Today (27 March 2014) I have announced the successful conclusion of negotiations for a new directly awarded franchise agreement with Northern Rail Limited. Northern Rail will continue to run passenger rail services on the Northern franchise for a period of 22 months, from the end of the current franchise on 1 April, to the start of services on the new competed franchise, expected in February 2016.
The 5 passenger transport executives in the region are cosignatories to this agreement and are continuing to work in partnership with government on the management of services and the specification for the new franchise.
The Northern franchise serves some of the country’s biggest cities including Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. The new agreement sets challenging new targets for passenger satisfaction, punctuality and reliability, which will see continued improvement in the services provided to passengers, at reduced cost to the taxpayer.
This award is a key step in securing the benefits to passengers from the north of England investment programme, which will see substantial government investment over the next 5 years. This programme includes the electrification of a large part of the network; which will allow for cleaner, quicker and more reliable journeys for passengers.