THE Government has announced the train companies that are in the running to operate trains on the Mid Cheshire line.

Three companies have been shortlisted to run the Northern franchise - Abellio Northern Ltd, Arriva Rail North Limited and Govia Northern Limited.

This comes after a six-week consultation which the Guardian was pushing for residents to put their views across about trains running through the county.

Bidders will be expected to show how they will make the most of the government’s £1billion investment programme for the rail network in the north of England, which will provide faster and more reliable journeys, more capacity, better trains and improved connections for passengers across the region.

Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “The north is undergoing a real rail renaissance, and we will be asking these companies to come up with innovative and ambitious proposals that will ensure a truly world-class rail network for the region.

“Building a railway that is fit for the 21st century is a vital part of our long term economic plan, connecting businesses and communities, generating jobs and boosting growth, and we need strong private sector partners to help us achieve this ambition.”

The new operator will also be expected to work closely with Rail North, which represents the region’s local authorities, to ensure local rail users will have more influence in how their train services are run.

Sir Richard Leese, for Rail North, said: "The companies on the shortlists demonstrate the interest there is in meeting Rail North's desire to see the railway acting as an economic driver in the north of England.

"We look forward to working with the bidders to deliver strong franchises for passengers, which reflect the aims and objectives of our Long Term Rail Strategy and the predicted growth in patronage."

A public consultation into the future of rail services in the north closed on Monday, August 18 and responses will be taken into account as the franchise proposals are developed further ahead of the invitations to tender in December.

The franchise is due to be awarded by October 2015.