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Rail improvements promised for the North

Rail improvements promised for the North

Published at 7:42am 27th February 2015. (Updated at 3:46pm 27th February 2015)

Could this be the end of the line for poor rail services in the North?

Plans to give passengers more seats, more services and a brand new fleet of modern trains have been unveiled by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Documents published today set out how bidders for the new Northern and TransPennine franchises will be required to replace outdated Pacer trains with a fleet of modern trains.

Franchise holders will also be expected to tackle overcrowding, invest in stations and introduce free Wi-Fi.

Nick Clegg said: "This is an historic moment for the North. Improving rail links in the region has been much anticipated.

"These old trains have been rattling across rails in the North for over 30 years; a constant source of complaint which have held the region back."

What the Government expects from the new Northern franchise:

Removal of existing Pacer trains
At least 120 new-build carriages
Modernising every train operating on the Northern franchise
Doubling the number of services on many routes
More services for commuters, during off-peak times and on Sundays
£30 million investment to improve stations
Creating a Customer and Communities Improvement Fund (CCIF) to invest around £13.8 million to deliver benefits for passengers
Free Wi-Fi on all Northern trains by 2020 at the latest

The publication of the Invitations to Tender is being billed as the first step in the transformation of train travel between the northern cities.

Sir Richard Leese, Chair of Rail North, said: "We know from the consultation that passengers want to see a step-change in the quality of train vehicles, stations, more trains on Sundays and at off-peak times, and longer trains at busy peak times to ease overcrowding - and thanks to the hard work put in by Rail North, that's exactly what they're going to get.

"But this is only the starting point; the Invitations to Tender specify the minimum required from the new franchisees, and Rail North will continue to push for greater enhancements in future years which will help deliver regional economic growth by helping people get to jobs faster, in comfort and affordably."

Northern runs services on the Harrogate, Wharfedale and Airedale lines.

Bidders for the Northern franchise have until 26 June to submit their bids.