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New Northern franchise promises dramatic service improvement from 2017

March 1, 2015

The DfT this week published the Invitation To Tender for operating the Northern franchise from 2017, and contrary to many people’s fears it includes some dramatic uplifts in minimum service levels across the network … and Walkden seems to be one of the biggest beneficiaries !

Our timetable geeks are running over the facts and figures so we may yet discover some catches, but on the face of things the new operator will be compelled to increase the number of services from Manchester on weekdays from 31 to 51 – that’s a quarter-hourly service during the day – and the Sunday service will become half-hourly during the day, and run later into the evening.

There’s “many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip” but so far as we can see this will be a legally binding minimum level of service that the winning bidder is bound to provide, and it’s difficult to imagine any shade of government that forms after May making such an unpopular move as to row back on commitments so closely linked to the main parties’ pledges to boost the northern economy.

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