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Concession next stop for Northern?


01 June 2020

The government is likely to replace its operation of the Northern rail franchise in with a concession model, though the change may be many months away because of Covid-19.

In a report discussing the future of Northern, officers of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority told councillors: “It is anticipated that the OLR [operator of last resort] arrangements for Northern will apply until a new structure is put in place in response to the long-awaited Williams Review. Although not yet published, this is widely expected to be based on an operating concession model.” 

Covid-19 is likely to delay any transfer, however. In a separate report, Dave Pearson, WYCA’s director of transport services, said: “The continued operation of the railway is coming at a significant cost to the DfT as revenue has substantially reduced, whilst fixed operating costs remain high. 

“It is clear there will be a sharp focus on ensuring financial efficiency during this period, with likely (but currently unknown) impacts on short-term investment plans. 

“It will take many months for revenue to increase significantly, with a strong likelihood of long-term changes to rail markets.

“Under these circumstances it is difficult to anticipate a return to the commercial rail franchises in the short-term.”

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