The papers: ITV anchor quits and HS2 'to get green light'



Newspaper headlines: ITV anchor quits and HS2 ‘to get green light’

By BBC News
Staff

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The reason for newsreader Alastair Stewart stepping down from his ITV role is the focus for many of Thursday’s tabloids. The Daily Mail reports the long-serving anchor was forced out after he called a black Twitter user an “angry ape”. The paper says Stewart posted the words when citing a passage from William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.

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The Daily Star leads on the same story. The paper’s headline calls Stewart an “ITV legend”.

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Chancellor Sajid Javid will back the HS2 project “no matter the cost”, the Daily Telegraph reports. His support will mean the rail project “will need only to be rubber-stamped” following a meeting despite at No 10 later, the paper says. A leaked review suggested the cost of the project could rise to £106bn.

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The chancellor decided to back HS2 because alternative infrastructure schemes do “not stack up”, the Financial Times reports. His “decisive intervention” will make it “almost certain” the rail project goes ahead, the FT says. The paper adds that a decision could be made “within days”.

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HS2 could get clearance before Friday, according to government sources quoted in the Daily Express. The paper’s front page also features TV presenter Fern Britton and her husband Phil, after the couple confirmed on Twitter that they are to “go our separate ways” after 20 years of marriage.

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The Guardian says a “secure NHS facility” will be used to quarantine any UK citizens airlifted home, following the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus. The paper says “about 200 Britons in the vicinity of Wuhan” – where the virus is thought to have originated – are preparing to fly back to Britain.

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The Metro focuses on cuts at BBC News. “Beeb’s brutal cull”, is the front page headline, with the corporation’s staff having told the paper that “journalism would suffer” as a result of plans to make 450 job cuts.

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The Daily Mail follows up on claims that Lord Lucan has been found living in Australia. The Metropolitan Police have asked Neil Berriman – who made the claim – to pass on any evidence he has collected in his four year search to find the peer, who is suspected of murdering Mr Berriman’s mother in 1976.

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The i leads on the government’s decision to nationalise rail firm Northern. Great Western and South Eastern franchises could be next, the paper says.

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And the Sun reports on an alleged row between This Morning presenters Eamonn Holmes and Phillip Schofield at the National Television Awards.

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Coronavirus: Britons will not fly home from Wuhan on Thursday


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EPA

A planned flight to bring 200 British nationals back to the UK from coronavirus-hit Wuhan is unable to take off as planned on Thursday.It is understood relevant permissions from Chinese officials have not yet come through. The Foreign Office said it was “working urgently” to organise a flight to the UK “as soon as possible”. The virus has caused more than 130 deaths, spreading across China and to at least 16 other countries.The flight from Wuhan, the city where the virus first emerged, had been expected to arrive at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on Thursday morning. Passengers were to be taken to an NHS facility. When the passengers do return they will be put in “supported isolation” for 14 days with “all necessary medical attention”, a Downing Street spokesman said.The Foreign Office said a number of countries’ flights had been unable to take off as planned.”We remain in close contact with the Chinese authorities and conversations are ongoing at all levels,” the spokeswoman added. Hundreds of foreign nationals are being evacuated from Wuhan, with Japan, the US and the EU among those repatriating their citizens.Some 200 Japanese nationals have been flown from Wuhan and have landed at Tokyo’s Haneda airport.Roughly 200 Americans – including workers from the local US consulate – have also left Wuhan on an evacuation flight.



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Man City into EFL Cup final despite second-leg defeat by Man Utd




