Regional Railways North East

British Rail's Regional Railways sector was split into separate businesses known as 'shadow franchises' beginning on 1 April 1994. The North East sector of Regional Railways became Regional Railways North East and passed into private ownership during March 1997.

The Regional Railways brand identity was retained throughout this period and during the first year of private ownership.

Northern Spirit

1998 - 2001

Owners MTL launched the Northern Spirit brand during May 1998, a little more than a year after takeover.


Arriva Trains Northern

2001 - 2004

The takeover of MTL by Arriva resulted in the franchise adopting the group-wide Arriva brand and the name Arriva Trains Northern.


In 2004, the Regional Railways North East franchise was dissolved, with its services being transferred to two new franchises: Northern and Transpennine Express.