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Campaigners respond to plans for better rail services for the north of England

27 February 2015

Campaign for Better Transport has responded to the publication of Invitations to Tender (ITT) for Northern Rail and TransPennine Express franchises by the Department for Transport.

James MacColl, Head of Campaigns, Campaign for Better Transport said:

"These new franchises offer real potential for improvement. At last, the end of the line is in sight for the decrepit Pacers. The messy and confusing fares structure will be replaced with a zonal system more like London's. There will be more seats not just for commuters, but for those who want to travel at weekends, too.

"Importantly, the Government has listened to the tens of thousands who responded to its consultation. It has grasped how investing in the north of England's rail network can help rebalance our economy, and the decision not to ramp up northern rail fares to pay for improvements is welcome good sense. The many years of under-investment can't be swept away at a single stroke, but overall this is a positive announcement. We now hope to work with those bidding for the franchises to make the most of the opportunity."

Campaign for Better Transport has welcomed a number of the announcements made in the ITT, including many which closely reflect the recommendations of recent CfBT-commissioned research:

Rolling stock

  • The end of the Pacers, with all 220 being withdrawn by 2020
  • Building of 120 new-build carriages for Northern's non-electrificed diesel routes
  • Modernisation of existing trains


  • Up to a third more seats, with higher capacity into major cities and improvements to Saturday and Sunday services
  • TransPennine to be promoted as the intercity rail operator for the north


  • Northern and TPE passengers will not be specifically singled out with fares increases to pay for improvements, as was under consideration
  • Moves toward a zonal fares structure for the whole of the north of England (similar to London's), providing coherence, consistency and improved opportunities for promotion and marketing

1. On 27 February, Government published details of the Invitation to Tender for the Northern Rail and TransPennine Express franchises, to begin operating in 2016.

2. Through the Right Track North campaign, Campaign for Better Transport has actively promoted major investment in the north of England's rail network. The benefits of this approach are set out in detail in the report Stepping Stones to a rebalanced economy.


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