In its first year in public ownership, train operator Northern has transformed its fleet with a multi-million-pound investment in brand new trains, completed the refurbishment of more than 250 trains, retired its Pacers and continued to extend platforms to make way for longer trains.
It has also invested in a series of new projects and upgrades across the network to improve customers’ experience, including a £2.5 million facelift of more than 40 sites, £650,000 of car park improvements and the introduction of an industry-leading mobility scooter policy, opening up 140 stations across 21 routes to customers using mobility scooters.
Now, the train operator has announced a series of further improvements, including new depot upgrades designed to transform the service it provides to its customers.
Improvements at its Newton Heath train depot in Manchester are almost complete, and there are plans to deliver further enhancements at its Botanic Gardens train depot in Hull. New features, including maintenance equipment, infrastructure upgrades and a wheel lathe, will improve reliability which, in turn, will give customers across the Northern network a better journey experience.
Northern managing director Nick Donovan said: “Our first year has been an unusual one and has been dominated by the impact of coronavirus. We have, however, used the time when our network has been less busy to good effect and have delivered significant improvements across the network to ensure our customers have better journeys when they return.
“Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and our goal back in March 2020 was to get the basics right and build from there. Since then, we have completed the initial refurbishment of our older trains, have introduced 100 brand-new trains and have delivered millions of pounds worth of improvements at our stations.”
The enhancements at Hull Botanic Gardens and Newton Heath are the latest phases of this ongoing programme of improvements at Northern.
Nick added: “Working with colleagues at Network Rail, we are investing a lot of money at our Hull Botanic Gardens site to improve the capability and capacity of the depot, allowing it to provide resilience for our site in Leeds.
“We’ll be delivering new facilities at Hull that will allow us to stable our Class 170 and 155 fleets and provide all the maintenance those trains need. This means we’ll need to construct new buildings, install new equipment and build additional infrastructure to increase capacity at the site.
“By having a dedicated site for these trains, we’ll be able to help our staff develop specific engineering expertise, so repairs and routine maintenance will be more efficient and trains will spend more time on the network to get customers where they need to be.”