Northern Rail today announces that it has secured a two-year extension to its franchise after beating performance targets for its 2,500 daily train services across the north of England.
The Department for Transport has confirmed that Northern, which is owned by a joint venture of Serco and Abellio, will now run the franchise until 15 September 2013.
Northern has improved the punctuality of its train services from 83.7% in the 12 months to December 2004 to 91.6% in the last 12 months, meaning that on average 200 more trains arrive on time every single day now than in 2004.
Ian Bevan, Managing Director, Northern Rail said: “We are delighted that the improvements we have made to the punctuality and reliability of our services have been recognised.
“We’ve worked hard to turn this franchise from the ‘steady state’ it was predicted to be into the thriving railway that it is today. As well as improving performance we’ve invested over £100million with our partners to provide more and newer trains and improve facilities at stations. We look forward to delivering even more for our passengers over the next three years.”
Bernard Garner, Director General of Nexus, said: “Passengers will welcome the news the franchise has been extended. We've worked closely with Northern since the start of the franchise, in particular on our £7m plans to modernise Sunderland station, in which it is a key partner.
"Passenger numbers on local rail in Tyne and Wear rose last year, reflecting the hard work Northern has done."
Northern began operating services in the north of England in December 2004. The franchise was let by the Strategic Rail Authority (since disbanded and powers passed to the Department for Transport) as ‘steady-state’; this meant it was forecast to carry the same number of passengers, with the same trains, over the lifetime of the contract. There was no provision for investment in trains or stations, but Serco and Abellio set out to deliver more for passengers and since the start of its franchise Northern has:
- attracted 34% more passengers, increasing passenger journeys from 60million per annum to 85million per annum
- invested more than £25 million to improve trains, stations and employee accommodation
- attracted over £80million of external investment to improve stations and help lease more trains
- refurbished over half of its fleet of 290 trains and introduced 61 additional carriages to provide much needed additional capacity
- implemented award-winning safety, sustainability and community programmes
Northern’s franchise contract started in December 2004 and was due to run until September 2011, with provision for an automatic two-year extension for meeting operational performance targets.
Those targets were for cancellations, delay minutes caused by Northern and providing agreed train capacity on peak services between May 2009 and April 2010. Northern exceeded the targets for all three measures. The two-year extension will run from September 2011 to September 2013.