Cross-border boost coming 
in two years

New 125 mph trains will whisk Motherwell passengers to Manchester.
New 125 mph trains will whisk Motherwell passengers to Manchester.

Train travellers in Motherwell will be able to enjoy direct services to Liverpool and Manchester for the first time - but not for two years.

This comes as the UK Government awarded a new contract for the TransPennine Express franchise to First Trans Pennine Express Limited.

Together with Arriva Rail North Limited, which has been awarded the new Northern franchise, FirstGroup will oversee a £1.2 billion boost to cross-border rail travel.

Starting in December 2017 Motherwell will benefit from nine trains a day northbound and seven trains a day southbound from Monday-Saturday on the Glasgow to Liverpool/Manchester route, with a major uplift to Sunday services.

All services will operate on brand new 125 mph trains which will feature free wi-fi and a host of other improvements to bring the rail network into the 21st century.

Tim O’Toole, chief executive of FirstGroup, said: “Our new TransPennine Express franchise will deliver faster and more frequent intercity train services between the north’s major towns and cities and we are excited to help the government achieve its vision for a northern powerhouse.

“Our plans include investment in new and refurbished trains on every part of the network, with millions more seats available, free Wi-Fi and simpler smart and mobile ticketing, allowing us to build on the success we have had over the past 11 years, in which we have more than doubled passenger journeys on the network.

“We will work with local authorities, customers and community groups to give them a real stake in the future of their intercity rail travel. The new TransPennine Express will connect the north and keep people moving and communities prospering across the region.”

UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin added: “We promised passengers in Scotland a world class cross-border rail service – and I’m delighted that we have found an operator that will deliver exactly that.”