Northern franchise extended to 2016

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that Northern Rail will continue to operate rail services in the north of England until February 2016.

The Direct Award will see Serco and Abellio hang on to the franchise until a long-term strategy can be drawn up.

Following negotiations with the Government, Northern has committed to improving ticket purchase facilities and passenger information systems as part of the two-year extension.

The operator will also engage in talks with the DfT to discuss proposals to deliver a new fleet of electric trains to replace the current diesel stock.

Alex Hynes, managing director of Northern Rail, said: “The next 22 months is about being more efficient and more effective, seeking and delivering new ways of working. That doesn’t mean taking short cuts or risks. It’s about achieving a balance: delivering a safe and improved service in a new way: doing more with less.

“We’re already delivering enhancements across our network; our services are more punctual and reliable, and the commitment is there to drive further efficiency with our partners.

Hynes added: “Crucially today’s announcement gives us the opportunity to start consulting with all our stakeholders on the requirements for creating a step change in rail services for the North under the next long term franchise.”