Northern Rail unveils shake-up of its divisions

Rail operator Northern has announced a restructure to create four new business regions, which it claims will play a key role in transforming rail travel throughout the North.

Northern Rail services.

A regional centre will be created in Leeds alongside others in Manchester, Preston and Newcastle, in which regional directors will lead the delivery of wide ranging changes announced on Arriva’s launch of the new Northern franchise in April.

It will go live on July 1.

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Its Leeds-based East division will be its biggest and incorporate an area that is bordered by Hull, Nottingham, Todmorden and Armathwaite. This region will be headed up by Paul Barnfield.

Its Central division, led by Liam Sumpter and based in Manchester, stretches as far North as Clitheroe and Colne, down to Crewe, Stoke on Trent and Buxton.

North-East will be managed by Mike Paterson from Newcastle and is to cover an area from Carlisle to Whitby, to Chathill and Teesside Airport.

Finally West covers Northern’s services from Ellesmere Port, through to Liverpool, Blackpool and the Cumbrian coast. Sharon Keith will be the regional director, working from a new base in Preston.

Alex Hynes, managing director said: “Regions are at the heart of our new franchise.

“They will enable the transformation of Northern, bringing our people and service delivery closer to the communities and customers we serve.”

“From July a new team of regional directors will be based in four regional centres.

“They will utilise our extensive knowledge of local customer needs and transport opportunities to build railway services that meet the needs of their region.”

Mr Barnfield said: “The transformation we will deliver at Northern during this franchise is a once in a generation opportunity. I can’t wait to bring the benefits of that change to our customers in our east region.”

Northern operates as one of the largest transport networks in the UK, with more than 16,000 weekly train services serving a population of 15 million people.

Over the next four years customers will benefit from a £1 billion pound investment that will see the rollout of 281 brand-new carriages, a 37 per cent increase in peak time capacity and revamped ticketing.

Arriva Rail was awarded the Northern franchise in December, covering the majority of local services while FirstGroup will run Transpennine Express services connecting Yorkshire to the North-West and Newcastle.

The £1.2 billion deal will see the company massively overhauling its operations to modernise and upgrade its services.

Among the plans are 500 new carriages and the phasing out of the much-maligned Pacer trains - branded “buses on rails” by commuters. New 125 mph services on some transpennine routes will also speed up services when implemented, bosses have claimed.

Liam Sumpter, regional director for the Central division said: “Northern’s central team will enable transformational change to railway services in the North. It’s such an exciting time for the whole region, we cannot fail to be inspired. I am delighted to be part of that.”

Northern Rail operates across more than 450 stations and calls at more than 500.