I am pleased to inform the House that my Department has reached agreement with First Keolis TransPennine Express Limited to continue to operate train services in the North of England and Scotland. This means that the current franchisee will remain in place for a period of 12 months from 1 April. There will be an optional extension period of up to 10 months. This deal ensures that passengers across the north continue to benefit from TransPennine Express’ experience of running this franchise. It also paves the way for the new competitively-let TransPennine Express franchise, which will deliver new trains and improved services.
As I announced on the 8 January, my Department has reached agreement with Northern and TransPennine Express to ensure continuity of services after five of TransPennine Express’Class 170 diesel trains are transferred to Chiltern Railways, by their owner, Porterbrook Rail Leasing Ltd. I can inform the House that my Department has agreed with Direct Rail Services Ltd to operate an enhanced train service on the Cumbrian coast line, between Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness as part of this deal.