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Northern Rail to ‘transform’ services in the north

Northern Rail Ltd has been awarded a new Direct Award deal extending its current franchise for 22 months. 

As part of the agreement, which will run until February 2016 when a new long-term franchise will be let, Northern has committed to a range of improvements as part of the contract which includes improving ticket purchase facilities, extending the availability of advanced tickets, investing in better passenger information by, for example, installing customer information display screens at a further 100 stations, and funding new environmental initiatives. 

The Department for Transport (DfT) and Northern Rail will also be continuing to work on proposals to deliver a fleet of electric trains for the franchise. This would see existing diesel stock released to strengthen other services during the period of the deal. 

Alex Hynes, managing director for Northern Rail, said: “The next 22 months is about being more efficient and more effective, seeking and delivering new ways of working. That doesn’t mean taking short cuts or risks. It’s about achieving a balance: delivering a safe and improved service in a new way: doing more with less.” 

Rail minister Stephen Hammond stated that the deal marks the start of the transformation of rail services across the north, and will help support the government’s £600m of investment in the region. 

According to the DfT, the agreement will see a significant amount of the network electrified, delivering cleaner, quicker and more reliable journeys for passengers travelling between key strategic cities including Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. 

Hammond added: “Rail travel across the north will be transformed over the next five years through huge levels of government investment. 

“However, I am well aware that there is a need for action now. So I have insisted on even tougher punctuality, reliability and passenger satisfaction targets for Northern Rail. We will also continue to work closely with the operator to deliver additional electric trains which will strengthen services across the network.” 

The DfT noted that the deal “underlines” the government’s commitment to delivering the best possible deal for passengers. This includes £38bn to maintain and expand the railways over the next five years, and action to cap fares at inflation for the first time in 10 years. The deal has been co-signed by the five passenger transport executives serving the north. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email  


Iain   28/03/2014 at 12:47

Could Northern Rail introduce a direct service between Liverpool and Glasgow? There is a good business case, and plenty of talk, but no action. Could this be that the proposal does not involve manchester?

Mikeyb   29/03/2014 at 15:57

The reinstatement of a Liverpool to Glasgow or Edinburgh service is long overdue but I would assume that TPE would be the obvious candidate to operate it - not Northern - as it would fit in with the present services from Manchester Airport.

Scouse Exile   23/05/2014 at 08:58

I hope that services to Scotland are reinstated from Liverpool..I know TPE run services from Manchester to Scotland once electrification from there to Newtown lesson Willows once completed so hopefully the same will apply to Liverpool once the electrification to Wigan is completed..also hope the Halton Curve is reopened and a Liverpool to North Wales service is reinstated...ridiculous that a large city such as ours has no direct services to Wales or Scotland

Davea   12/09/2014 at 12:20

Liverpool is, globally, one of the top ten visitor destinations and has a growing cruise liner turnaround. We are having to think twice, from experience of a cruise last year, of using the train with heavy luggage to be transferred at Wigan or Preston . Have spoken to Fred Olsen Line who are concerned with the lack of good connections to Liverpool from Scotland. They did not know passengers had such a hassle travelling from Glasgow or Edinburgh. It is not good for business either. It appears that TPE have no plans to reinstate services to Scotland after electrification. They are based in Manchester so this explains why. Manchester will always feather their own nest. Note that Glasgow City Council want Liverpool reinstated.

Iain   15/12/2014 at 21:03

I would have thought that TPE would be interested in re-introducing the service from Liverpool to Glasgow, or even Edinburgh, as it would strengthen their hand when franchise renegotiation time comes around. If they are not interested, then maybe a bidder (Virgin?) could take the whole Northern network off them.

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