Delay to rail franchise decision

First TransPennine Express will continue to operate services across the North for another year until April 2016 under an extension to the current contract.

The competition to appoint the next operators for both the TPE and Northern franchises, which will transform travel for passengers across the region, is ongoing. The new operators were due to be announced in October but that date has now been put back six months.

Last month, the government set out the improvements it expects the next operator of the TransPennine Express franchise to deliver, through publication of the Invitations to Tender.

This includes providing extra capacity through more carriages, increased frequencies or more services, additional Sunday services and introducing free Wi-Fi on all trains by 2020.

Three operators have been shortlisted to run the next franchise. First TransPennine Express Limited; Keolis Go-Ahead Limited; and Stagecoach TransPennine Express Trains Limited.

First TransPennine Express started operation in 2004 and operates on three main routes across the North of England, providing inter-city services between the North West, Yorkshire and the north east of England and into Scotland.

First Group said it has spent £310m on new trains in the past 10 years and £20m at stations. The franchise is a joint venture between FirstGroup and Keolis.

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