Local government body, Rail North, will jointly share with the Department for Transport the responsibility for managing two North of England rail franchises unveiled today.
Arriva Rail North Ltd (Northern) and First Trans Pennine Ltd (TransPennine Express) will now be responsible for delivering £1.2bn worth of improvements for passengers under the latest deal.
Managing the franchises from Leeds, Rail North brings together the region's 29 local transport authorities (LTAs) and in its enhanced role will play a central part in developing and overseeing the franchises delivery in close partnership with Transport for the North.
This parallel representative body is moving towards gaining the role of a Transport for London-style statutory body, at which point, Rail North will be incorporated as its franchise managing arm.
The Northern offer includes new direct journeys from Bradford to Wakefield, Sheffield, Nottingham, Liverpool and Hull; and from Manchester Airport to Warrington, Bradford and Halifax.
There will also be mobile and print-at-home tickets available and discounted fares for 16 to 18 year olds and jobseekers. TransPennine Express is pledging a new direct service Liverpool to Glasgow from December 2018
Transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, said that the two successful franchisees 'went far beyond our requirements with ambitious plans that will make a real difference'.
He added: 'Coupled with our commitment to push ahead with electrifying the vital TransPennine route, this will help the region realise its full economic potential. In 2004, the last time these contracts were awarded, the Government did not plan for growth. Today, we've put that right.'