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New timetables and planned disruption

Northern reveals new train services for December 2017

07 November 2017
Northern’s rail modernisation programme takes an important step forward from Sunday 10 December with the introduction of more than 130 new train services to its weekly timetable. This is an important first move towards delivering more than 2,000 extra services per week by 2020. As part of the Great North Rail Project, these changes will improve capacity and better connect customers with business, leisure and tourism opportunities across the north.

New Sunday services include routes between Morpeth and Newcastle, Skipton and Bradford and Liverpool and Wigan. More than 400 new Sunday services will be added by 2020, recognising the importance of Sunday travel to regional economic development.

Weekday improvements include a half hourly service between Blackburn, Darwen and Manchester. The service takes advantage of local investment to add double track on parts of the route between Blackburn and Bolton (by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and Blackburn and Darwen Borough Council).

The December 2017 enhancements will include Northern’s first train to cross the Ordsall Chord in Manchester. This infrastructure improvement will enable a direct train service between Bradford and Manchester Oxford Road station, paving the way for direct access between the Calder Valley and Manchester Airport from May 2018.

The next phase of service enhancements will go live in May 2018. This will see even more improvements, including many that will take advantage of additional trains and infrastructure investment to expand capacity and introduce electrification. By 2020, Northern’s customers will benefit from 286 brand new air-conditioned carriages, with the rest of the fleet fully refurbished, and all of the outdated Pacer trains will be gone.

Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “I am delighted to welcome this significant milestone in Northern’s rail modernisation which is a key part of the Great North Rail Project. It demonstrates our commitment to transforming rail services in the region and to put passengers at the heart of everything we do.

“Across the north, in just a few years, we will see even more new services, new carriages and space for 40,000 more passengers a day, and all the Pacers will be gone. This is all part of the biggest investment in transport in the region for a generation.”

David Brown, Managing Director at Northern commented: “In December Northern customers will witness an important moment in our three year modernising plan as we start to add new and more frequent train services. Our plans will enable more people to commute into major cities, opening up Sunday and evening leisure opportunities across the network.

“On the Bishop Auckland line, for example, the introduction of an hourly service will enable rail commuting to many of the trading estates that operate alongside this route. It will also connect with the increase in tourism expected when Auckland Castle reopens next year.

“This is just the beginning. By 2020 we will add more than 2000 train services, including new late night services and more than 400 on Sundays. Alongside Northern’s fleet of new and refurbished trains and investment in stations, customers will benefit from more capacity, more frequent services, faster journeys and a significantly improved travel experience.”

Councillor Liam Robinson, Chair of Rail North, said: “These franchise deliveries mark the start of a series of significant enhancements to rail services in the North and will make real differences to people’s lives. Rail North will continue to work closely with Northern and our other regional train operating companies to ensure the good news keeps coming.”

The new and enhanced Sunday services that customers will be able to use from December are:

  • Half-hourly service between
    • Liverpool and Wigan (up from every hour)
    • Manchester and Wigan Wallgate via Atherton (up from every hour)
    • Knaresborough, Harrogate and Leeds (up from every hour)
  • Hourly services between
    • New service between Manchester Victoria & Oxford Road via Ordsall Chord, extending services from Leeds / Bradford via the Calder Valley
    • Colne – Preston (up from every two hours)
    • Bradford Forster Square & Ilkley (up from every two hours)
    • Bradford Forster Square & Skipton (up from every two hours)
    • Sheffield and Lincoln including morning services
    • Middlesbrough and Nunthorpe
  • A two-hourly service between Morpeth and Metrocentre, including local stops
  • Two additional services each way between Newcastle, Hexham and Carlisle
  • An increase to 14 services each way between Newcastle and Middlesbrough via Sunderland
  • Year-round Middlesbrough to Whitby service (currently summer only)

The weekday and Saturday timetable improvements are:

  • Increase to hourly services
    • Bishop Auckland-Darlington (up from every two hours)
    • New service between Manchester Victoria and Oxford Road via Ordsall Chord (extension of Leeds / Bradford via Calder Valley)
  • Half-hourly service between
    • Blackburn and Manchester via Darwen

Full details of the improvements will be available on Friday 10 November when the new timetables arrive in stations and go live in National Rail Enquiries (

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