Improvements to Buxton trains as Arriva take on Northern railways

One of Europe’s leading transport operators has been awarded a government contract to operate the Northern rail franchise – pledging to improve High Peak’s rail services.

Arriva said its winning bid was approved by the Department for Transport based on an ambitious plan to drive improvements and transform rail travel in the North of England, with the promise of £1bn of investment.

Substantial investment in new and refurbished trains will see the introduction of 281 new carriages, the full refurbishment of the remaining fleet and the removal of all Pacer trains within three years.

And there is a pledge to run more frequent and faster services on the Manchester to Buxton line, which serves stations in the High Peak area.

Chris Burchell, Managing Director of Arriva’s UK Trains division, said: “We are proud to be given the opportunity to transform rail travel for passengers in the North of England and to work closely with our partners to connect towns, cities and communities like never before.

“We will be investing more than £1bn to deliver a step-change in quality for customers and dramatically improving services, stations, information and ticketing.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We promised passengers a world class rail service that would make the Northern Powerhouse a reality – and I’m delighted that we have found an operator that will deliver exactly that.

“As a one-nation government we are committed to closing the economic gap between north and south.

“This deal will bring the Northern Powerhouse to life.”

Improvements are also expected on the Manchester to Glossop and Hadfield line, as the current three-car electric trains are ‘likely’ to be replaced by fully-refurbished four-car trains by the end of 2017, said Arriva, and greater capacities by 2020 as brand new trains come in.

Northern Rail said the new franchise holder did not mean they had lost their franchise.

The deal means that Arriva takes over control of Northern, and under a refreshed brand will operate the Northern network, taking on 5,500 Northern employees.

As part of the contract, the company will also be investing in staff, with a commitment to pay the living wage and using no zero-hours contracts.

Some £400 million will be spent on trains and £50 million to improve stations.