Deal for new train operators is confirmed

A First TransPennine Express train.

A First TransPennine Express train.

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The deal to bring in new operators on the Fylde coast’s railways has been finally tied up with a promise of big improvements.

The Department for Transport has confirmed it has officially signed the Northern franchise nine-year contract with Arriva Rail North Ltd and the TransPennine Express franchise seven-year contract with First Trans Pennine Express Limited.

The move was announced earlier this month but now the official confirmation means the two operators are committed to provide “an unprecedented package of improvements, bringing about the biggest transformation to rail journeys in the north of England and Scotland in decades.”

The DfT said together, the operators will oversee a massive £1.2bn boost to rail services with the disliked Pacer trains replaced by 500 brand-new modern carriages, room for 40,000 more passengers, 2,000 extra services a week and a host of improvements to deliver a modern, 21st Century passenger experience. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:“These deals, which have been confirmed today, and the joint management of the franchises, will bring the Northern Powerhouse to life.

“In 2004, the last time these contracts were awarded, the government did not plan for growth.

“With the signing of these contracts, Arriva Rail North Limited and First Trans Pennine Express Limited are on track to deliver their exciting, ambitious plans that will make a real difference to customers.”

The franchises will be jointly managed from Leeds by the Department for Transport and Rail North Limited – which represents 29 local authorities.