THE GOVERNMENT has handed over £15milllion to Network Rail in a bid to improve train services across the region.

Cash will be spent on "strategic improvements", but it is unclear exactly what The Department for Transport's enhancements package for Northern and TransPennine Express trains will include.

One rail users group hopes it means faster journeys and more staff at train stations.

Network Rail will work in consultation with Transport for the North and passenger groups to decide how best the money should be spent on improving journeys.

This announcement comes after pressure was put on the Government to improve rail services.

The Department is already working with the industry to ensure passengers are compensated – including rolling out compensation for 15 minute delays on Northern from the end of this year and establishing a new Rail Ombudsman.

Richard George, the former head of transport at the London 2012 Olympic Games, has been appointed to work with the industry and Transport for the North to drive forward improvements for passengers.

More than 14,000 claims from season ticket holders travelling on Northern and TransPennine Express services have now been submitted and more than £1million has already been paid out in compensation to those who have experienced delays.

Andrew Jones, Rail Minister, said: "The disruption that passengers across the north have experienced has been unacceptable. So I am pleased that the Secretary of State and Andrew Haines have agreed that Network Rail will spend an additional £15 million on an enhancements package for Northern and TransPennine Express customers.

"Network Rail will now work with Transport for the North and passenger groups to decide how best to deliver improvements for passengers.

“Working alongside Transport for the North and Richard George, we are also driving forward with a joint recovery project for performance across the north of England – focused on delivering reliable and punctual services that people can have confidence in.”

James Vasey, chairman of Bradford Rail Users Group, said the Department for Transport had to make it clear how the money would be spent.

He said: “Any money spent on the large scale timetable changes from the start of the year is very welcome.

“This money is already held by Network Rail, so it’s not entirely clear what’s going to happen.

“We look forward to the consultation with other rail groups, but we want it to be as transparent as possible about where the money is being spent.

“£15 million in the rail industry can disappear in a day and we want it to make big changes, like minutes off journeys or better customer support at stations.

“People hate train cancellations and being delayed, but what they hate more than that is not being told what’s going to happen next.

“Is there going to be a replacement or changes made available to them? It’s that lack of information which makes a bad situation worse."