Nemanja Matic scored the only goal of the game before being sent off for a second bookable offenceHolders Manchester City will face Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup final, advancing 3-2 on aggregate despite losing a tense second leg to neighbours Manchester United.Leading 3-1 from the first leg at Old Trafford, City pushed forward in search of a goal to put the tie to bed but could find no way past an inspired David de Gea.Instead, United put things back in the balance before half-time when Nemanja Matic put them ahead on the night with their first effort at goal.United had created nothing in open play but City could only half-clear Fred’s free-kick and Matic swept a powerful first-time strike past Claudio Bravo.De Gea, who had brilliantly denied Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez in the opening minutes, was finally beaten when Raheem Sterling turned in Kevin de Bruyne’s cross, but the flag was already up for offside.The scoreline made for an anxious atmosphere at Etihad Stadium at the break and more United chances followed in the second half, with Harry Maguire heading over and Anthony Martial bringing a low save from Bravo.Sterling, still without a goal in 2020, had a chance to settle his side’s nerves and restore their two-goal cushion when he ran clear but dallied and eventually skied his shot.More wastefulness from the home side followed, notably when the ball broke to substitute David Silva in front of goal but he chose to square to Ilkay Gundogan rather than shoot.It was only when Matic was sent off for his second booking with 14 minutes remaining that City regained any sort of control of the game, and they were able to see out the remainder without any further scares to ensure their progress. Pep Guardiola’s side are into the final for a third successive year and will go for their seventh EFL Cup win when they face Villa in the final at Wembley on 1 March. Only Liverpool, who have won it eight times, have a better record in the competition.Plenty of positives for Man UtdUnited kept the tie alive until the very end, when Fred fired a free-kick into the City wall from a dangerous position, but still had the consolation of being able to claim their second win at Etihad Stadium this season.Their performance on this occasion did not repeat the attacking verve of their Premier League victory here before Christmas, when they repeatedly ripped apart City’s defence on the counter-attack, but there were still plenty of positives for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, other than the result on the night.The imminent arrival of Bruno Fernandes will bolster Solskjaer’s midfield options but, before his red card, Matic showed he still has plenty to offer in that department.As well as his fine finish, the Serb made several timely interceptions and, along with Fred, helped United stem the tide after City’s fast start.De Gea, too, has received plenty of criticism lately – so deserves to take credit here for helping United become only the second side to stop City scoring at Etihad Stadium this season.His instinctive stop from Aguero’s header was his best save of the night, but he was equal to whatever City could throw at him.Man of the match – David de Gea (Manchester United)
There have been calls from some quarters for Sergio Romero to replace him as Manchester United’s number one, but De Gea repeatedly showed his class hereWhat next?Both sides return to Premier League matters at the weekend, with United hosting Wolves on Saturday (17:30 GMT kick-off) and City away at Tottenham on Sunday (16:30).



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Norton Motorcycles goes into administration


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Norton bikes are used in the Isle of Man TT to this day

The famous British motorbike company Norton Motorcycles has gone into administration. The Leicestershire firm was reportedly struggling to pay a tax bill and faced a winding-up order from HMRC.Founded in 1898, Norton is one of the last remaining British motorcycle brands and best known for its involvement in motorsport. The administration puts about 100 jobs at its Castle Donington factory in question. Lee Causer, of administrators BDO, said: “We are taking all necessary steps to ensure that customers, staff and suppliers are supported through the administration process. “Our job is to determine and execute the most appropriate strategy as swiftly as possible to protect creditors’ interests, bearing in mind the need to minimise distress for all parties.”

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Getty Images

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A 1962 Norton 650 SS

Founded in Birmingham, Norton began making motorbikes in 1902 and soon became associated with races such as the Isle of Man TT.Among its most famous models are the Dominator and the Commando, while its Norton Interpol was used by UK police in the 1980s. Vintage models are now considered collectors’ items. Its bikes have also featured in hit films such as the James Bond movie Spectre and the Che Guevara memoir, The Motorcycle Diaries. Norton fell into financial difficulties in 2008 but was rescued by entrepreneur and property developer Stuart Garner who revived the business. Mr Garner said last May that the firm was performing strongly and planned to open a new factory. However, this January he told local newspaper Birmingham Live that Norton owed HMRC £300,000 and could be wound up if it was not given more time to pay. Two other of Mr Garner’s companies are also in administration, including his 42-bedroom Priest House Hotel in Castle Donington.



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Coronavirus: British mum told to leave young son behind in Wuhan


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Natalie Francis works as a teacher in Wuhan

A British woman due to be flown out of Wuhan amid the coronavirus outbreak was told to leave behind her three-year-old son because he has a Chinese passport.Up to 200 UK citizens will be flown out of China on Thursday and put into quarantine for two weeks in the UK.Natalie Francis, originally from York, said: “I literally had no words when I got the call.”The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said its priority was to keep British nationals and their families together.”All three of us are in Wuhan at the moment. Physically we are fine, but the stress of being locked up for so long… the emotional health is starting to suffer a little bit,” she said, “especially after this news.””It’s rare you ever feel genuinely helpless, where there is nothing you can do, nothing you can say. It was really upsetting.”

