Train companies have been shortlisted by government to run rail services across the North under the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises.
The shortlisted bidders to run the two franchises are:
- Abellio Northern
- Arriva Rail North
- Govia Northern
- First Trans Pennine Express
- Keolis Go-Ahead
- Stagecoach Trans Pennine Express Trains
The shortlisted companies will be asked to develop their plans for the franchises before they receive the government's invitation to tender in December. Consultation on the new franchises closed yesterday.
Rail minister Claire Perry said: "The North is undergoing a real rail renaissance, and we will be asking these companies to come up with innovative and ambitious proposals that will ensure a truly world-class rail network for the region.
"Building a railway that is fit for the 21st Century is a vital part of our long-term economic plan, connecting businesses and communities, generating jobs and boosting growth, and we need strong private sector partners to help us achieve this ambition.
"The new operator will also be expected to work closely with Rail North, which represents the region's local authorities, to ensure local rail users will have more influence in how their train services are run.
Cllr Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, speaking on behalf of Rail North, said: "The companies on the shortlists demonstrate the interest there is in meeting Rail North's desire to see the railway acting as an economic driver in the north of England. We look forward to working with the bidders to deliver strong franchises for passengers, which reflect the aims and objectives of our long term rail strategy and the predicted growth in patronage."
Both franchises are due to be awarded by October 2015. Over the next five years more than £1bn is due to be spent on the rail network in the north. This includes the £600m for the Northern Hub project, and the electrification projects in the North West and across the Trans-Pennine routes. The potential operators will need to demonstrate how they will use these projects to increase capacity in order to tackle crowding and meet future passenger demand; provide faster and more frequent services; and upgrade rolling stock, including proposals to replace Pacer trains on the Northern franchise. Bidders will also need to improve customer service and passenger satisfaction.