, the use of DCO could theoretically make it possible to run a train without a guard, and as a result, the union have called industrial action over the change.[76][77]

On 28 November 2018, it was announced that Transport for the North is against support for the removal of an additional franchise employee on Northern services, and urged the RMT Union to suspend the current strike action.[78][79] On 29 November, RMT announced that it had offered to suspend industrial action under the condition that trains will never run without a guard on the train,[80] however, on 30 November, the union confirmed that it will continue industrial action as planned.[81]

On 7 February 2019, the RMT announced that it had suspended further industrial action on Northern, bringing an end to consecutive strikes on Saturdays since 25 August 2018. [82]


Northern's fleet is maintained at Allerton, Botanic Gardens, Heaton, Newton Heath and Neville Hill depots.

In 2017, a new stabling depot opened at Blackburn King Street, with space for up to thirty diesel multiple units.[83]

A new depot will open in Wigan in December 2019, with space for 32 trains. The depot will be adapted from a freight yard at Springs Branch railway sidings in Ince-in-Makerfield and will cost £46 million.[84]

Northern 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 (guards), Newcastle, Sheffield, Skipton, Wigan Wallgate, Workington and York.


  1. ^ One unit is leased from Grand Central
  2. ^ The three services which transferred to the new Northern franchise in April 2016 are Manchester Airport to Blackpool North, Manchester Airport to Barrow-in-Furness and the Oxenholme to Windermere shuttle
  3. ^ One morning peak time service from Hebden Bridge to Leeds, and one return trip in the evening peak, from Monday to Friday
  4. ^ The eight Class 319/4 units are to be converted to Class 769 bi-mode units
  5. ^ Eighteen units are to be converted into twelve three car Class 150/9 units
  6. ^ These must be DMUs which are at least an equivalent in performance and quality to 2-car Class 170 units
  7. ^ These units must be in service no later than December 2022.
  8. ^ Class 319/4 units were initially built between 1987 and 1988


  1. ^ "Northern Rail Network". Northern. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Arriva UK Trains". Arriva UK. Retrieved 5 May 2019. Arriva operates the Northern franchise, the second largest rail franchise in the UK, and runs regional and commuter services across the region
  3. ^ "We are modernising". Arriva Rail North. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Most overcrowded services revealed as passenger numbers plummet". Rail Technology Magazine. 24 July 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2018. Users of rail networks in several major cities across England have fallen. Passengers of services to Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Cardiff have suffered the largest decline, with many citing chaotic delays and cancellations as a number of reasons for no longer frequently using rail network.
  5. ^ Topham, Gwyn (6 December 2018). "Train performance this summer the worst for 20 years, figures show". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 December 2018. Northern’s punctuality and reliability hit an all-time low for the July–September period, according to industry regulator the Office of Rail and Road
  6. ^ "Complaints about complaints: train passengers fed up with how they're treated". Which?. 14 November 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2018. Northern had the lowest satisfaction rate for politeness out of all train companies in the survey; in fact, it came last or in the bottom three of the 18 train companies in every aspect of the complaints process that passengers were asked about.
  7. ^ "Further disruption on Northern Rail as union members begin 38th day of strike action". ITV News. 1 December 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  8. ^ Williams, Jennifer (12 May 2019). "'An absolute clownshow': Northern rail services one year after the meltdown". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 12 May 2019. “If I want to be in town for 9am, I leave at 7am, because I cannot squeeze myself onto the last rush hour trains. Then there are no trains between 8.24am and 9.24am.”
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External linksEdit

  Media related to Arriva Rail North at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Northern Rail (Serco-Abellio)
Northern franchise
Operator of Northern franchise
Succeeded by