First TransPennine Express
is a train
operating company in the United Kingdom.
It is a joint operation between First Group
(55%) and Keolis
(45%). It operates regular services in the
north including services linking the west and east coasts of
England across the Pennines
. The franchise
will run for eight years with an optional extension of five
The original service and brand name TransPennine Express was
launched in late 1998
by Northern Spirit
, and maintained by its
successor, Arriva Trains
. On 1 February
2004, the service became a separate franchise,
also incorporating the Manchester Airport to Cumbria and
Lakelines (Oxenholme to Windermere) routes from First North Western
but minus the Bradford to Blackpool service. TransPennine Express later took over the
Airport to Blackpool service.
First TransPennine Express is one of the few train operating
companies in the United Kingdom running 24 hours a day, including
through New Year's Eve night. For example, trains run between York, Leeds and Manchester
Airport at least every three hours every night of the
First TransPennine Express services are split into three
route between Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds sees four trains per hour between the two
cities. This is made up of an hourly Liverpool Lime
Street to Scarborough service, an hourly Manchester
Airport to Newcastle service, an hourly Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough service and an hourly Manchester Piccadilly to
Hull service. The Huddersfield to Leeds section is the busiest section on any
TransPennine Express service.
Manchester to Liverpool section is supplemented by East Midlands Trains' hourly service
from Norwich and a Northern Rail
hourly Liverpool to Manchester Airport express service (which runs
via Newton-le-Willows rather than Warrington), thus giving three fast services between
Manchester and Liverpool per hour.
Similarly, the service
between Leeds and Newcastle is boosted by an hourly CrossCountry
service; York to Newcastle is also
supplemented by National
Express East Coast
and CrossCountry services.
previous franchise, Newcastle services used to continue to Sunderland. When First and Keolis first took over the service they extended the
Manchester to Hull service to Bridlington, a decision which has since been
service operates from Manchester Airport to Cleethorpes via Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Doncaster and Scunthorpe.
The Manchester to Sheffield sector is
supplemented by East Midlands
hourly Liverpool to Norwich service, thus giving a half
hourly fast service frequency between Manchester and
Transpennine North West
North West services are further split into Blackpool and
First TransPennine Express now run an hourly service from
Manchester Airport and Blackpool.Northern Rail also run an hourly
Manchester Victoria-Blackpool North service.
Transpennine Cumbria & Scotland
TransPennine Express took over the Manchester Airport to Blackpool, Barrow-in-Furness and Windermere services from First
They reduced the number of stops which
some trains made, to make them more of an express service.
In December 2007 TransPennine Express axed the two hourly service
between Manchester Airport and Windermere. Windermere trains now
start and terminate at Preston or are joined to another service
between Manchester Airport and Preston, though the latter is less
common. There is still, however, an hourly service between
Oxenholme and Windermere and a two hourly service between
Manchester Airport and Barrow-in-Furness.
TransPennine Express also took over the route between Manchester
Airport and Edinburgh/Glasgow (formerly operated by Virgin CrossCountry
). These trains run
in the time slot that the Windermere service used to have and call
at more stations than the Virgin service to help compensate for the
loss of the Windermere service. Because the Class 185s
are smaller and have a
lower top speed than the previous Voyagers and fewer trains run
overall, trains are susceptible to overcrowding. Whilst the 185s
have a lower top speed, the actual increase in journey time on
Scottish services is minimal as the length of stops at stations
such as Preston and Lancaster has been reduced.
The First Class interior of Class 185
The Standard Class interior of Class
185 MSO vehicle.
The franchise is operated with Class 185
and Class 170 diesel multiple units
. When first
created, the franchise operated a mixed fleet of Class 158
(inherited from Arriva Trains Northern
) and Class 175
(originally from First
North Western, but sub-leased from Arriva Trains Wales).
In March 2006
new three-car Class 185
units, constructed in Germany by Siemens
began to enter service and took over most services. A new depot at
Ardwick, about a mile east of Manchester Piccadilly was
built as the base for the Class 185 fleet.
