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across the North, with Pacer units withdrawn by 2020.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."