The Department for Transport has published the shortlists for the next Northern and TransPennine Express franchises, which are due to be awarded in October 2015 and start in April 2016.
The three contenders for Northern are Abellio Northern Ltd, Arriva Rail North Limited and Govia Northern Limited. For TransPennine Express they are First Trans Pennine Express Limited, Keolis Go-Ahead Limited and Stagecoach Trans Pennine Express Trains Limited. The DfT said the bidders are expected to show how they will make the most of the government’s £1billion investment programme for the rail network in the north of England, which will provide faster and more reliable journeys, more capacity, better trains and improved connections for passengers across the region.
The next stage will be the issue of formal Invitations to Tender in December. The announcement has come the day after consultations over both franchises closed. The shortlisted companies are being asked to come up with innovative and ambitious proposals that will ensure a world-class rail network for the region. The companies, if chosen, will help Northern and Transpennine Express through their long term economic plan, connecting businesses and communities, generating jobs and boosting growth.
The new operator will also be expected to work closely with Rail North, which represents the region’s local authorities, to give local rail users more influence over their train services.
The announcement has come on the day that unions are staging protests outside more than 40 stations to coincide with the announcement of the RPI for July, which will form the basis of next January’s fare changes. The TUC and rail unions are repeating their call for railways to be returned to public ownership.