Wednesday 21 October 2020

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Northern Spirit/Arriva Trains Northern
Regional Railways North East

An first-generation franchise for which indicative bids were invited by OPRAF on 23 September 1996. The contract was to run for 7 years and month (until April 2004).

The franchise was known as Regional Railways North East’ until May 1998. MTL adopted the brand ‘Northern Spirit’ in May 1998, but then became the subject of a takeover bid by Arriva plc.

The change of franchise ownership (MTL had also acquired Merseyrail Electrics) which would be one result of the takeover was agreed in principle by the Franchising Director on 18 February 2000. Arriva's purchase of MTL marked its entry into the rail franchise market but at first the FD was only willing to allow 12 months, and Arriva’s new franchises were initially due to expire on 18 February 2001.

The SRA announced a franchise extension of up to two years on 8 February 2001, but this would depend on the progress of the SRA’s existing plans, announced on 8 March 2000, to create a Transpennine Express franchise which would acquire some of the Northern Spirit routes.

The brand Northern Spirit was replaced by ‘Arriva Trains Northern’ on 27 April 2001.

The SRA signed a franchise agreement with Serco-NedRailways on 19 October 2004, which would absorb the shorter Arriva Trains Northern routes and also those of First North Western.

The longer ATN and FNW routes had already been transferred to the new Transpennine Express franchise on 1 April 2004. The Arriva Trains Northern franchise ceased to exist in December 2004, when the new Northern franchise began.

start date
2 March 1997
end date
12 December 2004

owned by
MTL Trust Holdings Ltd/Arriva plc

legal title
Regional Railways North East Ltd

service area
Manchester/Blackpool North/Sheffield/York/Hull/Darlington/Newcastle–Carlisle

replaced
Regional Railways North East TOU

was replaced by
First Transpennine Express
Northern Rail








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