TransPennine Express is set to be the latest train operating franchise to continue under a Direct Award from the Department for Transport.
On March 8, the DfT announced its intention to grant incumbent operator FirstGroup up to an eight-year contract starting in April or May 2023. The core term is four years, after which the contract could be terminated with three months’ notice.
Services are expected to be “substantially similar to those currently operated” under the existing deal, which dates from 2021.
Obligations on the operator will include supporting delivery of the York-Manchester Trans-Pennine Route Upgrade (TRU), which includes electrification, line speed improvements, and resignalling.
“The length of the Direct Award is intended to ensure service and stewardship continuity, given the scale and complexity of the planned TRU infrastructure programme,” said the DfT in its official announcement, known as a ‘prior information notice’.
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