Rail passengers across Lancashire have been promised new trains and faster journeys under a “new look” franchise.
Arriva has taken over Northern Rail services, pledging 281 new carriages and free wi-fi within three years, more than 2,000 extra services.
It also says it will create new through-journeys across Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield and longer trains.
Chris Burchell, managing director of Arriva’s UK Trains division, 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 multimillion-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.”
Unions complained that Arriva is a subsidiary of Germany’s nationalised Deutsche Bahn, so profits would go back to Germany.
Rail, Maritime and Transport union leader Mick Cash said: “It’s no joke for railways across the North to have their services set up for plundering by Deutsche Bahn at the expense of investment here in the UK.”
Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, said: “Arriva has promised to expand and improve services for passengers and we will be holding them to those promises.
“But don’t be fooled into thinking Deutsche Bahn are in business in Britain for our benefit when their objective is to make profits out of British commuters so they can subsidise fares at home.”
Meanwhile the new TransPennine Express franchise, operated by FirstGroup, has been given the go-ahead by government to complete a new rolling stock contract with Hitachi Rail Europe to supply 95 brand new, state of the art train carriages.
The contract, for the fleet of AT300 ‘Inter City’ trains is the first to be finalised by TransPennine Express.
It now has now has full ownership of the intercity rail franchise.