Rail journeys in the North West will undergo the “biggest transformation in decades”, the government has pledged this morning (9 December 2015), after the new operators for two key franchises were revealed.
The winning bidders will oversee a £1.2bn boost to rail services, which will include more than 500 new carriages, the removal of the outdated and unpopular Pacer trains and 2,000 extra services a week across the North.
The Department for Transport said it intends to award the Northern franchise to Arriva Rail North Ltd and the TransPennine Express franchise to First Trans Pennine Express Ltd. The franchises will be jointly managed from Leeds by the Department for Transport and Rail North, which represents 29 local authorities across the North.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We promised passengers in the North West a world class rail service that would make the Northern Powerhouse a reality – and I’m delighted that we have found two operators that will deliver exactly that.
“As a one nation government we are committed to closing the economic gap between North and South. This deal, and the joint management of the franchises, will bring the Northern Powerhouse to life.”