Northern looks to the future

NORTHERN MANAGING DIRECTOR NICK DONOVAN TELLS PHILIP SHERRATT HOW THE OPERATOR IS BUILDING A POST-PANDEMIC VISION FOR RAIL IN THE REGION

CAF DMU on the Calder Valley: No 195110 works the 08.42 Leeds to Manchester Victoria at Todmorden on 4 November 2020. 
TOM MCATEE

Sometimes timing can be unfortunate. This is certainly true for the transfer of Northern to the Department for Transport’s Operator of Last Resort on 1 March 2020. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the termination of the predecessor Arriva franchise and transfer to DfT OLR Holdings Ltd (DOHL) on 9 January last year, when the Covid pandemic was still a distant worry here in the UK. But by the time the transfer took place, the pandemic was spreading rapidly across Europe, and by the end of March the country was in its first lockdown.

Nick Donovan took over as MD of Northern Trains less than two weeks before that lockdown was implemented. Of course, he knows the region well from his previous stint as MD of TransPennine Express. But, like all organisations, the company was juggling crisis management with the development of a longer-term strategy through the 100-day review initiated by the new leadership on taking over.

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