Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Government Says Competition Was the Rail Difference

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Government Says Competition Was the Rail Difference

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Kelly Reporter

TRANSPORT minister Claire Perry said the two operators awarded the Northern Rail franchise had "overdelivered" with their plans.

And she said the hard-fought battle to win the contracts was part of the Government's strategy to provide a boost for the region.

She said: "We wanted the franchise competition to transform transport in the North."

Her comments came after it was announced the Northern Rail franchise had been awarded to Arriva Rail North Ltd, while TransPennine Express is going to First Trans Pennine Express Ltd.

The Department for Transport said the deals would see the introduction of 500 new carriages, the phasing out of the unpopular Pacer trains by 2019, room for 40,000 extra passengers at the busiest times and more than 2,000 extra services a week.

Ms Perry said the two operators awarded the franchises Arriva and TransPennine had "over-delivered" with their proposals. They will oversee PS1.2bn of investment into the railways, according to the announcement.

However she was quick to dispel fears this 'over-delivering' might end up seeing the operators 'overstretched' and not able to deliver on their promises, a fate which has befallen franchise winners in the past. Ms Perry said the submissions had been rigorously costed to prevent it happening. And she said the cash will not come from increased ticket prices as the Government will stand by its fare freeze promise.

"The money will come from the increased volume of passengers," she said.

Newcastle will benefit from a huge increase in the number of seats at peak times, brand new TransPennine Express trains, more services every hour and faster journeys.

Ms Perry said: "I've been to Newcastle station it's a fabulous station and a brilliant gate way to the city."

She added with more passenger spaces available it should bring more business to the city.

There will be a new, hourly TransPennine Express train to Edinburgh via Morpeth, and the new, high-quality Northern Connect service will operate at least 10 times every day to Middlesbrough and Carlisle, doubling current frequencies and providing faster journeys. …

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