Prime minister tells borough MP contingency plans being drawn up to replace train operator Northern

The prime minister has told an MP from the borough that contingency plans are being put in place to remove Northern as a train operator.


Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue raised the misery that has been faced by commuters in the region during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons.

Yvonne Fovargue MP

Yvonne Fovargue MP

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She also enquired if it would be possible for transport decisions to be devolved to the areas affected.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said Northern being removed was something that is being worked on.

Ms Fovargue said: "Finally, it appears some action is being taken against Northern.

"Will the prime minister commit to stripping them of their franchise and devolving the power and the money to the regions so that local people have the power over their local transport and never have to suffer the appalling catalogue of delays, overcrowding, cancellations and disruption that have gone on far too long?"

Mr Johnson replied: "I share her outrage and understand what she is saying. We are developing contingency plans for a replacement for Northern.

"What we are also doing, and she raises the point, is looking at the whole way the franchising system operates."

Mr Johnson referred Ms Fovargue to Keith Williams' root-and-branch review of the railways, which he described as "very valuable".

However, the response failed to impress Makerfield's parliamentary representative.

Ms Fovargue said afterwards: "“Too little, too late just about sums up this Government’s approach to transport in the North.

"Government should have intervened much sooner by stripping Northern of its franchise. Endless reviews and prevarication mean rail passengers continue to suffer a shocking service with delays, cancellations and old rolling stock.

"It’s not good enough and the Government have failed rail passengers in Wigan and Greater Manchester.”

Northern bosses, meanwhile, faced a grilling from furious elected mayors and council leaders at the Rail North Committee on Wednesday.

The firm had to admit its plans for train services were "undeliverable" and was told it was at "one minute to midnight", amid mounting anger over its poor performance at the end of last year.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said transport secretary Grant Shapps had to act immediately to get control of the problems.

He said: "2018 and 2019 were two terrible years on our railways, we can't let 2020 drift into a similar situation. It has to be gripped."