1 April marks one-year of our new franchise and we’re celebrating with a lookback at all the things that have happened so far – and what’s to come! Share your favourite moments with us over Facebook and Twitter #WhereNext
1. New franchise, new look
We kicked off the franchise with a new look and identity, designed to bring our vision to life. We’ve been busy revamping everything from train liveries to waiting rooms, First Class lounges to our website – and it’s great to hear you think we’re looking good.
2. 100,000 cups of coffee brewed
Small, but mighty, a proper cup of coffee can make a big difference in getting you switched on and ready for your day. One of the first things we brought on board was Lavazza coffee, complete with snazzy built-in filter.
Customers have already enjoyed 100,000 cups of the hot stuff and we celebrated with a unique art installation at Lime Street Station.
3. Supported lovely, local grub
Italians may do it best when it comes to coffee, but you can’t beat an Eccles cake or cup of Yorkshire Tea. We’ve teamed up with local businesses and suppliers across the North and Scotland to bring on board the best sweet and savoury snacks the region has to offer.
We also created pop up pitches at Huddersfield, Hull and Middlesbrough stations for local traders too. Anyone for a Stottie?
4. Sealed the deal for new trains
We’re investing in 3 new fleets of trains and work got underway on the first of these, which will be delivered in 2018. Each new train will feature electronic seat reservations, free Wi-Fi, plug sockets at every pair of seats and onboard infotainment, so you can catch up on the latest boxset on-the-go.
5. You’re hired!
Taking the North Further isn’t just about better trains and connections. It’s about supporting the local areas we serve and giving young people the chance to get their first break. We welcomed 8 new apprentices on board as part of a 2-year programme to ‘earn while they learn’ and get the skills they need to pursue a career in the rail sector.
6. Cooked up a storm with local talent
What do food, music and art all have in common? Northern talent, of course. We launched the Where Next Project and the hunt for Future Stars in these fields, then teamed them up with famous local mentors, including Tony Singh, Julia Bickerstaff and Shaun Keaveny.
After months of hard work, they presented their innovations and ideas at a Showcase event at Huddersfield Station. Check out how it went…
7. A better ticket for those who need it
There’s so much to see and do across our amazing region and we reckon everyone should be able to get out and make new connections. We introduced more discounts and products for 16-18 year olds and jobseekers, adding to our list of great Railcard discounts.
8. Donated £100k to local projects
Charity begins at home and we’re super proud to have provided £100k of support for projects from Community Rail Partnerships and environmental projects proposed by local communities. The latter form part of our annual Transform fund (formerly Green Grants) and will be open again soon for new applications. Keep your eyes peeled!
9. Felix goes global
No list of achievements would be complete without our Senior Pest Controller, Felix the Huddersfield Station Cat. Felix took social media by storm last year, delighting friends all over the globe with her daily antics and life at the station. It wasn’t long before book publishers came knocking at her cat flap and her first book, ‘Felix The Railway Cat’, was published in February.
Felix has raised a huge amount of money for charity, including Fairy Bricks, the Samaritans and FirstGroup’s employee-chose charity partner, Prostate Cancer.
10. Happy journeys all round
Finally, and most importantly, we kept up the good stuff and improved the performance of our trains, helping you arrive on time and enjoy yourself along the way. We love hearing your stories from around the network, so don’t forget to send us a tweet when you’re out and about!