Rail journeys across Huddersfield and the rest Yorkshire will undergo the biggest transformation in decades.
And it’s thanks to an unprecedented package of improvements being delivered in new franchise deals, the government announced today.
More than 500 new carriages, the removal of the outdated and unpopular Pacer trains, room for 40,000 extra passengers at the busiest times, and more than 2,000 extra services a week will be delivered across the north.
The government has announced it intends to award the TransPennine Express franchise again to First Trans Pennine Express, and the Northern franchise to Arriva Rail North Limited.
Both cover services through Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
The Government says together they will oversee a £1.2 billion boost to rail services with new, modern trains, more seats, more services and a host of improvements to deliver a modern, 21st century passenger experience - as well as playing a vital role in bringing the Northern Powerhouse to life, rebalancing the economy, creating jobs, opportunity and growth, and providing significantly better journeys across the region.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We are committed to closing the economic gap between north and south. This deal, and the joint management of the franchises, will bring the Northern Powerhouse to life.
“In 2004, the last time these contracts were awarded, the government did not plan for growth – today we’ve put that right.
“Arriva Rail North Limited and First Trans Pennine Express Limited went far beyond our requirements with exciting, ambitious plans that will make a real difference to customers, and – coupled with our commitment to push ahead with electrifying the vital Transpennine route – will help the region realise its full economic potential.”
Clr Keith Wakefield, chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said: “With services used for over 120m journeys each year, these two franchises are hugely important to the north of England’s people, businesses and the economy.
“The investment proposed will bring new, faster trains, reducing overcrowding at peak times and serving more places more often in the evenings and on Sundays from which West Yorkshire and its neighbouring authorities are set to benefit.”
The announcement comes after a recent report lambasted Network Rail, and said there is still “far too much uncertainty” over the costs and eventual delivery date of the electrification of the TransPennine route.
The Public Accounts Committee report followed the hugely controversial decision to “pause” the electrification of the TransPennine route in early summer. Three months later, following a campaign by the Huddersfield Examiner and Manchester Evening News to bring the scheme back on track, it was announced it will go ahead.
It is expected to create six faster trains per hour on the line through Huddersfield and Dewsbury, and when the work is finished the whole route from Liverpool to Newcastle via Manchester, Leeds and York will be fully electrified and journey times will be significantly reduced.