Passenger views on the Northern and TransPennine rail franchises

11 December 2012

Independent passenger watchdog Passenger Focus has today published its research into what passengers want from the Northern and TransPennine rail services  – whether they remain separate or are combined into a single franchise.

Although Government has halted work on new franchises until the outcome of the independent review into the franchise process, the research will kick-start the debate, particularly on the key questions of merging the two franchises into one and the potential devolution of responsibility from central government to local level.

Chief executive Anthony Smith said: “For passengers using the rail network, the franchise process itself is not important. What is critical is that issues with crowding, cleanliness and staffing are addressed. While we wait for the process to start up again, we will continue to work with operators to drive improvements for the people using their trains.”

The research includes data from the National Passenger Survey and qualitative research with passengers on the Northern and TransPennine Express (TPE) services to examine their views of the current operations and to identify the issues that the new franchise should address. 

We found that passengers value the mix of local and longer-distance services provided by the two operators. Services are regarded generally as punctual, reliable, and suitable for passenger needs. However, there are several issues regarded as particularly important for improvement:

  • better quality (age, functionality and cleanliness) of trains on the Northern franchise 
  • more carriages to reduce overcrowding, especially at peak times, and with improved luggage space 
  • enhanced airport services.

There were also other concerns, including access, security and staffing at smaller stations, availability of information, the adequacy of timetables for modern lifestyles, and confusion about fare structures and rules, with notable unease about levels of fare evasion.

– Ends

Notes to editors

Please click the link below to download the report:

  1. Passenger Focus is the official, independent consumer organisation representing the interests of rail users nationally and bus, coach and tram users across England outside London. We want to make a difference for rail, bus, coach and tram passengers.

    We’ll do this by:

      • providing authoritative advice for industry based on sound research
      • securing improvements to services – both big and small-scale improvements
      • helping passengers with advice and information
      • campaigning for change
      • acting on rail passenger complaints.
  2. Routes included on the Northern franchise: Lancashire & Cumbria, West & North Yorkshire, Manchester & Liverpool, Tyne Tees & Wear and South & East Yorkshire.

    The TPE franchise includes: Manchester to Glasgow/Edinburgh (and branches to Windermere, Barrow-in-Furness and Blackpool North), Liverpool to Hull, Scarborough, Middlesbrough and Newcastle, and Manchester to Cleethorpes.


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