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Keep Northern Rail publicly owned, campaigners urge

CAMPAIGNERS are staging protests at train stations demanding ministers keep Northern Rail under public control.

Passengers were due to join union officials and politicians across the north today to send a ‘clear message’ that the ‘broken’ private franchise model should be replaced by a publicly owned railway.

It comes after Arriva Rail North was stripped of its operator status yesterday after years of punctuality and reliability problems.

The RMT union said its return to public ownership — joining the East Coast Main Line — ‘should not be seen as a short-term fix’.

‘This has to be a permanent move followed up with the investment and planning needed to deliver the rail services that passengers deserve after years of privatised chaos,’ said RMT general secretary Mick Cash. The union added it believed the Williams Review into the railways could return Northern to the private sector within weeks.

Ellen Lees, of campaign group We Own It, said: ‘The calamity of Northern Rail is all the evidence you need to see just how disastrous privatisation has been on our railway. It’s vital that Northern stays public to avoid causing further disruption to passengers.’

A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘This franchise underlines how the model needs to change, which is why the Williams Review is looking at reforms across the railway to ensure passengers are put first.’