THE companies shortlisted to run rail services through Cumbria, north Lancashire and the Dales have been announced by the Government.
Two franchises are being contended - TransPennine, which includes the Lakes, Furness and West Coast lines, and Northern which operates services along the Settle-Carlisle railway.
The shortlisted bidders to run the franchises are:
• Abellio Northern Ltd
•Arriva Rail North Limited
•Govia Northern Limited
•First Trans Pennine Express Limited
•Keolis Go-Ahead Limited
•Stagecoach Trans-Pennine Express Trains Limited
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.
Both franchises are due to be awarded by October and as they develop their bids each of the bidders will need to set out how they will capitalise on the biggest programme of rail modernisation ever.
Over the next five years, more than £1 billion will 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.