West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair Cllr Peter Box says he looks forward to seeing how the train companies shortlisted to run the new Northern and TransPennine Express rail franchises will support the Combined Authority’s objective of boosting jobs and growth.
Six train companies have been shortlisted to run the new Northern and TransPennine Express rail franchises, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced today.
Abellio Northern Ltd, Arriva Rail North Limited and Govia Northern Limited are in the running for the Northern franchise while First Trans Pennine Express Limited, Keolis Go-Ahead Limited and Stagecoach Trans Pennine Express Trains Limited are in the frame for TransPennine Express. Having passed the DfT’s pre-qualification stage, each of these companies will now be asked to develop their plans for the franchises ahead of receiving the Government’s invitation to tender in December.
Bidders will be expected to show how they will optimise the Government’s £1 billion investment programme for the north of England over the next 5 years, which includes the £600m Northern Hub project, and the electrification of trans-Pennine routes.
Responding to today’s announcement Cllr Box said, “We have long maintained that local rail users deserve to see levels of service comfort and capacity that match they quite rightly expect so it is good to see this level of interest in running these franchises.
“There is a continually growing demand for rail services in West Yorkshire and York and beyond so we look forward to seeing how the shortlisted companies intend to transform rail travel in line with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s objective of boosting jobs and growth.
Bidders will also be expected to work closely with Rail North, which represents the region’s local authorities, to ensure local rail users will have more influence in how their train services are run.
On behalf of Rail North, Leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese said, “The companies on the shortlists demonstrate the interest there is in meeting Rail North’s desire to see the railway acting as an economic driver in the north of England.
“We look forward to working with the bidders to deliver strong franchises for passengers, which reflect the aims and objectives of our long term rail strategy and the predicted growth in patronage.”
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “The north is undergoing a real rail renaissance, and we will be asking these companies to come up with innovative and ambitious proposals that will ensure a truly world-class rail network for the region.
“Building a railway that is fit for the 21st century is a vital part of our long term economic plan, connecting businesses and communities, generating jobs and boosting growth, and we need strong private sector partners to help us achieve this ambition.”
Both the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises are due to be awarded by October 2015. In their plans the bidders will be expected to show how they will increase capacity in order to tackle overcrowding, meet future passenger demand and provide faster and more frequent services. The companies will also be asked to demonstrate how they intend to upgrade rolling stock, including proposals to replace Pacer trains on the Northern franchise.
Improved customer service and passenger satisfaction will be another area on which their plans will be scrutinised.
Covering the whole of West Yorkshire and York and providing links with Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises carried more than 110 million passengers last year. A public consultation into the future of rail services in the north closed on Monday 18 August 2014 and responses will be taken into account as the franchise proposals are developed.