Train operating company First TransPennine Express (FTPE) is celebrating five years of success and investment in improvements for passengers.

Since starting its eight year franchise on 1 February 2004, FTPE has introduced a fleet of new diesel trains, redeveloped its stations, expanded its network and increased passenger numbers by 67 per cent.

Passengers have benefited from the introduction of 51 modern diesel trains in a £250 million upgrade with more frequent services and extra seating.

Over £12 million has been spent on improving stations across the North and direct services between Manchester Airport and Scotland have been introduced.

Passenger numbers have grown from 13.5 million in 2004 to an anticipated 22 million this year as increasing numbers of people have sought alternatives to the congested trunk road network across the Pennines.

Independent surveys have shown passenger satisfaction with FTPE services has increased from 74 per cent to 83 per cent over the last five years with passengers rating the quality of the new trains and commenting favourably on station improvements and cleanliness.

The company has been recognised by a number of organisations and received 26 awards for high standards of customer service, business efficiency, excellent leadership, investment and marketing.

Managing Director, Vernon Barker, has successfully led the company since the start of the franchise and today praised the dedication of his employees.

He said: "Over the last five years we have made the investment we promised for our passengers, we have expanded our network to run more services and are carrying more people to more destinations. We have managed the successful introduction of the most reliable diesel trains in the country, cut delays and concentrated on improving our passengers' travel experience with dedicated support from our employees."

An impressively low turnover of staff has seen the company's 1,000 strong workforce prove to be particularly loyal with three quarters of those who joined the franchise in 2004 still working for the company.

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