The first time I got on a Northern Train, I was rained on inside the carriage thanks to a hole in the roof. Virgin Trains will forever hold a place in my heart as the worst rail firm I ever had the misfortune to use, but friends commuting daily using Northern hated the company beyond all measure — for being late, too infrequent, of poor quality, and, as with all rail travel in the United Kingdom, far too expensive.
So the announcement that the Conservative government is renationalizing the franchise after repeated failures has been greeted with joy by many. Earlier this month, Conservative transport minister Grant Shapps announced that Virgin would be stripped of its franchise. Then came the sudden news it was to be renationalized. The second biggest commuter rail service, South Western Railway, is also under threat of renationalization due to appalling performance and the constant threat of strike action resulting from its treatment of staff and the degradation of pay and working conditions.Jacobin