A new deal for rail services in the north that will see tough new targets for punctuality, reliability and passenger satisfaction has been awarded to Northern Rail Ltd, Rail Minister Stephen Hammond announced today (27 March 2014).
The deal marks the start of the transformation of rail services across the north, and will help support the government’s £600 million of investment in the region.
This 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.
Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said:
Rail travel across the north will be transformed over the next 5 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 deal covers one of the most diverse rail networks in the country, with routes that will transport passengers to major events taking place during the life of the agreement, such as the Tour de France grand depart this summer, and the Rugby Union World Cup next year.
It underlines the government’s commitment to delivering the best possible deal for passengers. This includes £38 billion to maintain and expand the railways over the next 5 years, and action to cap fares at inflation for the first time in 10 years.
The Department for Transport and Northern Rail are continuing to work on proposals to deliver a fleet of electric trains for the franchise, which would see existing diesel stock released to strengthen other services during the period of the deal.
The operator will also provide new passenger information screens at a further 100 train stations and will work to make buying tickets more convenient.
The deal has been co-signed by the 5 passenger transport executives serving the north, ensuring that government can continue to work with them to deliver services tailored to needs of passengers in the region.
The new agreement will run until February 2016 when a new long-term franchise will be let.