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AFP

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The virus has caused more than 130 deaths, spreading across China and to at least 16 other countries

Ms Francis, who works as a teacher in Wuhan, said at the start of the outbreak she her husband and their son Jamie had no plans to leave.However, over the past few days, she said “we started to panic” after reports younger children were being affected, especially as their son had pneumonia last year.”My husband said if you get the chance, take Jamie and go home.””I don’t know who can sort this out, [but] please don’t forget us,” she added. A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said: “The safety of British nationals is our top priority and we have been in close contact with British nationals and their family members who might need help. “Our priority is to keep British nationals and their family members together and [we] have urgently raised this with the Chinese authorities.”

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ITN's Alastair Stewart steps down after social media 'errors of judgement'


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ITV News presenter Alastair Stewart is stepping down from his role following what ITN called “errors of judgment in Alastair’s use of social media”.In a statement, the veteran broadcaster, 67, said: “It was a misjudgement which I regret.”ITN said he had breached editorial guidelines, but did not elaborate on the reasons for his departure.He added: “It’s been a privilege to bring the news to households throughout the UK for the past 40 years.”Stewart joined ITV in 1980 and began fronting News at Ten nine years later. The newsreader’s Twitter account has now been deactivated.ITV presenter Julie Etchingham wrote on Twitter: “So sad to learn this – we have worked on many big stories together & Al is a trusted friend and guide to many of us.”Fellow newsreader Mary Nightingale added that she was “very sad” about his departure.Michael Jermey, ITV director of news and current affairs, said in a statement: “Alastair has been a long-standing, familiar figure to viewers of ITV News, both reporting and presenting with distinction. We wish him the very best for the future.”ITN’s chief executive Anna Mallett added: “We would like to recognise Alastair’s contribution as one of the UK’s foremost journalists and TV presenters and to thank him for his commitment to delivering high-quality broadcast news over many years.”

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Stewart moderated the UK’s first televised general election leaders’ debate in 2010

During his career, Stewart has also hosted ITV’s lunchtime and early evening news, as well as Channel 4 News and Police, Camera, Action!He was named presenter of the year by the Royal Television Society Award in 2005, and was awarded an OBE the following year.In 2010, he moderated the UK’s first ever televised general election leaders’ debate between David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg.

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Brexit: MEPs say goodbye to UK ahead of Brexit vote


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Media captionWatch live coverage of the European Parliament Brexit debate
Members of the European Parliament are bidding farewell to UK colleagues ahead of a final vote on the Brexit deal. The withdrawal agreement is expected to be signed off in Brussels later.Some MEPs have marked the occasion with songs – others wore “always united” scarves. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told the UK: “We will always love you.”But Eurosceptics, including the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage, used their speeches to tear into the EU.The UK is due to leave the bloc at 23:00 GMT on Friday.Ratification of the withdrawal agreement, agreed by the UK and EU in October, is not in doubt after it easily cleared its committee stage last week. Departing British members are expected to be serenaded by their colleagues in a special ceremony after the vote, which is due at 17.00 GMT. The session sees those on either side of the Brexit debate, including the UK’s 73 MEPs, celebrate or lament the end of British EU membership.The Parliament’s Brexit spokesman, Guy Verhofstadt, said it was “sad to see a country leaving that has twice given its blood to liberate Europe”.He added that British MEPs had brought “wit, charm, and intelligence” as well as “stubbornness”, and would be missed. Mrs von der Leyen says ratification of the withdrawal deal was “only a first step” towards a new partnership between the EU and the UK.She says the two should “join forces” in areas such as climate change, and seek a close partnership following the UK’s exit on Friday.The EU president finished her speech by saying: “We will always love you, and we will not be far. Long live Europe.”Farage walk-outConservative MEP and prominent Eurosceptic Daniel Hannan said opinion in Britain turned against the bloc when it became clear “the aspiration was to have the EU as a quasi-state”.”If at any stage Britain had been able to have a trade-only relationship that would have been enough,” he went on, but added: “You are losing a bad tenant and gaining a good neighbour.”Mr Farage used his final speech to excoriate the EU, branding it “anti-democratic”.He has been campaigning for the UK’s exit since before he was first elected to the Brussels Parliament in 1999.”I want Brexit to start a debate right across Europe – what do we want from Europe?” Mr Farage said, arguing that “trade, friendship, co-operation and reciprocity” between nations could be achieved without “all of these institutions and all of this power”. He and his fellow Brexit Party MEPs waved Union flags before walking out of the chamber en masse.

