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New Northern and TransPennine Express rail franchises begin

1 April 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review

Two new rail franchises have commenced in the North of England with an investment of over £1.2bn planned for Northern and TransPennine Express.

Rail franchises begin

Alex Hynes, Managing Director of Northern, with a visualisation of a new-look Northern train on the first day of the Northern Franchise

Today, Arriva Rail North Ltd and First Group began operation on the Northern and TransPennine Express rail franchises respectively. Representatives from Rail North and the two train operating companies joined Andrew Jones MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, at Manchester’s Piccadilly Station to welcome the start of the franchises which will see over £1.2 billion of rail improvements across the North.

Under a ground-breaking devolution agreement, the two new franchises will be co-managed by the Department for Transport and Rail North Ltd, which brings together representatives from 29 local transport authorities from across the region through the Rail North Partnership. 

New rail franchises will provide state-of-the-art trains costing £800m

New Northern operator Arriva Rail North Ltd and First TransPennine Express Ltd owner First Group will provide state-of-the-art trains with 500 new carriages costing £800m. The new rolling stock will replace the unpopular Pacer trains by 2019 and deliver Intercity standard vehicles across the entire TransPennine fleet.

Over the next four years, the franchises will bring more than 140 new trains onto the network, providing space for 40,000 extra passengers at the busiest times of the day as well as adding a much needed increase in service frequency at off-peak times. Facilities at over 400 stations across the North will also be improved.

Facilities at over 400 stations to be improved

Andrew Jones, Transport Minister, said: “Arriva Rail North and First Trans Pennine Express have ambitious plans to deliver a world class rail service that will make a real difference to customers, bringing faster and more frequent services and connecting up northern cities and towns.

“Our new joint management of the franchises with Rail North, coupled with our commitment to spend a record £13 billion on transport in the North by 2020, will bring the Northern Powerhouse to life and help the region to realise its full economic potential.”

Sir Richard Leese, Chair of the Association of Rail North Partner Authorities, said: “These new franchises tangibly demonstrate the real benefit of devolution of power to the North. Rail North Limited played a key role in specifying tender requirements and evaluating bids leading to the award of the franchises. They will now be responsible through the Rail North / DfT Partnership team for the management and development of services from their office in Leeds.

“Rail North Limited will continue to 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.”

Alex Hynes, Managing Director of Northern, said: “Today is the day we begin to deliver our plans for the exciting next phase of Northern and each and every one of the team is focussed and determined to deliver for customers.

“Investment is exactly what customers wanted and we are looking forward to achieving major improvements before the end of the decade.”

Leo Goodwin, Managing Director of TransPennine Express, said: “We are excited to begin this new rail franchise and work alongside Rail North to oversee a £500 million investment in our rail services in the North and Scotland.

“Over the next four years the TransPennine Express franchise will re-imagine the customer experience at every stage of our service and help bring the towns and cities of the North closer together.”

European Railway Review recently published an article by Chris Burchell, Arriva’s Managing Director UK Trains, on the start of the new Northern Rail franchise and his thoughts on future improvements. The full article can be read here.


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