Northern Trains.svg
195001 of Northern Trains at Lime Street.jpg
Class 195 in May 2021 in Northern Trains livery at Liverpool Lime Street
1 March 2020–
Main region(s)
Other region(s)
Parent companyDfT OLR Holdings
Reporting markNT[1]
PredecessorArriva Rail North
Other Edit this at Wikidata

Northern Trains, branded as Northern, (legally Northern Trains Limited[3]) is a publicly owned train operating company in England. It is owned by DfT OLR Holdings for the Department for Transport, after the previous operator Arriva Rail North had its franchise terminated at the end of February 2020.

Northern Trains commenced operating the Northern franchise on 1 March 2020, taking over from Arriva Rail North. The prior operator had its franchise terminated early by the Department for Transport (DfT) in January 2020 amid widespread dissatisfaction over its performance, particularly in respect to poorly-implemented timetable changes. The DfT had opted to hand the operation of the franchise over to the operator of last resort. At the commencement of operations, Northern Trains publicly stated that its immediate aims were to improve service reliability and to proceed with the introduction of new rolling stock. For the latter, both the Class 195 diesel multiple units and Class 331 electric multiple units were brought into service fully during December 2020.

Services have been disrupted by wider events, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic. Northern Trains was also amongst those train operators impacted by the 2022 United Kingdom railway strike, the largest national rail strike in the UK in three decades.



In December 2015, the Department for Transport (DfT) awarded Arriva a contract to operate the Northern franchise. It commenced in April 2016 and was originally scheduled to run until March 2025.[4][5] Within two years, the franchise was being widely criticised, in particular for troubled implementation of a new timetable in May 2018 that resulted in widespread delays and cancellations.[6][7] Performance later in 2018 continued to be poor, with many passengers protesting and a reduced service on Saturdays due to industrial action.[8][9][10][11] By November 2018, Arriva were re-evaluating their future involvement in the franchise due to a combination of declining passenger numbers as a result of the chaotic May 2018 timetable change and increasing compensation claims as a result of falling punctuality.[12]

In June 2019, the operator of last resort, managed by the DfT, conducted due diligence into the franchise believing the both operational and financial performance to be "unsustainable".[13] In October 2019, the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, issued a request for proposals to incumbent operator Arriva and the operator of last resort, which would result in termination of the franchise with either Arriva to be awarded a short-term management contract or the operator of last resort to take over.[14] In January 2020, Shapps publicly criticised Arriva's operation of the Northern franchise and suggested that the Government may step in to revoke its franchise agreement, bluntly referring to the service as "completely unacceptable".[15]

On 29 January 2020, the DfT announced its decision to terminate Arriva Northern's franchise and that the operator of last resort would take over.[16][17][18] This was the first time that a franchise has been removed from a train operating company due to poor performance since Connex South Eastern in 2003. On 1 March 2020, the franchise became directly operated by the DfT, adopting the brand name 'Northern Trains, with the stated objective to "stabilise performance and restore reliability for passengers".[19][20]

Changes and events

By mid-2020, Northern Trains had considerably curtailed its services in response to the significant decline of passenger travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.[21][22] From 15 June 2020, both passengers and staff on public transport in England, including Northern Trains services, were required to wear face coverings while travelling, and that anyone failing to do so would be liable to be refused travel or fined.[23][24]

Northern Trains was one of several train operators impacted by the 2022 United Kingdom railway strike, which was the first national rail strike in the UK for three decades.[25] Its workers were amongst those who voted to take industrial action due a dispute over pay and working conditions.[26] Northern Trains urged the travelling public to avoid travelling on its services on any of the planned dates for the strikes, being only capable of operating a very minimalist timetable due to the number of staff involved.[27][28]


Northern took over all the services operated by Arriva Rail North on 1 March 2020.

Table of off-peak services

Below is a list of frequent off-peak services, per May 2022 timetables.[29] It has been slightly simplified due to some routes' irregular service pattern. Due to the extensive nature of the network, it has been split by region, then majority rail line.

An infrequent service not on these tables runs twice weekly on the Stockport–Stalybridge line calling at Reddish South, Denton, and Guide Bridge.

North East

East Coast Main Line
Route tph Calling at
Newcastle to Morpeth 1
Newcastle to Chathill 2tpd
Darlington to Newcastle 12
  • Irregular service that runs an average of 1 train every 2 hours
Tyne Valley, Durham Coast and Esk Valley Lines
Route tph Calling at
Carlisle to Newcastle 1
Hexham to Nunthorpe 1
Middlesbrough to Whitby 14
  • 4 trains per day run on Sundays
  • Occasional services combine and extend to Newcastle
Tees Valley Line
Route tph Calling at
Saltburn to Darlington 1
Saltburn to Bishop Auckland 1

North West

Furness and Cumbrian Coast lines
Route tph Calling at
Manchester Airport to Barrow-in-Furness 12
  • 3 trains per day have been removed Monday - Saturday until December 2022 resulting in some gaps of 2 hours between services every 5–6 hours. An hourly service runs on a Sunday.
Lancaster to Carlisle 4tpd
Barrow-in-Furness to Carlisle 1
  • 4 trains per day continue to Lancaster, see above.
Windermere and Morecambe branch lines
Route tph Calling at
Manchester Airport to Windermere 4tpd
Oxenholme Lake District to Windermere 1
Lancaster to Morecambe 1 Bare Lane
  • Hourly service supplemented/modified by additional trains from Leeds.
  • 1 train per day extends to Heysham Port.
Liverpool–Wigan and Blackpool branch lines
Route tph Calling at
Liverpool Lime Street to Wigan North Western 1
Liverpool Lime Street to Blackpool North 23
Manchester Airport to Blackpool North 1
Hazel Grove to Blackpool North 1
  • Monday to Saturday only
Preston to Blackpool South 1
East Lancashire and Ormskirk branch lines
Route tph Calling at
Preston to Colne 1
Ormskirk to Preston 1
Liverpool and Crewe–Manchester lines
Route tph Calling at
Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Oxford Road 1
  • Some services make additional calls at stations normally only served by the other stopping service, see above.
Liverpool Lime Street to Warrington Bank Quay 1tpd
  • Monday - Saturday only
Liverpool Lime Street to Crewe 1
  • Some evening and Sunday services terminate at Wilmslow
Manchester Piccadilly to Crewe 1
Manchester–Southport and Hooton–Helsby lines
Route tph Calling at
Southport to Alderley Edge 1
Stalybridge to Southport 1
Ellesmere Port to Manchester Victoria 3tpd
Mid-Cheshire, Stafford–Manchester, and Buxton lines
Route tph Calling at
Manchester Piccadilly to Chester 1
Manchester Piccadilly to Stoke-on-Trent 1
Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton 1
Ribble Valley line
Route tph Calling at
Clitheroe to Rochdale 1
Kirkby to Blackburn 1
Glossop and Hope Valley lines
Route tph Calling at
Manchester Piccadilly to Hadfield 43
Manchester Piccadilly to Rose Hill Marple 43
Manchester Piccadilly to New Mills Central 12
Manchester Piccadilly to Sheffield 1

