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About Northern

About Northern

Mission and Vision

Northern plays a vital role in the north of England by connecting tens of thousands of people to work, leisure, education and more every day. Our aim is to connect you to opportunities by providing a reliable and friendly train service. We have made significant progress since we started but there is much more that we want to achieve.

Who is Northern Rail?

We are owned by a 50:50 joint venture between Serco Group plc, the international services company, and Abellio, a subsidiary of NS Dutch Railways. In addition to the Northern franchise, they also hold the 25-year concession to run Merseyrail services.

Facts and figures

Northern was formed in December 2004 when our parent companies won the franchise contract (awarded by the UK Government) to operate train services in the north of England until April 2014.

  • We have 4,900 employees providing nearly 2500 local and regional train services every weekday, making us the largest train operator in the UK.
  • We run trains across the north of England, serving a population of nearly 15m.
  • Our trains call at over 500 stations (approximately 20% of all UK railway stations), of which we manage 464.
  • We lease around 313 trains, both diesel and electric.
  • We provide direct access to three National parks; Peak District, Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire Moors as well as routes into the Lake District.

Serco has run the highly successful Docklands Light Railway since 1997 and in summer 2007 it won a seven-year extension. Serco also operates and maintains the Dubai Metro, which was opened in 2009 and is the world’s most extensive driverless metro system. Serco Group is listed on the London Stock Exchange.



Abellio has a strong position in the UK rail market through its successful rail business Merseyrail and Northern Rail, both operated in 50-50 joint venture with Serco, and Greater Anglia. Abellio is also active in the London bus market through Abellio London and Surrey. On mainland Europe, Abellio operates bus and rail contracts in several federal states in Germany through Abellio Deutschland and bus contracts in the Czech Republic through Probo Bus.

Through its Best Practice programme Abellio systematically supports the performance of its businesses. The programme provides a platform for exchanging knowledge, experience and expertise across Abellio’s parent company Netherlands Railways and Abellio’s businesses and gives staff the opportunity to share common (and differing) capabilities, grow their own experience base, and build relationships across the family of companies. The programme offers activities such as biannual international seminars, site visits, secondments, benchmarks, and workshops, managed by functional leaders within Abellio.

For more information on Abellio, please visit www.abellio.com

Our People

Working in Partnership

Working in PartnershipWe are passionate about making a positive difference to the communities that we serve but making that happen takes hard work and a commitment to building strong, effective partnerships. Find out more about our working partnerships.


Achievements We have made significant progress since we started operating in December 2004. Find out more about our achievements.

Please note our Public and Employers Liability insurers are as follows,


QBE Insurance Company (UK)Ltd
31st Oct 2007 -30th June 2014
Policy number Y019688 – Portal ID C0119


Travelers Insurance Company Ltd
1st July 2014 – 30th June 2015
Portal ID – Gallagher Basset D00019