The shortlisted bidders for the Northern and TransPennine franchises have been named, but some fear the competitions will conflict with each other


The announcement of shortlisted bidders for the new Northern and TransPennine rail franchises has been accompanied by claims from within the rail industry that the competition for the new contracts risks “becoming chaotic”.

Concerns have centred on lack of clarity over how the Department for Transport will run simultaneous competitions for the two franchises which have interlinked timetables between cities across the north of England.

The DfT has told bidders to start developing their plans immediately so that it can consult with them on how to prevent clashes between bids for the two franchises before issuing the invitations to tender in December. However, a number of industry sources were sceptical that this would produce clarity

“It’s not obvious that companies would want to share intellectual property with the DfT before the bid or whether that would prevent timetables developed independently by different bidders for one franchise having significant conflicts with timetables prepared by bidders for the other,” Passenger Transport was told. “It points to the winning bidders having to adapt their plans so that they are compatible with each other which would mean sub-optimal timetables and subsidy increasing from what was in their original bids.”

Further complications in bidding for the franchises have been predicted from potential delays to delivery of Northern Hub infrastructure works and apparently strained relationships between the DfT and northern local authorities assisting in specifying the new franchises.




  • Abellio (incumbent)
  • Arriva
  • Govia


  • FirstGroup (incumbent)
  • Keolis (incumbent)/Go-Ahead
  • Stagecoach


This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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