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

Speaking to the BBC 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.

Locally, promises for new trains and a second hourly service on the Mid Cheshire Line have not come to fruition.

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.

Northwich MP Mike Amesbury recently backed metro mayors Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham’s calls for Northern to be stripped of the franchise.

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

David Brown, managing director at Northern, said: “It’s on record that the Northern franchise has faced several material and unprecedented challenges in the past couple of years, outside the direct control of Northern.

"The most significant of these is the ongoing, late delivery of major infrastructure upgrades.

“The north west electrification was more than two years late, which meant we could not use electric trains on that route or cascade diesel trains from that route to run more services elsewhere on our network.

"More recently, new and longer platforms at Leeds stations are delayed, which means we have had to postpone our plans to run longer trains.

“These factors – alongside the damage caused by strike action and lower than expected economic growth – have had a significant effect on the revenue expected in our original franchise business plan agreed with government back in 2015.

“That’s why the Government has asked us to prepare a business plan for a shorter ‘Direct Award’ which will see the completion of our transformation programme.

“Arriva and Northern remain fully committed to delivering the transformation of the North’s railways and improving customers’ experience.

"We are delivering the biggest transformation of local rail for a generation, with 52 of our 101 new trains in service and driver training taking place on dozens more trains right now.

"Alongside 2,000 extra services per week, this is part of a £600 million investment in improving customers’ experience. We are continuing to invest in better stations, better offers forcustomers and more recruitment.

“These discussions have no impact on rail services for customers. Our job is to continue to provide the best service possible for our customers whilst any discussions are taking place.”