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Tuesday 19 October, 2004

Strategic Rail Auth

New Northern franchise signed

Strategic Rail Authority
19 October 2004

                                                            19 October 2004

                         New Northern Rail Franchise Signed

The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) and the five affected Passenger Transport
Executives have signed a franchise agreement with Serco-NedRailways to operate
the new Northern Rail franchise.

The new franchise will provide inter-urban, commuter and rural services
throughout the North of England, and is planned to start on 12 December 2004. 
It will run for up to eight years and nine months - the final two years
dependent on achieving performance targets.

The franchise agreement includes :

•        Contractual targets to reduce cancellations and delays by over 15%  
         in the first 5 years;

•        A new incentive/penalty regime to ensure the maintenance of station and 
         train facility standards;

•        A more local focus on performance, with monitoring and enforcement 
         based on each of five sub-regions.

SRA Managing Director, Operations, Nicola Shaw, said:

'The Northern Rail franchise is designed to deliver better service to
passengers, and greater value to taxpayers, through a more focused provision of
commuter, local and regional services.  Clear targets demand a strong management
focus on punctuality, information and cleanliness.

'The PTEs, Department for Transport and SRA have worked closely together to
agree the franchise.  The start of the new franchise in December will bring to
an end any remaining uncertainty over the future shape of rail services in the
North of England.  Serco-NedRailways will now take the franchise forward in
active co-operation with its stakeholders.'

Notes to Editors

1.  On 1 July 2004, the SRA announced that Serco-NedRailways was its Preferred 
    Bidder for the new Northern Rail franchise.

2.  The Northern Rail franchise will combine the existing First North Western
    and Arriva Trains Northern franchises, incorporating inter-urban, commuter 
    and rural services throughout the whole of the North of England, including 
    in and around the Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and 
    Tyne & Wear Passenger Transport Executive (PTE) areas.  It will also be 
    responsible for a number of services running from, and into, the Merseyside 
    PTE area.  These PTEs are all signatories to the franchise agreement.

3.  Arriva Trains Northern inter-urban services on longer journeys between major 
    towns and cities, and Manchester International Airport (MIA) services, as 
    well as some First North Western services also to MIA, transferred to the new
    TransPennine Express franchise, operated by FirstGroup Keolis, on 
    1 February 2004.

4.  Arriva Trains Northern and First North Western will continue to operate 
    services in the region until the Northern Rail franchise commences.

5.  The projected level of public subsidy for the new Northern Rail franchise is 
    £2434.6 million (in 2004 prices) for 8 3/4 years

For further details contact the SRA Press Office: 020 7654 6339/6285/6387/6234/6862

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