Northern and Trans Pennine franchise changesAugust 7, 2011
The Minister for Transport Philip Hammond has released a statement about various changes to the rail franchising programme, one of which allows the possibility of a slight extension to the Northern franchise so that it ends on the same date as First TransPennine.
This would allow the two franchises, whose services already cover the same geographic area, to potentially be merged or re-organised in some other way. Rumours in the rail industry suggest a north-west and north-east split is currently the most likely option.
Here is relevant section of the Minister’s statement:
I have concluded an agreement with First Keolis TransPennine Express (TPE) which extends the current franchise. The extension incorporates the flexibility to terminate the franchise between April 2014 and March 2015. This flexibility could allow the start dates for the new Northern and TransPennine franchises to be aligned in April 2014, by also exercising the short extension provision in the current Northern franchise. Having both existing franchises end at the same date could allow for these franchises to be combined, or split in different ways. I will be considering the optimal configuration and intend to seek views on the optimum structure from local interested parties. The timescales outlined above will allow for proper consultation and consideration of the possibilities of a radical restructuring in the Northern/TPE area.