The Government's announcement that the current way in which rail network operates is to end has been hailed as a "significant moment" for train services in Cumbria and the rest of northern England.

David Hoggarth, strategic rail director for Transport for the North, was speaking in response to yesterday's announcement that after 24 years, the current rail franchising approach is to be replaced by a more concessionary-based model.

Transport for the North (TfN) is the official body overseeing the improvement of rail and other transport in the north of England.

Mr Hoggarth said yesterday that Transport for the North was committed to responding to the challenges posed by the continued Covid-19 pandemic, and remained ambitious about improving the rail network in Cumbria and beyond.

“This is a significant moment for our railways with franchising as we know it ending after 24 years," he said.

"The Department for Transport has made clear to us that our work in jointly overseeing rail operators in the North will continue under the Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements (ERMAs).

“We have seen significant progress towards greater oversight in the North, both since the timetable crisis of 2018 and throughout the pandemic. Local decision-makers have helped shape operating decisions for the benefit of passengers and this needs to continue.

"These new transitional contracts will help us prepare for further reform as we work towards a more cohesive railway which can respond better to passenger needs as reflected in our submissions to the Williams Review.”

In those submissions to the Williams Review, TfN Members called for the rail industry to show greater accountability, for more decentralisation and transparency, and for better integration.

TfN will continue to jointly oversee the performance and development of rail operator TransPennine Express with the Department for Transport following the announcement of new ERMAs for rail franchises announced today.

TfN will also continue to jointly oversee the operations of Northern Trains Limited, Britain’s largest regional rail operator – not affected by today’s announcement as it is in the hands of the Operator of Last Resort.