Extra trains linking cities across the North have been launched a year earlier than planned.
Intercity rail operator TransPennine Express (TPE), part of First Group, has introduced four new direct trains between Newcastle and Manchester Airport on weekdays and five at weekends – calling at York, Leeds Huddersfield and Manchester on the way.
The company, which already runs some direct trains between Newcastle and Manchester is increasing the number of direct trains by 48 to bring the total number of services to 74 a week.
TPE managing director Leo Goodwin said: “I’m proud that we have been able to deliver these improvements ahead of schedule and this is just the start of things to come. In 2018, we are planning to introduce an hourly direct service between Newcastle and Manchester Airport.
“Over the next three and a half years we will be delivering an investment of £500m in 44 brand new trains which will be delivered between 2018 and 2020 while the rest of our trains will be refurbished to like-new standard.”
Ken O’Toole, chief executive of Manchester Airport, said: “The launch of direct rail services to and from Newcastle is key to ensuring as many people as possible across the North have quick and easy access to Manchester Airport.”