Stagecoach and Virgin have been announced as the successful bidder for the East Coast Mainline rail franchise, due to start from March 2015.
Responding to the Department for Transport announcement, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair Cllr Peter Box said, “The Leeds City Region Strategic Economic Plan makes clear that good connectivity with London is vital to our economy so I welcome Stagecoach and Virgin’s plans to run more frequent trains between West Yorkshire and the capital, additional trains to Bradford, Shipley and Harrogate and new links to Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
“Planned Government investment in the East Coast Mainline infrastructure and brand new rolling stock for the franchise to be delivered by 2018 is also good news for the City region and for passengers.”
Combined Authority Transport Committee Chair, Cllr James Lewis said, “As part of the bidding process we have discussed the development of a new East Leeds Parkway station and investment in Bradford’s Forster Square station with the Stagecoach and Virgin and I now look forward to seeing details of their final proposals.
“Announcing the award of the franchise, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the government is putting passengers at the heart of the service, so I look forward to seeing how Stagecoach and Virgin are going to provide the high-quality reliable and punctual services that people in West Yorkshire expect and deserve.”
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This is a fantastic deal for passengers and for staff on this vital route. It gives passengers more seats, more services and new trains."
All East Coast Mainline passengers will benefit from an upgrade to existing train interiors, due to be completed by 2017, and new, Hitachi high-speed Intercity Express trains will be introduced from 2020.
The introduction of the new trains will mean Leeds passengers will benefit from an additional five daily services to and from London regular journey times of two hours. Passengers at Wakefield Westgate will see improved journey times to London, extra cycle parking spaces from July 2017 and open-plan ticketing making staff more visible from 2018.
From 2019, Bradford Forster Square, Shipley and Horsforth will see an additional 12 trains to and from London per day, while Dewsbury and Huddersfield will see one daily service to and from the capital.