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AFP

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The S&D coalition in the European Parliament put up a sign aimed at departing British MEPs – “au revoir” literally meaning “goodbye until we meet again”

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AFP

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Some MEPs wore “half-and-half scarves” to mark the UK’s final day

Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts said the EU must learn lessons from the UK’s decision to leave.He said the bloc had to “regain the hearts and minds of European citizens” by focusing on what it could do for the many, not the few.Earlier, the S&D coalition, which houses Labour’s 10 MEPs, displayed a sign aimed at departing British members, which read: “It’s not goodbye, it’s au revoir.”European Parliament President David Sassoli, also a member of the group, joined the group in a rendition of Auld Lang Syne.On Tuesday evening, several MEPs in the Green group also held a ceremony to mark the UK’s departure.

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Media captionNigel Farage: UK “too big to bully”
While Brexit Party MEPs spoke of their joy and relief at leaving, others shared messages of sadness on social media as they prepared to vote for the last time.Liberal Democrats shared pictures of gifts from the pro-European Renew Europe group.

The Green Party’s Alexandra Phillips tweeted: “I’m devastated to be leaving the best job in the world. I get to make real change every day while being surrounded by 27 different languages and cultures.”

The EU’s negotiators have kept the European Parliament on board throughout the Brexit process. Its main committees have given their approval. So it’s inevitable that the deal will be endorsed. Instead of a moment of jeopardy, this is likely to be the highest profile event in the EU’s distinctly low-key goodbye to the UK. Expect speeches that praise EU unity and describe the UK’s departure as a regrettable mistake. A German MEP is planning a sing-a-long to Auld Lang Syne. The SNP group have arranged for a piper to play them out of the building. In the meantime, the 73 British members are packing their belongings into their regulation-issue 15 cardboard boxes. The main send-off will happen on Friday, when the president of the European Parliament will deliver a joint statement alongside the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission. The British flag that flutters outside the parliamentary premises will be lowered in the early hours of Saturday morning, before it’s displayed in a museum.

After the UK leaves, there will be an 11-month transition period in which the two sides hope to negotiate their future economic relationship.Trade talks are expected to begin in earnest in early March. The European Parliament will also get a say in ratifying any future trade deal. The UK has insisted talks should not extend beyond 31 December 2020 when a transition period – which will see the UK follow EU rules – comes to an end.President Sassoli told CNN on Tuesday that the timetable for a deal was tight. He said the UK’s exit would be “painful” for the bloc but building a new partnership based upon friendly co-operation and mutual interests was now essential.



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BBC News to close 450 posts as part of £80m savings drive


Around 450 jobs will be cut from BBC News under plans to complete its £80m savings target by 2022.Outlets to be hit by job closures include BBC Two’s Newsnight, BBC Radio 5 Live and the World Update programme on the World Service.BBC News boss Fran Unsworth said there had to be a move away from traditional broadcasting and towards digital.But broadcasting union Bectu said the changes would mean staff will be “under even more pressure to deliver”.The job cuts announced on Wednesday include the previously announced closure of BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.BBC News currently employs around 6,000 people, including 1,700 outside the UK. Its budget after the changes will be around £480m per year.Unsworth, who is director of BBC News, said: “The BBC has to face up to the changing way audiences are using us.”We need to reshape BBC News for the next five to 10 years in a way which saves substantial amounts of money. We are spending too much of our resources on traditional linear broadcasting and not enough on digital.”

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The BBC newsroom in New Broadcasting House, London

What will be cut?The corporation announced in 2016 that it needed to save £800m, with around £80m of that figure coming from News.Just over £40m – around half – of the savings required in BBC News have already been found over the past four years.The remaining savings will be found in large part by restructuring the newsroom to adopt a “story-led” model, which will see planned stories each rolled out across a greater number of programmes and outlets. The BBC said this would avoid the duplication that occurs from several programmes putting resources into the same news stories.However, the changes mean there will be a reduction in the overall number of stories covered, and Newsnight will produce fewer films.Unsworth said there would be a review of the number of presenters BBC News has and how they work.While Victoria Derbyshire and World Update will be closed, Unsworth said there are unlikely to be any further closures of entire programmes or services.The savings are expected to result in post closures across BBC News as the planning and commissioning of stories is centralised.The BBC News website will be largely, although not entirely, protected, as the corporation prepares to invest further in digital, including the launch of a new version of the BBC News app.The 450 job cuts include around 50 post closures at the World Service that were announced at the end of 2019.

