What’s in a name?


“Just call us Northern” says our train operating company under the 9-month old franchise. It’s what it says on the “partly refurbished” Class 158 train that’s been running on our line and on the “we are Northern” posters that punningly promote the new franchise.  We were politely corrected when we called them “Northern Railway”, though the web branding stands out on posters, leaflets etc. The logo, of course has  a lower case initial “n”, a kind of inverted horseshoe (hope the good luck doesn’t run out of the ends).  Legally, the new franchise holder is Arriva Rail North Ltd. So (just) Northern is (just) a trading name. And don’t confuse Arriva Rail North with Rail North. The former is part of a group owned by German Railways (but firmly grounded in north-east England). Rail North is the body of nearly 30 local and combined authorities that, in partnership with the Department for Transport (DfT), supervises both Northern and TransPennine Express train franchises.  It seems train operators’ parent company names —Arriva or First— are no longer applied to public branding. So (First) Great Western is just Great Western Railway and (First) TransPennine Express is just Transpennine Express (web tpexpress.co.uk). Did somebody say “Bring back British Rail”? Let’s not go there right now!


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