Fleets of improved, faster trains and better services have been promised with the announcement of new contracts for two rail franchises – including extra Lincoln to Leeds trains.
Arriva Rail North Ltd is being awarded The Northern Rail franchise from April 2016 until 2025, while TransPennine Express is going to First Trans Pennine Express Ltd until 2023.
The Department for Transport announced on Wednesday, December 9 that 500 brand-new carriages will be introduced across the north of England and Scotland, with operators bringing £1.2 billion of investment to the railways.
The benefits for Lincolnshire are:
- Lincoln will become part of the Northern Connect network, which promises around 400 additional Sunday services, including from Lincoln to Leeds.
- Lincoln to Sheffield will be operated by new trains, with a minimum of 10 trains per day in each direction. The route will run through Meadowhall, Barnsley, Wakefield and Leeds.
- Typical journey times between Lincoln and Sheffield will be no more than 75 minutes, compared to 80-85 minutes today.
- Gainsborough, Retford and Worksop will benefit from faster journeys.
- Off-peak frequency between Sheffield, Worksop and Retford will increase to two trains per hour, as it already is at peak time.
- Extra staff will be brought in at more than 30 stations in the Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Humber regions.
According to the announcement, which is hoped to boost the government’s vision for the ‘northern powerhouse, stations on the Northern Connect service will see faster journeys, served with catering services and free WiFi by 2019.
There will also be improved ticketing, including mobile and print-at-home tickets, and discounted fares for job seekers.
In addition, the operators have pledged to phase our the widely condemned Pacer trains by 2018.
Councillor Richard Davies, executive member for Transportation at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We are continuously lobbying for better rail services to improve our links with major cities and this announcement is a superb one for our county.
“Extra trains create new opportunities for our residents for both work and leisure and they also encourage people to visit Lincoln, work here or invest in the local economy.
“Personally I am delighted to see the new trains will have greater capacity and Wi-Fi – it is important that trains can meet the demand and are comfortable for all passengers.”
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We promised passengers a world class rail service that would make the Northern Powerhouse a reality – and I’m delighted that we have found 2 operators that will deliver exactly that.
“Arriva Rail North Limited and First Trans Pennine Express Limited went far beyond our requirements with exciting, ambitious plans that will make a real difference to customers.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne added: “Delivering a world class transport system is at the heart of our plans to build the Northern Powerhouse and today’s announcement helps to take this to the next level.
“At the Spending Review we committed to the biggest rise in transport spending in a generation, with the north benefitting from major new investment, and now these new franchises are set to transform the connectivity, speed and capacity of rail services for families and businesses across the entire region.”