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First North Western
North Western Trains

Indicative bids were invited by OPRAF on 13 September 1996 for this first-generation franchise, with many services specified and supported by Passenger Transport Executives in Merseyside, Manchester and West Yorkshire.

Commitments included new services from North Wales, in the Liverpool and Manchester areas and between Blackpool/Rochdale and London (authorised by the Rail Regulator 5 March 1998), the replacement of Mk1 rolling stock and 5m invested in station improvements.

The original brand of North Western Trains was replaced by First North Western in November 1998.

This franchise was replaced in three stages as replacement contracts were progressively introduced.

The first was the acquisition of the Holyhead line by Wales & Borders on 28 September 2003. The second was the transfer of some of the remaining FNW services to First TransPennine Express on 1 February 2004. The FNW franchise ended on 12 December 2004 when the last routes were taken over by Northern.

start date
2 March 1997
end date
12 December 2004

owned by
Great Western Holdings Ltd/FirstGroup plc

legal title
North Western Trains Ltd

service area
ManchesterBirmingham, Holyhead, Chester, Liverpool, Southport, Blackpool, Morecambe, Carlisle via Barrow (Cumbrian Coast Line), Clitheroe, Wakefield, Windermere, Colne, ManchesterHadfield/Glossop/Buxton/Sheffield/Manchester Airport

Regional Railways North West TOU

was replaced by
Arriva Trains Wales
First Transpennine Express


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