Rail passengers will soon benefit from new trains, a 37 per cent increase in peak time capacity and revamped ticketing as Arriva, who run trains through Gainsborough, launch the new-look Northern rail franchise.
By 2019, Arriva will have increased services to more than 18,000 each week while also replacing the unpopular Pacer trains through a multi-million pound rolling stock investment programme.
The unveiling of the new franchise, which has also seen 5,000 employees joining Arriva, was marked at a ceremony held at Manchester Piccadilly station where Transport Minister Andrew Jones joined Arriva UK Trains managing director Chris Burchell, managing director of Northern Alex Hynes and transport partners from Rail North.
The Midlands will see improvements to trains and the network thanks to the new franchise.
By 2019, brand new 100mph trains will operate services from Nottingham to Sheffield, Leeds and Bradford.
Thanks to the new ‘Northern Connect’ network, services from Leeds through Sheffield to Nottingham will also be 20 per cent faster when the services launch in 2019.
Managing Director of Arriva’s UK Trains division, Chris Burchell, said: “The journey towards a complete transformation in services for customers in the North starts now.
“Throughout the term of the franchise we will be injecting a multi-million pound investment to deliver a step-change in quality and are excited to now have the opportunity to start delivering on our promises to passengers.
“We are investing in new and refurbished trains, journeys will be improved through refreshed networks and timetables, and our trains will offer more capacity and comfort.
“Our ambitious plans would not be possible without the 5,000 staff who have joined the Arriva family.
“We value the experience and expertise they bring as we link cities and communities across the North like never before.”
Chairman of Rail North, Sir Richard Leese, said: “Passengers and businesses told us that they wanted less crowded trains, faster and more frequent services that start earlier and finish later and more opportunities to travel on Sundays.
“The new Northern franchise will exceed these requirements, with the unpopular Pacer trains consigned to the scrapheap by October 2019, 281 brand new carriages, substantial investment in station improvements and a real focus on involving local communities in the railway. The new franchise tangibly demonstrates the real benefit of devolution of power to the North.”