Northern Rail will continue to operate regional rail services across the north of England until February 2016.

A decision on the franchise, which includes services on the Airedale, Caldervale and Wharfedale lines, was reached yesterday after negotiations with the Department for Transport (DfT).

Northern has committed to a range of improvements as part of the agreement, including improving ticket purchase facilities, extending the availability of advanced tickets, installing customer information display screens at a further 100 stations, and funding environmental initiatives.

Alex Hynes, Northern Rail managing director, said the deal was reached following the signing of the new Direct Award agreement with shareholders Serco and Abellio.

“We’re already delivering enhancements across our network, our services are more punctual and reliable, and the commitment is there to drive further efficiency with our partners,” he said.

“Crucially, today’s announcement gives us the opportunity to start consulting with all our stakeholders on the requirements for creating a step change in rail services for the North under the next long term franchise.”

Northern will continue to work on proposals to deliver a fleet of electric trains to replace diesel stock.