CONGESTION on trains could soon be eased after the Government revealed that it is to give more than 200 extra carriages to the region’s operators.
With figures showing that West Yorkshire has some of the most congested services outside of London, news that Northern Rail would receive 182 carriages by 2014, and Trans-Pennine Express operator First would get 42, has been welcomed by rail companies.
A spokeswoman from Northern Rail, the largest train operator in the UK, said the news was a big boost but said it was too early to say when and where the additional carriages would be deployed, adding Northern had already identified a shortfall of trains when they adopted the franchise in 2004, and had provided six extra trains back in December 2006.
Northern Rail managing director, Heidi Mottram, said: “I am delighted for our customers and employees because we expect more and more people to use our services.
“We have attracted 23% more passengers since we started three years ago by investing in newer trains and improving the punctuality of our services from 83% to 88%.
“Our success shows there is a big demand for rail travel in the North. We are looking forward to discussing these plans in detail with the Department for Transport and other partners.”
Managing director of First TransPennine Express, Vernon Barker, also said they had invested in new rolling-stock, providing nine refurbished trains and spending £250m on 51 new three-car diesel trains.
He said: “Overall the First TransPennine Express train fleet has increased from 139 carriages in 2004 to 171 carriages in 2008, but more capacity is needed to meet current demand and forecasted growth in passenger numbers.”
The launch of the Government’s ‘Rolling Stock Plan’ follows on from a 2007 White Paper - Delivering a Sustainable Railway - which promised 1,300 extra carriages and set out plans to increase capacity to carry over 180m more passengers over the next seven years.
But rail user groups have cast doubt on the whether any of the new trains for the region will actually be new.
(See ‘cast-off fears’ story above)