Consultation on the new Northern and TransPennine Express rail franchises, which will begin in February 2016, is now underway.
Run by the Department for Transport and Rail North, the consultation looks at how infrastructure improvements, such as electrification and the completion of Northern Hub schemes, will impact on services, frequencies and destinations. It will also examine how to tackle crowding and meet future passenger demand, deliver a more efficient network, and improve customer services and passenger satisfaction.Download the Consultation Document from the DfT's web site
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"Transport is a key element in improving the economic prospects of the north," said West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair, Cllr Peter Box. "It's vital that the local rail network is fit for purpose, connecting areas of economic disadvantage with areas of economic opportunity. Electrification of routes will make train travel a fast, attractive proposition for business, and ensure that the local network is ready for HS2 when it arrives in the region. The shape of the new franchises will be determined, not just by the DfT and Rail North but also by the opinions of people and local authorities across the north, so it's important that they make their views heard."
"Northern was infamously a 'no-growth' franchise when it was originally let in 2003", said Cllr James Lewis, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority's Transport Committee. "Since then, we've seen rail patronage increase by 40% in West Yorkshire alone. While local authorities have been able to fund additional carriages, such as the 'Yorkshire Six', more needs to be done and it's important that the new franchises reflect this growth and cater for it effectively."
The TPE and Northern franchises carried more than 110 million passengers last year across one of the most diverse rail networks in the country. The franchises provide a range of services covering inter-urban, commuter and rural services. Rail travel across the region has seen significant growth in the past decade with demand growing by 66% between 2002 and 2012.
The consultation will run until 18 August 2014.