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BYERS INVITES SRA TO PROGRESS NEW TRANSPENNINE EXPRESS FRANCHISE

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The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) is to take forward proposals for a new TransPennine Express rail franchise follo...
The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) is to take forward proposals for a new TransPennine Express rail franchise following today's decision by transport secretary

Stephen Byers. They will also liaise with local transport

authorities in the North of England on the franchise.

A new TransPennine Express franchise should deliver a new generation

of frequent, fast, high quality train services between major towns

and cities in the north of England. It would include investment in

new trains - increasing resilience, and improving performance and

reliability - and improvements to stations, including to customer

information systems and access.

The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has been charged with drawing up

the detailed requirement for a new TransPennine rail franchise and

will now liaise with the five Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs)

which deliver local transport services in the areas it covers.

Commenting on the new franchise Stephen Byers said:

'There is clearly potential to develop a new TransPennine franchise

that will deliver real benefits to passengers in the north of

England. I am looking to the SRA to identify passengers' requirements

for this new franchise, working closely with the PTEs which are

responsible for many local services in the region, and with other

local and regional stakeholders.

'The M62 corridor has particular congestion problems and few public

transport alternatives - the government's£180bn 10 Year

Transport Plan is about tackling these issues and providing modern,

sustainable transport alternatives and giving the public more choice

on how they travel. A new TransPennine Express franchise could

deliver such benefits.

The franchise would serve the major regional centres - Manchester,

Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Hull - but I hope that the SRA will

be able to negotiate with bidders a basis for providing additional

benefits more widely across the region. I will be considering the

SRA's proposals for the other local services in the region within the

next few months. Our joint aim will be to ensure that as a result of

the refranchising process those services also benefit from additional

investment and commitment.'

Notes

1. The secretary of state is giving a direction under section 26 of

the Railways Act 1993 to allow the SRA to proceed to the next stage

of awarding a TransPennine franchise. Such a direction triggers the

rights of PTEs to specify services in accordance with section 34 of

the 1993 Act.

2. The secretary of state has invited the SRA, in the light of the

results of this process, to develop a baseline specification for the

franchise which establishes a minimum package of services, standards

and investment, including the provision of some new rolling stock.

He expects it to invite revised final bids from the three bidders

shortlisted for the franchise - Arriva plc, Connex Transport UK Ltd

and First Group/Keolis SA (formerly Via GTI) - against this

specification. The SRA may also identify potential enhancements to

this baseline proposal that can be implemented, in due course, if

they prove to represent value for money and to be affordable.

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