Thursday, March 27, 2014

News: Northern Rail picks up contract extension


Train operator, Northern Rail, has secured an extension to its contract to run train services across the North, which will now run until February 2016 when a new long-term franchise will be let.

Owned by a 50:50 joint venture between Serco Group plc, the international services company, and Abellio, a subsidiary of NS Dutch Railways, Northern Rail was formed in December 2004 when the parent companies won the franchise contract to operate train services in the North of England until April 2014.

The Government announced today that the contract will be extended and the deal has been co-signed by all five North of England Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs).

Serco estimates that its share of total revenue from operating the service over the 22-month franchise is around £520m.

Northern Rail is working with the DfT to secure the introduction of electric trains to the newly electrified rail routes in the North. Serco and Abellio have achieved significant performance improvements since the franchise began in December 2004, as well as investing around £30m into the railway.

As well as key rail services to the town, Northern Rail operates the newly refurbished Rotherham Central station. Led by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) together with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC), Northern Rail, Network Rail and the Department for Transport, and part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013, the £10.4m improvements have seen the number of passengers using the station grow to over half a million a year.

Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said: "Rail travel across the north will be transformed over the next five years through huge levels of government investment.

"However, I am well aware that there is a need for action now. So I have insisted on even tougher punctuality, reliability and passenger satisfaction targets for Northern Rail.

"We will also continue to work closely with the operator to deliver additional electric trains which will strengthen services across the network."

Key projects include the electrification of the Midland Mainline to Sheffield and The Northen Hub, the cluster of rail enhancements which will result in quicker journeys between Manchester and Sheffield.

The Northen Hub also has the potential to bring faster services to the redeveloped Rotherham Central and an extra train every hour throughout the day to Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool.

The Department for Transport and Northern Rail are continuing to work on proposals to deliver a fleet of electric trains for the franchise, which would see existing diesel stock released to strengthen other services during the period of the deal.

The operator will also provide new passenger information screens at a further 100 train stations and will work to make buying tickets more convenient.

David Stretch, managing director for transport services at Serco, said: "We look forward to continuing to work alongside Abellio, the PTEs and other regional stakeholders to help drive improvements and greater efficiencies - benefiting both our fare-paying passengers and the taxpayer."

Northern Rail website

Images: SYPTE


Anonymous,  March 27, 2014 at 1:49 PM  

£30 million invested since 2004 yet they will make profits of £520 million in a 22 month period?! Surely a good case for renationalisation? This train company consistantly provides the worst quality trains in the country in my experience.

Anonymous,  March 27, 2014 at 3:04 PM  

£520m is the income they estimate to generate, not the profit.

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