STRIKE-HIT train company Arriva Northern has lost the lucrative contract to run trains on the Trans-Pennine route.

The Strategic Rail Authority has confirmed the company will not be asked to carry on running services when the current contract expires.

Instead the battle to win the franchise, which connects the North-East with Manchester and Liverpool, will be fought out between Connex and First Group.

Arriva services have been hit by a long running industrial dispute involving conductors and station staff who are striking over pay.

RMT union assistant general secretary Pat Sikorski said: "We hope that we can look forward to more sensible industrial relations with whoever takes over the Trans-Pennine franchise."