Authorities win battle for devolution of northern rail services

The devolution of rail services in the north of England has moved a step closer, with local authorities now formally involved in the renewal of the Northern and TransPennine franchises.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin met with Rail North, a coalition of 33 local transport authorities, to announce the details of the new partnership.

As a result, Rail North will now work with the Department for Transport (DfT) to jointly design and draft the future franchise agreements, implement a single integrated partnership structure to operate services and develop the future aspirations for rail services in the North.

Sir Richard Leese, vice chairman of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said: “We believe that a devolved railway will focus more on the places of the North, their prosperity and passengers.

“The railway has a key role to play in a more robust North of England economy, and sustainable economic growth must be supported by improved connectivity across the North.”

Renewal of the Northern and TransPennine franchises will begin in mid-2014, with the successful operator to be announced in 2015 before beginning the new franchise in February 2016.