The BBC announced in 2016 it needed to save £800m by 2020; BBC News was to provide £80m of those savings, and it is only half way.The BBC is struggling to connect with many British people – especially those from poorer socio-economic backgrounds, and – even more so – those under 35.The licence fee, which accounts for around 75% of the BBC’s revenue, is under unprecedented political and structural pressure.These three facts have driven the changes announced today. The first made pain inevitable; the second has determined the nature of the cuts announced; the third means the audience the BBC has in mind when making these changes isn’t just licence fee payers – it’s the inhabitants of 10 Downing Street.

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JEFF OVERS

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The Victoria Derbyshire programme is to end as part of the savings

Writing on Twitter after the latest announcement, Victoria Derbyshire took issue with the reasons behind the decision to close her programme.”We were NEVER asked to grow the linear TV audience. Ever,” she tweeted in response to a journalist who suggested the viewing figures for her programme were low.”We were asked to grow our digital audience – we did,” she said.Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, responded to the announcement by saying: “These damaging cuts are part of an existential threat to the BBC, and a direct consequence of the last disastrous, secret licence fee deal the BBC agreed with the government.”Bectu national secretary Noel McClean said: “The unprecedented constraints faced by the BBC will leave our members under even more pressure to deliver the output and service that has made this essential public service the envy of the international broadcasting community and risks its future viability.”Damian Collins MP, who is standing for re-election as chair of the House of Commons culture select committee, said there would be “concerns” about the plans. “They should explain how it’ll impact the BBC’s ability to reach people,” he wrote on Twitter.Meanwhile, the BBC has suspended the closure of its Red Button text service after protests, a day before it was due to have started being phased out.On Monday, a petition calling for it to be saved, organised by the National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK), was handed in to the BBC and Downing Street.

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Northern: Rail firm brought under government control


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Media captionOvercrowding on trains has been one of many issues facing Northern passengers
Troubled rail company Northern is to be brought under government control.The decision, which will see the firm’s franchise stripped from operator Arriva Rail North from 1 March, was taken following years of major disruption.Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said passengers had “lost trust in the north’s rail network”.Arriva said it “understood the government’s decision”, but problems had been largely due to “external factors” such as rail infrastructure.Mr Shapps said: “People across the north deserve better, their communities deserve better and I am determined to achieve that.”The move means services will be operated by an arms-length public company reporting directly to the government and staffed by experienced train managers.’Systemic failures’Northern passengers have faced rail chaos ever since new timetables were introduced in May 2018, and punctuality and reliability problems have continued to blight the network.

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Northern has come under fire for aging trains and chaotic timetables

Mick Whelan, general secretary of train drivers’ union ASLEF, welcomed the move.But he warned: “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.”German-based Arriva had been due to run Northern until March 2025.But Mr Shapps revealed in October he had requested a proposal from Northern to outline its plans to improve services.

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Stephen Pimlott

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Frustrated rail users let their feelings be known at Manchester Piccadilly in 2018

The Department for Transport was then due to consider whether to hand a new, short-term contract to Arriva, or to nationalise services by putting the government-controlled Operator of Last Resort in charge.The government previously described the delays and cancellations as “unacceptable”.What went wrong at Northern?

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PA Media

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Northern passengers have faced two years of rail chaos ever since new timetables were introduced

The company has faced a range of problems in recent years, such as widespread cancellations and delays following the introduction of new timetables. Recent figures from Office of Rail and Road revealed how just 56% of Northern trains arrived at stations within a minute of the stated time on the timetable in the 12 months to 7 December.That compares to an average across Britain of 65%.The franchise has also faced challenges due to infrastructure projects, strike action and an ageing fleet of trains.

This is an uncomfortable moment for the government. In the end, nationalising this vast commuter network was its only option. An agreement to change Arriva’s contract (Northern’s parent company) and keep the firm on board wasn’t possible because a commercially, and politically, palatable deal couldn’t be found. Contingency planning for the so-called Operator of Last Resort to step in has been under way for months. If that work has been done well, it should be a seamless change and passengers should barely notice. What the government wants on Northern is a new performance-related train contract.This type of contract already exists on Merseyrail and the London Overground. These two companies do well in terms of passenger satisfaction. These contracts put less risk on the train company but offer it no financial reward if passenger numbers rise. As one rail boss described it, this type of system will be very similar to a nationalised railway, but private companies will still have a role to play. Northern’s failure is in large part down to ancient infrastructure which struggles to cope with the high volume of trains and passengers at peak times. Put simply, there is no silver bullet for improving our railways. If you have a question about Northern, the service or the franchise let us know by completing the form below.In some cases your question will be published, displaying your name, age and location as you provide it, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

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