Northern, which is owned by a joint venture of Serco and Abellio, began its franchise contract in December 2004 and has improved the punctuality of its services from 83.7% in the 12 months before the contract was initiated to 91.6% in the past 12 months. This equates to an average of 200 more trains arriving on time everyday now compared with 2004, while passenger numbers have also increased by 34% to 85 million journeys per year. Since the contract began, the company has refurbished over half of its fleet of 290 trains and introduced 61 additional coaches to provide extra capacity.
"We've worked to turn this franchise from the "steady-state" that it was predicted to be into the thriving railway that it is today," says Mr Ian Bevan, managing director of Northern Rail. "As well as improving performance we've invested over £100 million with our partners to provide more and newer trains and improve facilities at stations."
Serco has also operated Docklands Light Railway since 1997 while Abellio's (formerly NedRailways) parent company Netherlands Railways (NS) carries over 1.1 million passengers per day. In addition to Northern Rail, Serco and Abellio have the 25-year Merseyrail franchise, which provides urban rail services in Merseyside.