TRANSPORT secretary Grant Shapps has said he plans to strip Northern of its rail franchise.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast this morning, Thursday, Mr Shapps said he ‘simply will not put up with’ the troubled service and has ‘already kicked off that process’ to remove the franchise.

Northern’s deal was due to run until April 2025, but has been widely criticised amid timetable chaos over the past two years.

The firm runs trains in and out of Warrington Central, Warrington West, Birchwood and Padgate.

Today, it was announced that fares would rise for commuters by an average of 2.7 per cent.

Mr Shapps said: “I do not think that the service being run by Northern is anywhere near acceptable.

“I am simply not prepared for the service on Northern to carry on as it is and I am taking action.”

Mr Shapps, who also criticised Trans Pennine Express’s recent performance, said he had written to the relevant parties in the autumn outlining his intentions to make changes.

Politicians across the north west including metro mayors Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham have called for Northern to be stripped of the franchise.

A review by Keith Williams, commissioned by the government, is set to be published soon.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Grant Shapps is big on talk about Northern Rail this morning but short on detail and this has all the hallmarks of a dead cat being ‎slung on the table to distract from the fare rise scandal.

“If Grant Shapps was serious he would set out a timetable for removing the Northern Rail franchise from Arriva and their replacement with the public sector operator. I am seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Shapps to pin down the detail and how it affects RMT‎ members and the services they provide.”

Labour’s Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols has responded to the news.

She said: “This decision is long overdue, but very welcome news.

"With rail fares having increased again yesterday, I hope this will be the last time people in the North West will be expected to keep paying more for a service that keeps getting worse.

"Northern Rail’s record is abysmal – expensive, unreliable and overcrowded services – and people in Warrington deserve better.

“This latest decision just goes to show that the franchise model adopted when the railway was privatised has been a total failure.

“There’s no incentive for companies to invest beyond the end of their franchise period, which is why we have Northern trains so outdated that some of them are actually in museums, and commuters totally beset by delays – causing people to be disciplined in work and missing valuable time with their families. 

“For the Northern Rail staff, I hope the Government will work with the relevant trade unions and local MPs to ensure they are redeployed – the hard-working front line staff doing their best shouldn’t be punished for failures of Northern Rail management, or the failure of the Government to get a handle on the crisis quickly enough.

“If we want to be serious about rebalancing our economy towards regions like the North West and tackling the climate emergency, we must also be serious about investing in and improving our public transport.

“Just giving the franchise over to a new operator won’t fix all of the problems that have beset the service – this must be the first step in a radical overhaul of rail in our region.”