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UK rail operator Northern Rail has entered into an agreement with the Department for Transport (DfT) to launch the first set of electric trains in the north-west from December.

The move comes after the recent direct award from DfT to Northern Rail for operating rail services across the north of England, until February 2016.

The new four carriage electric trains will operate between Liverpool and Manchester through Newton le Willows on the newly electrified route, as part of the £400m north-west electrification programme.

UK Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said: "These electric trains will mean cleaner, quicker and more reliable journeys for thousands more passengers between Manchester and Liverpool, driving forward the economies of these two great cities.

"These electric trains will bring much needed extra capacity, more reliable and sustainable journeys."

"In addition, the deal will provide extra capacity to Bolton and see a passenger train running on the Todmorden Curve for the first time in more than 40 years. I look forward to further improvements as more trains are introduced."

The remaining set of trains will enter into operational service in 2015. The launch is expected to create new crew and maintenance jobs.

Northern Rail managing director Alex Hynes said: "This is fantastic news for our customers. These electric trains will bring much needed extra capacity, more reliable and sustainable journeys.

"This is the first step to unlocking more capacity for customers across the north of England. We’re committed to continuing our work with our partners to campaign for more trains, better trains and electric trains for our customers."

Image: Northern announces electric trains for north-west asset 1. Photo: courtesy of Northern Rail.