Northern launches new business regions to bring railways closer to the communities they serve. New regions based in Leeds, Manchester, Preston and Newcastle.

Today Northern has announced four new business regions that will play a key role in transforming rail travel in the North.  From regional centres in Leeds, Manchester, Preston and Newcastle, regional directors will lead the delivery of wide ranging changes announced on Arriva’s launch of the new Northern franchise on 1 April.  The new Northern regions will ‘go live’ on 1 July.

Northern operates one of the largest transport networks in the UK, providing more than 16,000 weekly train services to a population of 15 million people.  Over the next four years customers will benefit from a £1 billion pound investment that will see the rollout of 281 brand-new carriages, a 37 per cent increase in peak time capacity and revamped ticketing.

Alex Hynes, managing director commented: “Regions are at the heart of our new franchise.  They will enable the transformation of Northern, bringing our people and service delivery closer to the communities and customers we serve.”

“From July a new team of regional directors will be based in four regional centres.  They will utilise our extensive knowledge of local customer needs and transport opportunities to build railway services that meet the needs of their region.” 

The regions will be led by four new regional directors: 

  • Central.  This region will be led by Liam Sumpter and based in Manchester. The region stretches as far North as Clitheroe and Colne, down to Crewe, Stoke on Trent and Buxton.
  • East. Northern’s largest new region, based in Leeds, incorporating an area that is bordered by Hull, Nottingham, Todmorden and Armathwaite.  This region will be headed up by Paul Barnfield.
  • North-East. Mike Paterson will lead this region from Newcastle. This region covers an area from Carlisle to Whitby, to Chathill and Teesside Airport.
  • West. This region covers Northern’s services from Ellesmere Port, through to Liverpool, Blackpool and the Cumbrian coast.  Sharon Keith will be the regional director, working from a new Northern base in Preston.

Liam Sumpter, Regional Director Central commented: “Northern’s central team will enable transformational change to railway services in the North. It’s such an exciting time for the whole region, we cannot fail to be inspired. I am delighted to be part of that.” 

Paul Barnfield, Regional Director East commented: “The transformation we will deliver at Northern during this franchise is a once in a generation opportunity.  I can't wait to bring the benefits of that change to our customers in our east region.” 

Mike Paterson, Regional Director North East commented: “The scale of investment and the quality of our people makes Northern a fantastic and exciting place to be.  From my new base in Newcastle, I want to work with our customers and stakeholders to ensure we deliver step-change improvements to rail services across the North-East.”

Sharon Keith, Regional Director West commented: “I’m excited to be part of a team that will deliver such a significant transformation for the people of the North.  Our new West region is an incredibly diverse area; from great cities to beautiful countryside and coastland.  I look forward to being part of Northern to deliver the best service possible for the communities we serve.”

Northern Regional Directors Biographies

Liam Sumpter

Liam is Northern’s Regional Director Central

He has joined Northern from Network Rail, where he was Area Director for the West Midlands & Chilterns.  In this role he was responsible for operations and maintenance for Birmingham during the construction of the revitalised New Street Gateway and the opening of the new East West Rail-link to Oxford Parkway on the Chilterns. 

Liam joined Railtrack in 2002, working through the transition to Network Rail.  His Railtrack career has included roles in engineering innovation, Group Finance, becoming Financial Controller for Sussex route and infrastructure maintenance specialising in rail, signalling and electrification, primarily on Brighton mainline routes.

Liam was born in Leeds and grew up in the East Midlands before moving to York for university.

Paul Barnfield

Paul is Northern’s Regional Director East

Paul has been at Northern since 2010 where he progressed to Director of Operations. He joined from National Express East Anglia in 2007 where he started as London Terminals Manager overseeing London Liverpool Street and Stratford Stations, becoming Head of Stations and Retail.  Under his leadership, Liverpool Street, one of Europe's busiest stations was preparing for the 2012 Olympics and, in collaboration with Network Rail won London Station of the Year.  

Paul’s career started in 1993 as a conductor and station co-ordinator in Sheffield.  After becoming a Chartered Member of the Institute of Transport he joined Midland Mainline in 1998 as a train manager, eventually leading customer service for train service and stations. At Midland Mainline he introduced new hourly train services between London and Manchester, achieving a 90% National Passenger Survey score and was part of a team that introduced new rolling stock.

Mike Paterson

Mike is Northern’s Regional Director North East.

He joined Northern from PA Consulting where he was Principal Consultant, leading change management in a Defence Infrastructure programme. Prior to this he spent 26 years in the military as a Captain in the Royal Navy.   This included being Captain of HMS Gloucester and operational deployments to the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Congo, Lebanon and the Falklands.  He has a MA in Defence Studies (International Relations) from Kings College London and is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (FCMI).

One of Mike’s first naval appointments was as the Navigating Officer of HMS Newcastle, which included a number of visits to its namesake city.

Sharon Keith

Sharon is Northern’s Regional Director West.

She has joined Northern from Tyne & Wear Metro, an Arriva concession, where for the last 18 months, she was managing director.  Her six year career at Metro also included roles as Customer Service Director and the dual role of Customer Services and Operations Director.

At Metro, Sharon led projects that delivered a step change in the on-station customer experience, reduced fraud to a record low, a project that included an innovative app to deal with revenue protection, and improvements to recruitment and training programmes.  Before Metro, Sharon’s career included time at GNER and in the travel and energy industries.