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£1.2 billion upgrade for North as Arriva wins Northern and First retains TransPennine Express

The Department for Transport says that more than 500 brand new carriages, the removal of Pacers, and space for an extra 40,000 passengers at busiest times will provide a boost for the North, after it awarded two new franchises this morning (December 9).

Arriva Rail North Limited won the Northern franchise, while the TransPennine Express franchise has been won by First Trans Pennine Express Limited.

The franchises will be jointly managed from Leeds by the Department for Transport and Rail North Limited.

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said: “We promised passengers 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.

“In 2004, the last time these contracts were awarded, the Government did not plan for growth. Today we’ve put that right.

“Arriva Rail North Limited and First Trans Pennine Express Limited went far beyond our requirements with exciting, ambitious plans that will make a real difference to customers, and - coupled with our commitment to push ahead with electrifying the vital trans-Pennine route - will help the region realise its full economic potential, ensuring it has a modern 21st century transport system. This is fantastic news for the North.”

Sir Richard Leese, chairman of the Association of Rail North Partner Authorities, said: “Passengers were clear that they wanted to see a transformation, including a lot more newer, better trains running more regularly with a step-change in services provided off-peak and on Sundays. They also wanted improvements to stations and changes to make ticketing easier - and thanks to all the partnership work by Rail North and the Department for Transport, that’s exactly what we are able to announce today.
“This is another crucial move towards devolution for the North. Rail North will now play a key role in the management and development of both new franchises, providing an excellent platform for further development and full devolution in the future. 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.”

Arriva will operate the Northern franchise from April 2016 until March 2025. It will remove Pacers by the end of 2019, and £400 million will be spent on 281 new air-conditioned carriages, which is more than double the minimum required in the Government’s Invitation To Tender.

There will also be more than 2,000 extra services each week, with around 400 additional Sunday services, including: new direct journeys from Bradford to Wakefield, Sheffield, Nottingham, Liverpool and Hull; from Leeds to Chester and Bridlington; from Lincoln to Leeds; and from Manchester Airport to Warrington, Bradford and Halifax, nearly a 40% increase in capacity.

Space will be created for 31,000 extra passengers travelling into the five key commuter cities of the North (Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle) during the morning rush hour. There will be 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 WiFi at each one.

As well as serving the five key commuter cities, this network will also serve other destinations including Bradford, Halifax, Blackburn, Accrington, Burnley, Lincoln, Worksop and Retford. There will be improved ticketing, including mobile and print-at-home tickets, and discounted fares for jobseekers.

First Trans Pennine Express Limited runs from April 2016 until March 2023. It will buy 220 brand new carriages capable of 125mph (the equivalent of 44 trains) in a £400m deal.

It will introduce new and additional services for Scotland - including a new, direct Liverpool to Glasgow service from December 2018 with new electric trains, extending existing services beyond Newcastle to Edinburgh from December 2019, and bringing in additional services from Manchester to Glasgow and Edinburgh from December 2017.
The new TPE deal will double the number of Manchester to Newcastle services and run more daily services to Hull from Manchester and Leeds (both from December 2017), bring in 9,000 extra seats into Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle (an overall capacity boost of nearly 70% across the region during the morning peak), and offer discounted advance fares for 16 to 18-year-olds and jobseekers.

Both operators will provide free WiFi - on TransPennine Express services and stations by July 2018, and on all Northern services and 36 stations by December 2019 - with media servers on trains providing entertainment and information to smartphones and tablets.

During the franchises, the Government and Network Rail will also forge ahead with electrification of the trans-Pennine line to deliver faster journey times and significantly more capacity. Network Rail is currently developing a detailed plan for the work, which (when finished) will provide a fully electrified route between Liverpool and Newcastle. The work is due to be completed in 2022.

The operators will also support the rollout of Oyster-style smart ticketing on public transport across the North, backed by £150m of government funding.
Government will receive £400m in premiums from First Trans Pennine Express Limited over the life of the franchise (previously, the franchise was subsidised by the Government). The amount of annual subsidy the government pays for the Northern franchise will be reduced by £140m by the end of the nine-year contract.

  • For more on this story, read RAIL 790, on sale December 23.

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  • P Hanson - 09/12/2015 20:34

    Why don't the Goverment hand over the whole of the railway to the German State Railway as we are not allowed a national railway of our own. All these promises are pie in the sky aims.

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  • Anthony Sneath - 15/12/2015 18:33

    Why are they "Pie in the sky"? Fastest passenger growth and disability access means something has to happen. Lets face it, the North has always had a bad deal when compared to the South East. This will go someway to redress the balance.

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  • BigTone - 16/12/2015 11:00

    Not "pie in the sky" but real and going to give the North a major much needed boost. This will turn my city (Lincoln) into something other than an isolated backwater. Now we need a similar plan for EMT

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  • Andrewjgwilt1989 - 19/12/2015 09:18

    Most of the Class 319's are already starting to cascade to the North of England with Class 700's being delivered from Germany from where they were built and will be in service in Spring next year with the Class 319's to have a new home and new services once the electrification is completed and most of the former London Underground D-Stocks are being moved to the North of England and are to be transformed to Class 230 DEMU D-Trains to replace the Pacer trains on most rural routes across the North of England and even the Class 230 D-Trains are destined to be used in East Anglia and Southwest England.

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  • BigTone - 19/12/2015 14:15

    While I don't doubt that there will be Class 230 trains will be used "up North", I remember a minister a few months ago saying about the 120 (129?) new diesel coaches that they will not be refurbished Pacers or rebuilt ex-Underground units (OK with these franchise agreements, things have moved on) and as this article says "brand new" I must assume "straight out of the factory" I just hope for a prompt start on the building of this stock

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  • Melvyn - 20/12/2015 22:06

    We keep hearing about old trains up north and yet many trains that are used in London are the PEP stock developed by NSE and are now around 40 years old classes 313 and 315 being examples . As for converted D Stock well only the body shells are the full age as London Transport and TFL have upgraded these trains over the years and the conversion now planned will create almost new trains at a fraction of the cost of completely new trains and thus are economic on loss makes no branches many of which have speed limits less than the converted D stock while the fact they are Diesel Electric will give them better acceleration than DMUs a useful feature on lines that are basically little different to sub surface lines they have operated on in London.

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  • Chris Hayward - 22/12/2015 15:38

    The Northerners who complain about how hard done by they are need to come over to East Anglia. I make frequent trips to Blackpool (family) and other areas using my handy OAP Railcard and I can tell them when I stand on Leeds or other 'northerly' stations I see a very different and more modern railway than I do in London Liverpool Street or Colchester or Norwich. And don't even get me started on Lowestoft ... We may not have Pacers here but it wasn't THAT long ago we had MkIIs and Class 86s as our flagship Main Line service. Even now we have WCML hand me downs. Oh and dare I mention we paid a premium of over £187 Million to the DfT last year unlike Northern who were subsidised to the tune of some £113 Million last year.

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  • Ian Robinson - 31/03/2016 21:05

    the rail franchises as a whole have been underwritten massively ever since 1996. these agreements mean little when a franchise holder can wriggle out like national express did. few transport providers anywhere in the world make any money, and we should stop indulging this free-market utopianism and insist that government puts the interests of citizens first. it will cost the taxpayer - as it already does - but it is in the interests of the nation as a whole. I would far rather pay direct taxes to the state to provide proper, sustainable public transport than line the pockets of private shareholders

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