Consultation on future of North-East rail service

The Northern Echo: WAY AHEAD:  A train arrives in Darlington WAY AHEAD: A train arrives in Darlington

A CONSULTATION on the future of the region's rail service has been launched by the Government.

Rail passengers are being asked what improvements they want to see as ministers consider how the Northern and TransPennine franchises can best make use of the £1bn investment being rolled out across the network.

Routes across the region will benefit from electrification and upgrades over the next five years.

The Governments claims the investment will pave the way for up to 700 extra trains every day and 44 million additional passengers a year.

According to officials, this will mean better journeys, improved connections and more modern trains for passengers and business commuters across the north of England.

To ensure that both franchises are best placed to meet the demands of passengers, the Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation into the future of rail services across the region.

Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said: “Rail travel across the north will be transformed over the next five years thanks to £1 billion of government investment. That means more seats, improved connections and better journeys for millions of passengers travelling across this region.

"To make sure we make the most of this investment and deliver a railway that is truly world class and boosts our economy it is vital that we hear the views of the people who use these services.

"This is further proof of our commitment to put passengers at the heart of our railways.”

The TransPennine Express (TPE) and the Northern franchises are set to be awarded by February 2016.

In addition to the consultation document, the DfT has issued two prospectuses outlining the details of the franchises to prospective bidders.

The TPE and Northern franchises carried more than 110 million passengers last year across one of the most diverse rail networks in the country.

The franchises provide a range of services covering inter-urban, commuter and rural services.

The Government says rail travel across the region has seen significant growth in the past decade with demand growing by 66 per cent between 2002 and 2012.

To meet this demand Network Rail is carrying out a massive upgrade of the network, including the £600m Northern Hub project, North-West Electrification and Trans-Pennine Electrification project.

The consultation will run until August 18.

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