Yorkshire and the Humber

Huddersfield Line
Route tph Calling at
Castleford to Huddersfield 3tpd
Bradford Interchange to Huddersfield 12
Wharfdale and Airedale lines
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Bradford Forster Square 2
Leeds to Ilkley 2
Bradford Forster Square to Ilkley 2
Leeds to Skipton 2
Bradford Forster Square to Skipton 2
Harrogate Line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to York via Harrogate 2
Pontefract Line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Knottingley via Castleford 1
Leeds to Knottingley via Streethouse 1
  • The service is generally hourly but there are some 2-hour gaps throughout the day.
  • On Sundays 1 train runs every 2 hours creating an hourly service between Leeds and Knottingley when combined with the service via Castleford, see below.
Leeds to Goole 2tpd
Wakefield Line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Doncaster 1
Leeds to Sheffield via Wakefield Westgate 1
Penistone Line
Route tph Calling at
Sheffield to Huddersfield 1
Hallam Line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Sheffield via Castleford 1
Leeds to Nottingham 1
Sheffield–Lincoln line
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Lincoln 1
Sheffield to Gainsborough Central 2tpd
York and Selby Lines
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to York via Cross Gates 1
Halifax to Hull 12
  • Monday - Saturday only
South Humberside Main Line
Route tph Calling at
Doncaster to Scunthorpe 12
Dearne Valley Line
Route tph Calling at
Sheffield to Adwick 23
  • Monday - Saturday only
Sheffield to Hull 1
Sheffield to Bridlington 1
Sheffield to York 3tpd
  • Monday to Saturday, this currently runs as a rail replacement bus service only between Moorthorpe and York. Train services run on this route between Sheffield and York on Sundays only.[31]
York and Yorkshire Coast lines
Route tph Calling at
Hull to Scarborough 1
Hull to York 12
  • An hourly service is provided between Hull and York when combined with the stopping service, see below.
  • An hourly service is provided between Hull and York when combined with the semi-fast service, see above.


Settle to Carlisle and Leeds to Morecambe
Route tph Calling at
Leeds to Carlisle 12
Leeds to Morecambe 12
Calder Valley line
Route tph Calling at
York to Blackpool North 1
Leeds to Manchester Victoria 1
Leeds to Wigan North Western 1
Leeds to Chester 1
  • Monday - Saturday only

Future services

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (July 2022)

Many of the additional services promised at the December 2017 and December 2019 recasts never materialised following the problems which arose at the May 2018 timetable recast (the delayed December 2017 recast.) In January 2021, the government initiated a consultation proposing three options for the May 2022 recast.[32]

Option A involves few changes but does involve reducing the frequency of Buxton services, diverting all Southport services into Manchester Victoria and re-routing Cumbria to Manchester Airport services via Bolton. Option C involves a significant recast to standardise services, which would see at least half-hourly services on most commuter lines in the Manchester area and more evenly spaced services e.g. services every 15 minutes at Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme. However, option C does include some non-standard services operating at peak time e.g. Southport to Manchester Oxford Road and Wigan to Hazel Grove. Option B involves making more changes than option A but involves less significant changes than option C would see. Option A would see the fewest services overall, whereas option C would see the most. [33]

Rolling stock

Northern Trains took over all of the rolling stock operated by its predecessor, namely Class 142, 144, 150, 153, 155, 156, 158, 170 and 195 diesel multiple units and Class 319, 321, 322, 323, 331 and 333 electric multiple units. All Class 321 and 322s were withdrawn in mid-2020 and moved to Greater Anglia.[34] All Class 153s were sent to storage by December 2021.[35]

Current fleet

Family Class Image Type Top speed Number Carriages Routes Built
mph km/h
Diesel multiple units
Sprinter 150/0
DMU 75 121 6 3

Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, West Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire and Derbyshire[36]

Hazel Grove - Arriva 150112+150138 Buxton service.JPG
46 2 1985–1986
26 1986–1987
155 Super Sprinter
7 2

York, Leeds, Hull and Scarborough[36]

Class 155 Arriva Northern Diagram.png
156 Super Sprinter
51 2 North East, Cumbrian Coast, Lancashire and Cumbria, Merseyside and Cheshire[36] 1987–1989
158/0 & 158/9 Express Sprinter
90 145 45 2 South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Lancashire, Fylde Coast, North Yorkshire and the North East[36] 1990–1992
8 3
Class 158 Arriva Northern 2 Car.png
Bombardier Turbostar 170/4
100 161 16 3 Scarborough - Sheffield, Leeds - York via Harrogate[36] 2003–2005
CAF Civity 195/0
25 2

Manchester - Derbyshire, Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds and Barrow in Furness, York - Blackpool, Windermere and Chester - Leeds[36]

