Two new operators will take over key rail networks in the north of England next year – and passengers have been told to expect a “world class service”.
The government announced on Wednesday (December 9) who had won two key rail franchises.
The Northern franchise has been awarded to to Arriva Rail North Limited. It is currently operated by Northern Rail, owned by Serco-Abellio.
And the TransPennine Express franchise has gone to First Trans Pennine Express Limited. It is run by the FirstGroup along with Keolis.
They will take over in April 2016.
What it means for passengers
Ministers promise that “rail journeys across Yorkshire and the Humber will undergo the biggest transformation in decades”.
They say the new operators will:
Specific improvements include more services from Newcastle to York, Leeds and Manchester, longer trains and more frequent services, and free wi-fi for passengers.
– Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin
The TransPennine Express service
The TransPennine Express franchise runs intercity services across the north and into Scotland.
New franchise operator First Trans Pennine Express Limited has promised:
- 220 new carriages, equivalent to 44 trains, providing fast 125mph services across the network
- longer, brand new trains on services between Scarborough, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool
- improved passenger facilities including extra shops and better ticket offices
Tim O’Toole, chief executive of FirstGroup, said:
The Northern franchise
The Northern franchise is the second largest in the UK and operates regional and commuter services across the region.
Some of Arriva’s improvement pledges include…
- more services from Newcastle to York, Leeds and Manchester
- longer trains and more frequent services, providing space for more than 14,000 extra passengers – around 46% more capacity – into Leeds and Sheffield during the morning rush hour
- a new high-quality ‘Northern Connect’ service, meaning new or refurbished trains on longer-distance services, faster journeys and stations staffed daily with catering services and free Wi-Fi at each one.
- improved ticketing, including mobile and print-at-home tickets, and discounted fares for jobseekers.
Chris Burchell, managing director of Arriva’s UK Trains division, said:
Our aim is to be the communities’ local railway and to leave a positive lasting legacy for the north of England.
Devolution on the rails
The franchises will be jointly managed from Leeds by the Department for Transport and Rail North Limited – which represents 29 local authorities across the north.
Sir Richard Leese, chair of the Association of Rail North Partner Authorities, said:
Rail North will work very closely with Transport for the North to drive forward economic growth by developing visionary proposals to deliver radically improved connectivity across the north.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin called it “fantastic news for Yorkshire”. He said: