Rail journeys in the
will undergo the biggest transformation in decades
RAIL journeys in the North West
will undergo the biggest transformation in decades, thanks to an
unprecedented package of improvements being delivered in new franchise
deals, the government announced Wednesday, 9 December 2015.
More than 500 brand new carriages, the removal of the outdated and unpopular
Pacer trains, room for 40,000 extra passengers at the busiest times, and
more than 2,000 extra services a week will be delivered across the north.
The government has announced it intends to award the Northern franchise to
Arriva Rail North Limited, and the TransPennine Express franchise to First
Trans Pennine Express Limited. Together they will oversee a massive £1.2
billion boost to rail services with brand new modern trains, more seats,
more services and a host of improvements to deliver a modern, 21st century
passenger experience; as well as playing a vital role in bringing the
Northern Powerhouse to life, rebalancing the economy, creating jobs,
opportunity and growth, and providing significantly better journeys across
As part of the government's commitment to ensure local passengers are at the
heart of the Rail Network and devolve power to those that know their
economies and customers best, the franchises will be jointly managed from
Leeds, by the Department for Transport and Rail North Limited; 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
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 Transpennine 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 west."
Sir Richard Leese, chair 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 Rail North Limited will run the Northern franchise; which is the
second largest in the UK and operates regional and commuter services across
the region; from April 2016 until March 2025. The operator will oversee the
complete removal of the outdated and unpopular Pacers by the end of 2019,
introduce more than 2,000 extra services each week, and will invest £400
million in 281 brand new air conditioned carriages to be rolled out across
the North; more than double the minimum required in the government's
Invitation to Tender.
In the North West, specific improvements on the
Northern network include:-
► Longer trains and more frequent services providing space for nearly 13,000
more passengers; around 26% more capaCity; into Manchester and Liverpool
during the morning rush hour; plus longer, newer trains serving Bolton.
► 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 Wi-Fi at each one. As well as
serving Liverpool and Manchester, this network will also serve other
destinations including Blackpool North, Lancaster, Barrow, Chester,
Windermere, Huyton, Carlisle and Warrington.
► Brand new electric trains on services from Manchester to Preston and
Blackpool once electrification is complete.
► New late evening services on the Todmorden Curve from Manchester Victoria
to Blackburn via Burnley and Accrington.
► More services into Manchester from Liverpool, Wigan, Blackburn, Chester,
Hazel Grove and Macclesfield; into Manchester Airport from central
Manchester, Liverpool and Warrington Central; and a new direct service from
Chester to Leeds
► More services and space on the Cumbrian Coast line, with timetable
improvements to benefit workers at Sellafield and Whitehaven.
► improved ticketing, including mobile and print at home tickets, and
discounted fares for jobseekers.
Chris Burchell, Managing Director of Arriva's UK Trains division, said:-
"We are proud to be given the opportunity to transform rail travel for
passengers in the north of England and to work closely with our partners to
connect towns, Cities and communities like never before.
We will be investing more than £1billion to deliver a step change in quality
for customers and dramatically improving services, stations, information and
ticketing. Our aim is to be the communities' local railway and to leave a
positive lasting legacy for the north of England."
First Trans Pennine Express Limited will operate services on the
TransPennine Express franchise; which runs interCity services across the
region and into Scotland; from April 2016 until March 2023. They will bring
in 220 new carriages, equivalent to 44 trains, providing fast 125mph
services across the network, as well as introducing in the North West:-
► Nearly 4,000 more seats on Liverpool and Manchester services; an overall
increase of 59%; during the morning peak.
► A new, direct Liverpool to Glasgow service, from December 2018, with new
electric trains and additional services from Manchester to Glasgow and
Edinburgh from December 2017.
► More trains from Manchester to Hull, Middlesbrough and Liverpool , with
faster, more regular services from Liverpool to Manchester and Leeds, plus a
new direct link from Manchester Airport to Newcastle.
► Discounted advance fares for 16 to 18 year olds and jobseekers.
Tim O'Toole, chief executive of FirstGroup, said:- "Our new
TransPennine Express franchise will deliver faster and more frequent interCity train services between the north's major towns and Cities and we
are excited to help the government achieve its vision for a Northern
Powerhouse. Our plans include investment in new and refurbished trains on
every part of the network, with millions more seats available, free Wi-Fi
and simpler smart and mobile ticketing, allowing us to build on the success
we have had over the past 11 years, in which we have more than doubled
passenger journeys on the network.
We will work with local authorities, customers and community groups to give
them a real stake in the future of their interCity rail travel. The new
TransPennine Express will connect the north and keep people moving and
communities prospering across the region."
Both operators will provide free Wi-Fi; 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.
The operators will also be expected
to meet challenging targets to improve customer satisfaction and reduce
cancellations and short formations, and to introduce automatic Delay Repay
compensation for passengers who buy season and advance purchase tickets
They will also make £55 million of much needed investment in
stations to bring them into the 21st century.
During the franchises, the government and Network Rail will also forge ahead
with electrification of the Transpennine 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 expected to
be completed in 2022.
The operators will also support the roll out of
Oyster style smart ticketing on public transport across the north, backed by
£150 million of government funding.
The deal will also mean significant returns to government and better value
for the taxpayer.
The government will receive £400 million 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 £140 million by the end of the 9 year contract.
Following the announcement, and in accordance with usual procurement
practice, there will be a standstill period of 10 days before the department
will be in a position to enter into, and complete, the formal contractual
documentation and make the award to Arriva Rail North Limited and First
Trans Pennine Express Limited.
Franchise awards to
bring better quality rail services to the Liverpool City Region
PEOPLE travelling to and from the
Liverpool City Region, and within it, are set to benefit from more and
better quality rail services following the announcement of the new Northern
and TransPennine Express franchise awards Wednesday, 9 December 2015.