A smaller depot,
to provide stabling and lighter maintenance east of the Pennines,
has been built at York and another at Cleethorpes. The Class 185
units were delivered in the First Group
'neon-style' livery. The "i" in the logo of Keolis is used as the
'i' in the TransPennine Express logo in addition to the FirstGroup
'flyling f' logo. The first eight units were sent over in First’s
old livery, and were converted to the new one (see the photograph
at the beginning of this article) using vinyl wrap
. The arrival of the Class 185
allowed the Class 175 units to be returned to Arriva Trains
The Class 185 trains proved popular with off-peak travellers
although these satisfaction levels decrease for passengers
undertaking long-distance journeys and at peak-times.
Despite the 185s being bigger than 2 car 158s, 185s frequently
leave passengers behind due to severe overcrowding at peak times.
Projected passenger numbers will likely mean 100–125 mph 8 car
units are needed by 2014.
It was planned to operate all services with the new Class 185
units. However, weight restrictions on the Hull-Leeds line mean the
Class 185 units are limited to 65–75 mph (120 km/h) east
of Micklefield. To solve this problem and create extra capacity
across their network First TransPennine Express has started to take
on a nine-strong fleet of lighter Class 170 Turbostar
units, 8 of which
were formerly used by South West
(SWT) on their Waterloo–Salisbury–Exeter
. In return SWT has received eleven surplus Class 158
units from TransPennine Express which will be upgraded to the same
standard as SWT's Class 159
units. TransPennine Express have also since received one additional
170 (170309) formerly used by Central
, and numbered 170399 whilst there. The two-car Class 170
Turbostars are being used solely on Manchester-Hull services and
have since been refurbished to include CCTV, plug sockets at table
seats, replacement seat covers and an accessible toilet. They have
also had 8 first class seats removed and had 13 standard class
seats inserted in their place.
Currently (May 2009) a few Class 170-operated services run beyond
the core Hull - Manchester route. One evening service from Hull
works through to Liverpool Lime Street, and a later departure from
Hull forms an evening service from Manchester Piccadilly to
Manchester Airport. They also work certain services from Manchester
to Sheffield to enable Sheffield crews to retain traction
knowledge, and on Sundays they often visit York. Only Hull,
Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly based train crews are trained
to work class 170 stock, limiting their appearance on other
The class 170s are maintained at Crofton depot, east of Wakefield,
but may visit Ardwick on occasion for wheel turning, fuelling, or
for emptying of the toilet waste tanks. However, none of the
Ardwick depot drivers are trained to move them, and thus a TPE
driver has to move them around the depot complex.
Whilst the class 170s initially suffered poor reliability,
concerted efforts by maintenance staff at FTPE have raised their
miles per casualty figures close to the levels recorded for the
class 185 fleet.
As of September 2009, Class 170s now run on the South Transpennine
route between Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport, limited to 2
diagrams per day Monday to Thursday with Friday being all Class
185s. Weekend wise, there are 2 trains each way on both days.
TransPennine Express had maintained an ambition to increase its
fleet capacity by adding an extra carriage to some or all of its
Class 185 units. However, on December 22, 2008, the Department for
Transport announced it had issued an invitation to tender
for 200 new
carriages to form diesel multiple units, some of which are for
TransPennine Express, to Bombardier Transportation
y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles
, Chinese Sourced Railway Equipment
on behalf of CSR
Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock
, and Hyundai Rotem
, with Siemens not included. The
DfT expects to announce its preferred bidder in April 2009 and the
units to enter service by 2012. The invitation to tender follows
the issuing of a Contract Notice in the Official Journal of the
which outlined the scope of the contract to be
the supply of between 200 and 250 new DMU vehicles with an option
for a further 100. The Contract Notice specifies that those parties
expressing in an interest must have the ability to design and
manufacture DMUs which are 23 metres in length, capable of a
maximum speed of , formed of 2, 3, and/or 4 cars, capable of
operation in multiple, and gangwayed throughout, both within units
and units in multiple.
On the 23
July 2009, the DfT announced that following the planned
electrification of the Manchester to Liverpool line, services
between Manchester and Scotland will be operated by four-carriage
Class 350 electric multiple units which are
currently operating services on the West Coast Main Line with
London Midland from London Euston.
This will enable the diesel trains
currently used on the Manchester to Scotland services to be
transferred onto other TransPennine Express routes.
The latest figures to be released by the ORR for the first quarter
of the financial year 2009/10 were up on last year at 93.6% (PPM)
and also up slightly for MAA at 90.6%. These figures are also above
the sector level for this quarter.
- Greater Manchester Passenger Transport
- ORR Statistics