Rail investment plans welcomed by county council

Lancashire County Council has welcomed the announcement that new franchises for rail services across the north will see significant investment, resulting in better connections, faster journeys and more room for passengers on peak-time trains.

Rail North, representing local transport authorities across the region, has worked with the Department for Transport to publish a new invitation to tender for the Northern and Transpennine franchises to start on 1 April 2016.

Benefits promised include 120 new-build carriages and modernisation of existing trains, longer trains with more seats, free WiFi on all journeys by 2020 at the latest, increased numbers of services on each day of the week and weekend, plus a £30m pot to upgrade stations.

The Northern franchise will run for nine years with the option of a one year extension. The TransPennine franchise will run for seven years with the option of a two year extension.

County councillor John Fillis, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "I warmly welcome the publication of the Invitation to Tender (ITT) documents for the Northern and Trans Pennine franchises.

"The county council has worked hard in partnership with councils right across the region through Rail North and the DfT to develop an investment-led specification that should deliver significantly improved train services over the period of the new franchises.

"For Lancashire this should mean investment in new and refurbished rolling stock, better train services that take advantage of the investment in the Northern Hub and associated electrification schemes, improved facilities at stations and increased funding for Community Rail Partnerships. "Officers already have had a positive dialogue with bidders for the two franchises and this will continue to ensure they fully take into account Lancashire's needs."