The most notable change is the introduction of a direct service; 3 services
a day; between Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow, avoiding the need for
travellers to change at Wigan or Preston.
Meanwhile, connections between the Northern Cities will be more frequent and
there will be improved services between Southport and Manchester, including
more evening services.
While the franchises have been awarded by DfT, for the first time the
specifications for bidders to meet were drawn up jointly by DfT and Rail
North; a consortium of the 29 transport authority areas in the North,
including:- Merseytravel; to ensure that they best reflect local need and
support economic growth.
A key factor for Merseytravel was ensuring that people using the City line,
such as those living in places like St Helens, Huyton and Newton-le-Willows
benefit from similar service standards to those who have access to the
MerseyRail Network, including improved evening and Sunday services.
► Direct services to Scotland. A new direct TransPennine Express service; 3 services a day; from Lime St to Glasgow, removing the need to change
at Preston or Wigan. In addition, an hourly direct TransPennine Express
service to Edinburgh (via Newcastle).
► Improved connections between the Northern cities, with a commitment to
four fast services an hour (TransPennine Express and Northern) between Lime
Street and Manchester and 2 per hour between Liverpool, Leeds and York
(TransPennine Express), as well as more services to Preston (Northern and
► Improved evening and Sunday services on the City Line, benefitting people
living in places such as in Huyton and St Helens.
► Improved services between Southport and Manchester, including more evening
► A new hourly (Northern) service from Southport right through to Leeds via
Manchester and either Bradford or Dewsbury.
► An early Northern Service from Lime St to Manchester Airport (arriving no
later than 0445).
► Daily services to Manchester Airport via both Newton-le-Willows and
► Over 500 new build carriages will be introduced across both franchises,
across the North, with Pacer units withdrawn by 2020.
► Longer trains and more frequent services will mean commuters benefit from
Said Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseytravel and Chair of the Rail North:-
"This is a big step forward, not only in better connecting the
Liverpool City Region to other Cities to make the most of employment and
leisure opportunities to support economic growth, but also in driving up
standards for people who live locally.
I have always been conscious that the City Region's Rail Network is in two
halves and the standards people enjoy can vary greatly depending on
postcode. This isn't acceptable.
The MerseyRail Network is managed locally and scores consistently highly for
reliability and customer satisfaction, while the City Line is part of the
national Rail Network and standards lag behind.
Being part of Rail North has given us the opportunity to influence the
franchising process beyond a 'like for like' to better tailor it to support
the Liverpool City Region's transport and growth ambitions and improve
consistency and standards across the board."
People will benefit from some additions and changes to service from December
2017 when the timetable changes, which have to be scheduled well in advance
and agreed nationally, will 1st be able to reflect the services outlined
in the successful bids.
It is likely to be December 2019 before services that require new rolling
stock to operate them will be added to the timetables.
Robert Hough, Chair of Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership
said on behalf of the Linking Liverpool campaign, "This is excellent
news for the people and businesses of Liverpool City Region and is a key
milestone in realising our wider transport connectivity ambitions. It shows
what we can achieve when all partners in the City region work together to
achieve a common goal and the importance of the business community coming
together in our Linking Liverpool campaign. We will now continue to
campaign working with Transport for the North and the Government for the
very best transport connectivity for the City region."
Charity searching for
angels to help older people this winter
THE dangers of icy and wet
footpaths can result in older and vulnerable people being left stranded in
their homes during bad weather. Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday
walking, is urging people to become:- 'Snow Angels' to help reduce feelings of
isolation this winter.
A 'Snow Angel' is simply someone who clears ice and snow from outside
their house and their neighbours', if they are less able to do so
Becoming a Snow Angel is as easy as equipping yourself with rock salt and
sparing a few minutes at the beginning and end of the day to grit.
Alternatively, you can get in touch with your local Council and find out if
they have a volunteer scheme you can join.
Alan Benson, 46, is a wheelchair user. He finds getting around in icy
weather very difficult and in the past has not left his home for a month due
to a fear of falling out of his chair.
Alan Benson says:- "I had my very own Snow Angel once; I don't think
they even realised. I lived in a block of flats and one winter it snowed
heavily. It was particularly treacherous and very nasty. Someone kept
clearing the outside path from the front door so I could get out. I'm
forever grateful; it was such a generous act.
I think it would be great if people became Snow Angels this winter. It can
make such a difference to people's lives."
Sophie 7, Michael 5 and Hannah Thompson 3 are Snow Angels in their village,
just outside Elgin in Scotland. Together with their dad, Chris, they clear
paths with a homemade, push along plough.
Chris Thompson says:- "The children push the plough about 100 metres
up and down our street to help clear access to our elderly neighbours'
houses. They know how the snow and ice can create problems for our
neighbours and stop them going out to the shops or to see friends. They like
to help me as much as they can to make sure they can still get out and about
in the bad weather. Plus, they enjoy being able to build a much bigger
snowman with the snow they collect."
Dave Taylor, Regional Director (North West), Living Streets, said:-
'Each year thousands of people in the UK are admitted to hospital after
slipping on ice or snow. This prevents a lot of people from leaving the
house during bad weather, which can result in loneliness and all the health
problems associated with not being fit and active. We hear a lot about
the importance of gritting and making roads safe for drivers, but pavements
and walkers are often overlooked. This winter, we are urging not only the
government to ensure these people are not forgotten, but also asking
everybody to think about their neighbours.'
More than 200 snow angels will be recruited around the country to help
communities this winter. Visit the Living Streets
website to find out more about being a Snow Angel and how
you can join them.
If you're already a 'Snow Angel'
or have benefitted from 1, Living Streets
would love to hear from you. Please email us your story to our newsroom