Train franchise bids: Hyde MP demands cheaper rail fares as competing companies are revealed

Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds wants affordable train fares for his passengers as TransPennine Express and Northern Rail train services are up for refranchising.

Currently both TransPennine Express and Northern Rail own the franchises for the whole of the north, serving more than 14million people, but three companies have come forward to take over the services from 2016 after a consultation on the network’s future ended yesterday.

Abellio, Arriva and Govia are being considered for the Northern deal while First TransPennine Express are bidding to retain their contract against Keolis and Stagecoach.

Reynolds posted his own letter issued as a part of the consultation in which he said: “Whilst I’m glad that there is a consensus emerging on the need for new investment on the franchises, it seems counter-intuitive to bring in new money and then reduce services. “

He also added that he ‘regularly hears complaints about overcrowded trains, old, poor quality carriages, and infrequent services with regular delays’, ‘people here have, on average, lower incomes’ than those in Whitehall and the Government should take note.

And Reynolds isn’t the only one who has concerns about the new refranchising transport campaign group Campaign for Better Transport are lobbying for better trains, stations and services within the north of England.

Although the Labour MP does agree with the new improvements mentioned in the consultation he fears that the only way this can be done is by increasing fares, reducing services and cutting jobs.

He states that ‘this does not seem to me to be a good deal for commuters in my area who already feel that they are not getting good value for money’.

And his price fears were confirmed earlier today when price rises of 3.6% – 1% higher than the 2.6 inflation rate for July and more than a quarter higher than when the Coalition Government took charge in 2010.

Trade union RMT protested in London yesterday at the Department of Transport, handing over 10,000 cards opposing the consultation.

As they fear it will ‘axe jobs, raise fares, cancel key services and close ticket offices and stations leaving safety on a knife edge’.

The consultation closed yesterday, leaving the Department of Transport, to weigh up the pros and cons along with the companies that have bid for the new franchise.

The verdict will not be out until October 2015 and the new franchise will start in 2016 and with the new franchise due to run for eight to 10 years.

And Rail North’s Sir Richard Leese believes that the triple choice that the Department for Transport has to mull over has passengers’ best interests at the heart.

Sir Leese said: “The companies on the shortlists demonstrate the interest there is in meeting Rail North’s desire to see the railway acting as an economic driver in the north of England.

“We look forward to working with the bidders to deliver strong franchises for passengers, which reflect the aims and objectives of our long term rail strategy and the predicted growth in patronage.”

Images courtesy of RPM and BBC via YouTube with thanks

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