Northern Rail will be stripped of its franchise, the Transport Secretary said this morning.

After years of poor performance and complaints, Grant Shapps MP said he ‘simply will not put up with’ the troubled service and has ‘already kicked off that process’ to remove the franchise.

When asked by BBC Breakfast if his intention was to remove Northern Rail from the franchise, he said: "That's right. In the autumn I wrote to the necessary parties in this with what's called a request for proposal.

"And that's simply where you take action. There are a couple of ways that can go. But one is to strip a franchise, one is to have a short term contract.

"But yes, exactly as you've said, I'm simply not prepared for the service on Northern to carry on as it is and I am taking action."

Northern’s deal was due to run until April 2025, but has been widely criticised amid timetable chaos over the past two years. The introduction of new timetables in May 2018 saw up to 310 Northern trains a day cancelled.

Northern has said that changes to the franchise were confirmed back in October and the comments from Mr Shapps do not indicate anything more about the company's situation than was already known last year.

A Department for Transport spokesman also said that the operator could still be awarded a short-term contract at the end of discussions - one of the outcomes of the process Mr Shapps 'kicked off'.

The spokesman said: "As the Transport Secretary said, he has started a process which would either strip Northern of its franchise or issue a short-term contract to them.

“We are taking action to ensure passengers in the North get a better service and we will provide an update in due course.”

But Mr Shapps has emphasised that passengers will see changes soon, appearing to confirm again that the franchise will end for Northern.

He added: "The simple answer to the question is yes, it is going to be brought to an end.

"It's partially a legal process but frustrated commuters will not have to wait long."

Bury Times: Grant Shapps during a visit to BoltonGrant Shapps during a visit to Bolton

The managing director of Northern responded to the Transport Secretary's comments, saying the company has faced challenges 'outside of its direct control'.

David Brown, Managing Director at Northern, said: “It’s on record that the Northern franchise has faced several material and unprecedented challenges in the past couple of years, outside the direct control of Northern. The most significant of these is the ongoing, late delivery of major infrastructure upgrades.

“The North West electrification was more than two years late, which meant we could not use electric trains on that route or cascade diesel trains from that route to run more services elsewhere on our network. More recently, new and longer platforms at Leeds stations are delayed, which means we have had to postpone our plans to run longer trains.

“These factors – alongside the damage caused by strike action and lower than expected economic growth – have had a significant effect on the revenue expected in our original franchise business plan agreed with government back in 2015."

The "request for proposals" may result in the services being brought under government control, being run by the Operator of Last Resort. The Northern boss says the company is putting forward a proposal for a shorter contract.

“The Government has asked us to prepare a business plan for a shorter ‘Direct Award’ which will see the completion of our transformation programme.”

Mr Shapps also criticised the performance of TransPennine Express, which has had its own problems with delays and overcrowding in recent months.

The Transport Secretary's pledge comes as train fares are hiked from today, raising annual passes by more than £100 for some customers.

Fewer than two-thirds of trains ran on time last year and pressure groups have hailed the price increase as the start of "another decade of misery" for rail users.