McLoughlin promises better Yorkshire rail services despite carriage loss

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RAIL services through Yorkshire will be maintained and capacity on some routes increased despite plans to shift train carriages to the South, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin promised today.

In a deal reached with train companies, all transpennine services linking Yorkshire and the North West will have a minimum of three carriages. At the moment some only have two.

Today’s announcement also confirms that the direct service from Cleethorpes to Manchester Airport via Doncaster and Sheffield will be maintained for all but two occasions during the day when passengers will need to change.

Mr McLoughlin said: “Rail services across the north are vital for passengers and for the economy. By helping people access work and leisure more easily, we are securing long-term economic growth across the region.

“That is why we have worked hard with Northern and TransPennine Express to ensure we expand services and enhance passenger journeys.”

There was controversy last year when it emerged that nine trains are due to be transferred from the already stretched transpennine franchise to Chiltern Railways in April as the result of a leasing deal.

Nick Donovan, managing director for First TransPennine Express which operates the transpennine franchises, said: “A great deal of background work has been undertaken by ourselves, Northern Rail and the Department for Transport that seeks to ensure capacity and frequency of FTPE services across our network is maintained for the timetable change in May 2015.

“I am delighted that we have been able to work together and develop a plan that aims to protect rail services for the huge majority of customers in the north of England and, indeed, deliver some additional capacity at a time when demand across our network is higher than ever.”

Martin Abrams, from the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “This will provide short term relief for passengers using overcrowded trains.

“The Government now needs to use the refranchising of Northern Rail and Trans Pennine Express to guarantee investment better rail services right across the region, including a clear timetable for replacing the outdated Pacers.”

Labour said the deal announced today was only a “temporary solution”.

Shadow Rail Minister Lillian Greenwood said: “They may have pushed the problem down the line, but delays to the electrification programme are threatening Ministers’ entire strategy for rail services in the North.

“Passengers will also be disappointed that the Ministers have failed to address the future of Northern’s antiquated Pacer trains in today’s announcement.”