195/1 33 3
Northern Class 195-0.png
Northern Class 195-1.png
Electric multiple units
BR Second Generation (Mark 3) 319/3
EMU 100 161 12[37] 4 Manchester - Crewe, Liverpool, Blackpool and Liverpool - Wigan.[36] 1990
Class 319 Northern 2016 Diagram.png
Hunslet Transportation Projects/Holec[38] 323
323231 of Northern Trains at Lime Street.jpg
90 145 17 3 Manchester-Hadfield, Manchester-Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester-Crewe, and Liverpool-Crewe[36] 1992–1995
323 Northern By Arriva.png
CAF Civity 331/0
100 161 31 3

Blackpool North - Hazel Grove, Liverpool, Leeds - Skipton, Bradford Forster Square, Doncaster, Ilkley, Bradford Forster Square - Skipton[36]

331/1 12 4
Northern Class 331-0 w-pantograph.png
Northern Class 331-1 w-pantograph.png
CAF/Siemens Transportation Systems 333
16 4 Skipton - Bradford Forster Square, Leeds - Ilkley[36] 2000–2003
Class 333 Arriva Northern Diagram with Pantograph.png
Bi-mode multiple units
BR Second Generation (Mark 3) 769/4
769448 at Manchester Piccadilly.jpg
BMU 100 161 8[39] 4 Southport - Alderley Edge 2017–-2020 (1987–1988 as Class 319)
Northern Class 769.png

Future fleet

17 Class 323s are to be transferred from West Midlands Trains.[40][41] This will result in the withdrawal of all Class 319 units.[42] 15 Class 156s are to transfer from East Midlands Railway, which includes the 9 Class 156/9s formerly used by Greater Anglia,[43] although they will be renumbered back to 156/4s before they are transferred.[44] The transferral of these units is already underway, with more to follow.[44]

Class Image Type Top speed Number Carriages Routes Built In service
mph km/h
Diesel multiple units
150/2 Sprinter
DMU 75 121 3 2 Local services across the North 1986–1987 TBA
GWR Class 150-2.png
156/4, /9 Sprinter
156489 in NR white.jpg
75 121 11 2 Local, commuter and regional services across the North 1987–1989 TBA
Class 156 in Arriva Northern Livery.png
Electric multiple units
EMU 90 145 17 3
  • Electrified commuter services in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Merseyside
1992–1995 2023[46]
323 Northern By Arriva.png

Past fleet

Former train types operated by Northern Trains include:

Class Image Type Top speed Number Carriages Routes Notes Built Left fleet
mph km/h
142 Pacer
DMU 75 121 79 2 Local and commuter services across the North

Replaced by Class 150, Class 156, Class 158, Class 170, and Class 195 units.

1985–1987 2020
144 Pacer
144013 at Morecambe.jpg
23 1986–1987
153 Super Sprinter
Northern Rail Class 153, 153352, platform 5, Lancaster railway station (geograph 4499685).jpg
17 1 Replaced by Class 150 units, later sent to storage[35] 1987–1988 2020–2021
EMU 100 161 3 4 Electrified commuter services in West Yorkshire Replaced by Class 331 units 1991 2020
322485 Leeds.jpg
5 1990


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (May 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Northern Trains currently has depots for its train crew at Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool North, Buxton, Carlisle, Darlington (drivers), Doncaster, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Liverpool Lime Street, Leeds, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria, Middlesbrough (conductors), Newcastle, Sheffield, Skipton, Wigan Wallgate, Workington and York.

Northern Trains' fleet is maintained at depots listed in the table below:

Depot Picture Allocation Nearest station
Allerton TMD 150, 156, 195, 319, 323,[47] 331, 769 Liverpool South Parkway
Blackburn King Street TMD 150, 156, 195 Blackburn
Botanic Gardens TMD 08, 155, 158, 170 Hull Paragon
Heaton TMD 156, 158 Manors
Newton Heath TMD 150, 156, 195 Moston
Neville Hill TMD 155, 158, 170, 331, 333 Leeds
Wigan Springs Branch TMD 158, 195, 319, 331, 769 Wigan North Western


