Unions are warning of trouble ahead for rail passengers as commuters wake up to a brand new operator.
Arriva, owned by German state rail operator Deutsche Bahn, took over the Northern franchise this morning, promising to transform train services across the region.
But trade union leaders have warned passengers to be braced for a cut in public funding and a threat to safety and jobs.
Unions are warning of an 85 per cent cut in Government funding over the course of the franchise – £236 million in real terms.
And they are concerned jobs and the safety of passengers could be at risk, claiming 50 per cent of trains under the new franchise will only have a driver, with no guard to maintain safety and security or assist passengers with disabilities.
A rally was held in Manchester ahead of the new franchise launch - attended by leading trade union figures from the transport sector.
And they warned a cut in investment made a mockery of Chancellor George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse vision.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Drastic cuts to rail services can only mean increased fares, worse services, or job losses.
“The government needs to invest in a publicly-owned railway we can be proud of.”
ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: “This should be an opportunity to kick-start a brighter economic future in local communities.
“Our fear is that job cuts may be the reality.
“Who could possibly believe that making the railway less safe, less accessible and more expensive is the right thing to do?”
The new operator will take over services which had been provided by Northern - linking Blackpool with York, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds
Arriva Rail North are promising to invest heavily in services across the region with a new trains on order from Spanish firm CAF. The firm is investing £400m in new carriages and will withdraw the unpopular ‘Pacer’ trains which date from the 1980s and operate on many rural and commuter routes. A new Northern Connect network will also be established, linking the region’s key towns and cities with express services.
Nobody from Arriva was available for comment.