Faster journey times, longer trains with more capacity and free wi-fi for passengers are just some of the promises being made by rail bosses to Cheshire commuters.
Transport giant Arriva is launching its new-look Northern Rail franchise, which already provides more than 16,000 weekly train services to a population of 15m people in Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Yorkshire.
So what benefits will passengers using Northern Rail services out of Chester and other Cheshire stations be seeing from the £1bn investment?
1. NEW TRAINS AND EXTRA CAPACITY
By 2019, Arriva will have increased services to more than 18,000 each week while also replacing the unpopular old Pacer trains through a multi-million pound rolling stock investment programme.
Within three years, Arriva will introduce 281 new carriages, fully refurbish the remaining fleet and remove all Pacer trains. With more and longer trains. There will be a 37% increase in peak time capacity across the network.
By 2019, commuters will benefit from a 6% increase in peak time capacity.
2. MORE SERVICES AND FASTER JOURNEYS
By 2019, brand new 100mph trains will operate a network of fast ‘Northern Connect’ services. Existing services will also be improved with earlier and later services available on many routes
3. COMFORT AND CONNECTIVITY
Northern Connect services will offer free wifi by 2019, plug sockets, tables, air conditioning and seat reservations.
4. STATION IMPROVEMENTS
Investment in stations will give customers easier access to information and provide new seating and waiting areas. This includes video help points being introduced at 447 stations and customer information screens at more than 160 new locations.
5. MORE STAFF
Forty-five currently unstaffed stations will be staffed and there will be extended opening hours at 54 locations.
Also from 2017, a new hourly service will run from Chester and Warrington to Manchester, Bradford and Leeds, while existing services will also be improved with earlier and later services available on many routes.
Alex Hynes, managing director of Northern Rail, said: “Today is the day we begin to deliver our plans for the exciting next phase of Northern and each and every one of the team is focussed and determined to deliver for customers.
"Investment is exactly what customers wanted and we are looking forward to achieving major improvements before the end of the decade.”