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  2. ^ "About Northern". Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  3. ^ "Northern Trains Limited". Companies House. Archived from the original on 24 December 2020. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  4. ^ "Northern and TransPennine Express franchises awarded". Railway Gazette International. 9 December 2015.
  5. ^ "Arriva and First win franchises with 500 new carriages promise". The Railway Magazine. No. 1378. January 2016. p. 6.
  6. ^ Calder, Simon (21 May 2018). "Passenger fury at Northern Rail as train chaos hits Blackpool, Bolton and Manchester Airport on first day of new timetable". The Independent. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  7. ^ "'Unacceptable #NorthernFail' – the travel chaos passengers faced on first working day of new Northern timetable". Manchester Evening News. 21 May 2018. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Northern is a disaster. Why have commuters been left to face it alone?". The Guardian. 21 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Rail network 'crippling the North': Leeds commuter's angry open letter about life as a Northern passenger". Yorkshire Post. 14 October 2018.
  10. ^ Paton, Graeme (16 October 2018). "Manchester Oxford Road station is worst for delays". The Times.
  11. ^ "UK's railway stations with most train delays revealed". BBC News. 16 October 2018.
  12. ^ Gill, Oliver (4 November 2018). "German rail giant seeks help to prop up UK arm that owns Northern franchise". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
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  14. ^ Northern franchise to end within months Modern Railways issue 857 February 2020 page 8
  15. ^ Syal, Rajeev; Topham, Gwyn (2 January 2020). "Northern rail to be stripped of franchise, says Grant Shapps". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  16. ^ "Northern rail to be stripped of franchise, says Grant Shapps". The Guardian. 2 January 2020.
  17. ^ "Northern rail to be renationalised – and some Beeching closures could reopen". The Guardian. 27 January 2020.
  18. ^ "Ministers set to renationalise failed Northern rail franchise". Financial Times. 28 January 2020.
  19. ^ "Rail firm Northern to be put into public ownership". BBC News. 29 January 2020. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  20. ^ "Customer Information". Northern OLR Holdings. 30 January 2020. Archived from the original on 29 January 2020. Retrieved 30 January 2020. Q: What are Northern Trains Limited’s plans for the franchise? Our initial priority is to continue to stabilise performance across the region and restore reliability for customers. We will then explore opportunities to improve the experience for customers.
  21. ^ "Coronavirus: Rail franchise agreements suspended to avoid company collapses". Sky News. 23 March 2020. Archived from the original on 27 May 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  22. ^ Osborne, Samuel (27 December 2021). "COVID-19: Christmas travel disruption as Omicron hits rail and airline staffing".
  23. ^ "Transport Secretary's statement on coronavirus (COVID-19): 4 June 2020". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 23 June 2020. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
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  25. ^ "Rail strike: RMT union votes for national action". BBC News. 24 May 2022. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
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  27. ^ Stubbings, David. "When are the rail strikes? Dates and lines affected in the Black Country and Staffordshire". Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  28. ^ Clark, Kevin (13 June 2022). "RAIL STRIKE: Northern Rail urges customers NOT to travel during week of RMT action".
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  31. ^ "Train times 15 May – 10 December 2022, York to Selby and Hull and York to Sheffield via Pontefract Baghill" (PDF). Northern Rail. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  32. ^ "Consultation launched to improve Manchester's railways". GOV.UK. 14 January 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  33. ^ "Manchester Recovery Task Force Public Consultation" (PDF). GOV.UK. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 January 2021. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  34. ^ "Northern finishes with Dusty Bins". Railways Illustrated. July 2020. p. 16.
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  39. ^ "Class 769 fleets". TODAY'S RAILWAYS UK. No. 242. April 2022. p. 35.
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  41. ^ "First refurbished Class 323 for Northern". Railways Illustrated. January 2020. p. 9.
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  43. ^ "More 156s for Northern". Modern Railways. No. 870. March 2021. p. 87.
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  47. ^ "Class 323 EMUs to remain in traffic with Northern". Rail. No. 886. August 2019. p. 30.
Preceded byArriva Rail North Operator of Northern franchise 2020 - Succeeded byIncumbent