Train passengers in the north of England have been promised “a world-class rail network” as the Government announced the shortlist of companies that will run future services in the region.
Three operators have been shortlisted for the Northern rail franchise and three for the TransPennine Express (TPE) franchise, with the winners due to be announced in October 2015.
The Campaign for Better Transport and the RMT transport union have expressed concern that rail services in northern England could be cut. But Rail Minister Claire Perry said the competing companies would be asked “to come up with innovative and ambitious proposals that will ensure a truly world-class rail network for the region”.
The Government added that the franchise bidders would need to improve customer service and passenger satisfaction.
The franchises connect passengers travelling into and between Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle, and onwards to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Those competing for the Northern franchise are Abellio, which is currently running Northern, Arriva and Govia. The three shortlisted for TPE are FirstGroup, Keolis and Stagecoach. FirstGroup and Keolis currently operate TPE in a joint venture.