New trains and a better service for the North have been promised by Arriva, which started running the Northern franchise on April 1. It will operate the franchise until March 2025.
The company is introducing a 37% increase in peak time capacity and revamped ticketing, as it seeks to increase the number of weekly services it runs from 16,000 to 18,000.
Arriva plans to spend £1 billion over the next nine years on 281 new carriages, a 12% increase in the number of services, launching the Northern Connect brand (which will be separate to the rest of the franchise), and providing staff at 45 currently unstaffed stations.
Chris Burchell, managing director for Arriva’s UK Trains Division, said: “The journey towards a complete transformation in services for customers in the North starts now.”
Northern Managing Director Alex Hynes said: “Investment is exactly what customers wanted, and we are looking to achieving major improvements before the end of the decade.”
Sir Richard Leese, chairman of Rail North, said: “Today marks the start of better rail services for the North and of much greater local control over the development of these services.
“Passengers and businesses told us that they wanted less crowded trains, faster and more frequent services that start earlier and finish later, and more opportunities to travel on Sundays.”
- To read more on this story, read RAIL 798, published on April 13.