Welcoming the start of new Northern and TransPennine Express rail franchises today, West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee Chair Cllr Keith Wakefield, said:
“Good transport underpins the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s ambitions of business and economic growth and job creation, as well as helping to overcome social isolation. I am, therefore, pleased to see that both franchisees are committed to introducing new, faster trains, reducing overcrowding at peak times and serving more places more often in the evenings and on Sundays.
“West Yorkshire and its neighbouring authorities will benefit from these positive developments, which are a testament to the devolving of the specification and delivery of high-quality rail services to 29 local transport authorities across the north of England.
“Passengers will also benefit from staff at more stations, free Wi-Fi on trains, better customer information on-board and at stations, support for West Yorkshire’s MCard tickets and automatic compensation for season ticket holders when things go wrong. And, of course, we’ll see the end of Pacer units by 2020.
“Train services are used for over 30m journeys each year in West Yorkshire alone. They are a key component of our plans to create a comprehensive, integrated transport network which includes buses, cycling and metro-style light rail services. I look forward to working with Arriva, First and Rail North to deliver a world-class railway to support people, businesses and the economy across the north of England.
The new train franchises come into operation in the North of England on Friday 1 April and mark the start of a £1.2bn investment programme across the region. Under a ground-breaking devolution agreement, the two new franchises will be co-managed by the Department for Transport and Rail North Ltd, which brings together representatives from 29 local transport authorities from across the region through the Rail North Partnership.
Benefits to West Yorkshire passengers include a 52% increase in the number of seats on the TransPennine Express trains serving Leeds during the morning peak, thanks to longer trains and more frequent services. There will also be a 40% increase in the number of passengers that can be carried on Northern trains.
Bradford passengers will benefit from a new direct link to Wakefield, Sheffield, Chesterfield and Nottingham as part of the Northern Connect network, with at least 10 services per day in each direction operated by brand-new diesel trains. There will also be an additional train per hour between Bradford Interchange and Leeds and later trains to Bradford from Leeds.
Halifax passengers will see an additional service every hour to Manchester, Bradford and Leeds and a link to Manchester Airport, while in the Colne Valley Slaithwaite and Marsden will have direct, hourly services to Leeds.
In addition to ticket office improvements, passengers in Huddersfield will benefit from increased capacity on commuter services to Leeds and Manchester and earlier morning services to and from Bradford.
Brand-new electric trains will be introduced on services from Leeds to Skipton and Ilkley, with more carriages on the busiest services and two extra evening trains from Monday to Saturday. There will be an increase to seven trains per day to Lancaster via Skipton, with an extra train on Sundays and an extra train departing for Settle & Carlisle between 1600 and 1900, and two extra services on Sundays.
Northern services to Doncaster will operate using more modern trains and there will be an hourly service on Sundays.
There will also be quicker journeys, on new trains from Leeds to Sheffield and Nottingham via Wakefield Westgate and new, direct Leeds to Lincoln service via Wakefield Kirkgate and Sheffield.Passengers using trains between Leeds, Moorthorpe and Sheffield will see services double in frequency to hourly
Increased capacity and frequency will mean four trains per hour to Harrogate between 0700 and 1900, in combination with Virgin East Coast, plus enhanced evening services.
The additional Northern services to Harrogate will be around 5 minutes faster. There will also be later evening services to Cattal, Hammerton, Poppleton and York and increased frequency on Sundays to Harrogate and Knaresborough.
Current Northern stopping services between Leeds and Huddersfield and Huddersfield and Manchester Victoria will transfer to TransPennine Express providing a sixth Leeds, Huddersfield, Manchester service with faster, modern trains per hour. There will also be a significantly enhanced evening service and double the current hourly frequency on Sundays.
New, direct links
Brand new trains will also be used for new direct links to Liverpool, Chester, Warrington and Manchester Airport, with an hourly service to each using as part of the Northern Connect network.
The Wakefield ‘Five Towns’ –will see the frequency of trains from Knottingley and Pontefract to Leeds doubled and a new link to Leeds from Featherstone, and Streethouse. Sunday services increase to one train per hour.
York passengers will benefit from faster intercity TransPennine Express trains to Liverpool and Manchester, and an increase in frequency to Newcastle to seven trains per hour. Plus there will be extra hourly services to Edinburgh, Selby and Hull and Scarborough.
Over 500 new-build carriages, including 125mph intercity bi-mode trains that run on both diesel and electric, will be introduced across both franchises. And by 2020, all trains will have free Wi-Fi, media servers with on-demand entertainment and real-time passenger information screens.
Stations will be improved, with over £30m of investment, including ticket vending machines and 45 stations that are currently unstaffed stations will be staffed for at least part of the day. Hebden Bridge, Wakefield Kirkgate, Sowerby Bridge, Todmorden, New Pudsey, Halifax and Bradford Interchange will all become Northern Connect stations, staffed 0600 to 2200 daily, with catering facilities and free Wi-Fi.
The companies have also committed themselves to automatic compensation for delays for registered season and advance purchase ticket holders, improved customer service.
New Northern operator Arriva Rail North Ltd and First TransPennine Express Ltd owner First Group will provide much-needed brand new, state-of-the-art trains - which will cost more than £800m - with the addition of more than 500 new carriages. In doing so, Northern will remove the out-dated and unpopular Pacer trains by 2019 and by the same year, the entire TransPennine fleet will be brought up to Intercity standards.
Over the next four years, the franchises will bring more than 140 new trains onto the network, providing space for 40,000 extra passengers at the busiest times of the day as well as adding a much needed increase in service frequency at off-peak times. Facilities at over 400 stations across the North will also be improved.
At today’s launch, Andrew Jones, Transport Minister, said: “Arriva Rail North and First Trans Pennine Express have ambitious plans to deliver a world class rail service that will make a real difference to customers, bringing faster and more frequent services and connecting up northern cities and towns.
“Our new joint management of the franchises with Rail North, coupled with our commitment to spend a record £13 billion on transport in the North by 2020, will bring the Northern Powerhouse to life and help the region to realise its full economic potential.”
Leo Goodwin, Managing Director of TransPennine Express, said: “We are excited to begin this new rail franchise and work alongside Rail North to oversee a £500 million investment in our rail services in the North and Scotland.
“Over the next four years the TransPennine Express franchise will re-imagine the customer experience at every stage of our service and help bring the towns and cities of the North closer together.”
Alex Hynes, Managing Director of Northern, said: “Today is the day we begin to deliver our plans for the exciting next phase of Northern and each and every one of the team is focussed and determined to deliver for customers.
“Investment is exactly what customers wanted and we are looking forward to achieving major improvements before the end of the decade.”
Sir Richard Leese, Chair of the Association of Rail North Partner Authorities, said: “These new franchises tangibly demonstrate the real benefit of devolution of power to the North. Rail North Limited played a key role in specifying tender requirements and evaluating bids leading to the award of the franchises. They will now be responsible through the Rail North / DfT Partnership team for the management and development of services from their office in Leeds.
“Rail North Limited will continue to work very closely with Transport for the North to drive forward economic growth, by developing visionary proposals to deliver radically improved connectivity across the North."