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Arriva, which originally won the CrossCountry franchise in 2007, will now operate the franchise through a new agreement until October 2019, promising further service improvements for customers and investment.

Chris Burchell, managing director of Arriva UK Trains said: “Under Arriva, the CrossCountry franchise has made significant progress for customers, so we are delighted to have the opportunity to operate the franchise for a further three years.

“Over the past nine years our investment programme has focussed on taking the CrossCountry franchise to a new level, enjoying national recognition for our innovation and customer service. We have introduced new timetables, extra station calls, refurbished carriages, re-introduced the fleet of High Speed Trains and, using new technology, delivered one of the industry’s most forward-thinking e-ticketing and on-board reservation solutions, helping to ensure customers have faster and easier access to great value fares.

“CrossCountry will continue to work closely with the Department for Transport over the next three years to meet targets and deliver further planned improvements for passengers.”

The CrossCountry network is the most extensive rail franchise in the UK. Stretching from Aberdeen to Penzance, and from Stansted to Cardiff, it covers around 1,500 route miles and calls at over 100 stations.

Since 2007 CrossCountry has delivered a 35% increase in capacity, introduced at-seat catering on all routes, invested in rolling stock improvements and launched onboard Wifi on its Voyager and HST fleets.

The full Department for Transport press release can be viewed here.