PASSENGERS were promised a transformation in their journeys today as the winning companies in the competitions to run rail services in and out of Leeds were announced.
Arriva Rail was awarded the Northern franchise covering the majority of local services while FirstGroup will run Transpennine Express services connecting Leeds to cities in the North-West, Newcastle and the Yorkshire coast.
Ministers said the deals would see £1.2 billion invested in services including 500 new carriages and the phasing out of Pacer trains, branded “buses on rails” by commuters.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We promised passengers across Yorkshire and the Humber a world class rail service that would make the Northern Powerhouse a reality – and I’m delighted that we have found two operators that will deliver exactly that.”
Arriva is promising new services connecting Leeds to Harrogate, Bradford and Lancaster as well as more staff on stations used by the city’s commuters.
Chris Burchell, managing director of Arriva’s UK Trains division, said: “We are proud to be given the opportunity to transform rail travel for passengers in the north of England and to work closely with our partners to connect towns, cities and communities like never before.
“We will be investing more than £1 billion to deliver a step-change in quality for customers and dramatically improving services, stations, information and ticketing. Our aim is to be the communities’ local railway and to leave a positive lasting legacy for the north of England.”
First will bring in 220 new carriages on the Transpennine services including new longer trains between Scarborough, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.
There will also be extra services between Leeds and Hull and on the Newcastle, York, Leeds, Manchester route.
Tim O’Toole, chief executive of FirstGroup, said: “Our new TransPennine Express franchise will deliver faster and more frequent intercity train services between the north’s major towns and cities and we are excited to help the government achieve its vision for a Northern Powerhouse. Our plans include investment in new and refurbished trains on every part of the network, with millions more seats available, free Wi-Fi and simpler smart and mobile ticketing, allowing us to build on the success we have had over the past 11 years, in which we have more than doubled passenger journeys on the network.
“We will work with local authorities, customers and community groups to give them a real stake in the future of their intercity rail travel. The new TransPennine Express will connect the north and keep people moving and communities prospering across the region.”