Cross Country trains wins three-year rail franchise pledging ‘new deal for passengers’
Arriva Cross Country has been awarded a new contract by the Government to continue running rail services across the Midlands and the rest of the country for a further three years.
The Department for Transport said passengers would benefit from quicker journeys, thousands of extra seats and free Wi-Fi, under the deal.
Under the contract Arriva will be expected to cut journey times between Birmingham and Manchester and provide 39,000 extra seats on the Edinburgh to Plymouth route.
Rail Minister Paul Maynard said:
We are making the biggest investment in the railways since the Victorian era and today is a key milestone in giving passengers better journeys right across the Cross Country network.
The franchise, which spans parts of England, Scotland and Wales, serves both commuters and long distance passengers and these benefits from Arriva Cross Country will deliver extra and smoother journeys for customers using these services.
Mr Maynard said the new deal would deliver a range of extra benefits for passengers including:
- 39,000 more seats at peak times along the Edinburgh to Plymouth route through Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol, by December 2017
- Shorter journey times from Birmingham to Manchester – typical cut of 9 minutes on a weekday and 12 minutes at weekends
- £20 million government investment in more modern trains
- Free Wi-Fi by April 2018 and 4G for faster download speeds
- Customer services now open 24/7 and a new mobile app to buy tickets and check live running times
- Challenging targets on punctuality and service reliability to improve the passenger experience
- Waiving the £10 ‘change of travel’ fee for advance tickets from January 2017
- £340,000 of funding for community rail partnerships across the Cross Country network.
Arriva Cross Country Managing Director, Andy Cooper, said:
We are delighted to have the opportunity to deliver even more for our customers over the next three years through this new agreement. Satisfaction is the theme for the range of investments we will be making, with better, faster journeys with more seats and free Wi-Fi.
We will also be looking to our customers for feedback on how we can deliver them great journeys, and a strong focus on engaging with the many communities and stakeholders our trains serve across the country.
Arriva Cross Country will start work on its new timetable that could introduce thousands of extra seats across the network from December 2017. It will pay the government a premium of £163 million to operate the franchise from September 2016 until October 2019.
The Department for Transport also announced today that Metroline, owned by ComfortDelGro, has been awarded a new ‘Pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) passport’. The consortium joins the department’s list of passport holders who are eligible to express an interest in all upcoming rail franchise competitions until 2019.
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