New TransPennine Express franchise launches

01 Apr 2016

TransPennine Express (TPE) has taken over the reins of intercity rail operations in the North and Scotland. Over the next seven years TPE will oversee an investment of more than £500m which will transform rail services across the North of England and Scotland. This investment will lead to an 80 per cent rise in capacity at the busiest times of the day and increase connections between the largest cities in the North and Scotland by 55 per cent by 2019.

220 brand new carriages will be introduced by 2020, providing an additional 13m seats a year which is enough to fill Old Trafford stadium more than 150 times. These state of the art trains, all with capabilities of going 125 mph, will be more reliable with more seats and luggage space, with the first new trains to be delivered by Spring 2018. Journey times will be reduced as the benefits of these new high speed trains and the Government’s investment in electrification is realised. The remaining carriages will undergo a £20-million-plus refurbishment scheme to bring them up to the same standard.

During the franchise TPE will introduce a timetable that gives the same level of service at weekends as on weekdays, reflecting the changing nature of work and leisure travel needs. Pioneering fares will be introduced, including half price travel for jobseekers and 16-18 year olds, as well as further discounted travel for groups.

From today TPE will run 19 of the region’s railway stations and will invest more than £18m to further develop these transport hubs. Customer information at stations and via websites and mobile apps will be improved.

 Managing Director Leo Goodwin said:

 “This new franchise will lead to a complete overhaul of train travel in the North and Scotland. Over the next four years the customer experience on our services will be reimagined with improved catering, more seats, faster trains, innovative ticketing systems and improved journey times.

“While some things will take time to implement, customers will notice some changes immediately. The catering across our services will begin to improve from today, while the refurbishment of our Class 185 rolling stock will start later this year. We are also committed to improving our response to delays and cancellations, with an automatic delay repay system implemented within 12 months and Wi-Fi at all TPE stations in 2017.

“We will be working hard over the next four years to achieve these major changes and create an outstanding intercity rail service that will take the North further.”

The franchise change over follows the December announcement from the Department for Transport that FirstGroup would take full ownership of the operator until at least 2023. FirstGroup operated the previous franchise as majority partner with Keolis from 2004, increasing passenger numbers from 13m to 29m in that time. As sole operator of the new franchise FirstGroup will continue that success. 


Key benefits of the new TransPennine Express franchise:


New and improved trains

  • 44 new state of the art intercity trains, 220 new carriages introduced by 2019
  • Fleet size increases by two-thirds, with over 70% of it new
  • Existing trains all fully refurbished.


More capacity

  • 20,000 extra peak seats per day giving an 80% increase into five largest cities in the North; with 13 million more seats across our timetable each year by 2019
  • More than double existing capacity on Sundays.


New and better connections

  • 55% increase in TransPennine Express connections between seven largest cities on the network by 2019
  • New 125mph rolling stock supporting reductions in journey time across the region
  • Direct trains from Newcastle to/from Manchester Airport reinstated in December 2016 with two trains per hour service to Newcastle in December 2017
  • New direct services from Liverpool to Glasgow from December 2018
  • Extension of TransPennine Express services beyond Newcastle to Edinburgh from December 2019
  • 16 additional services per day from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Manchester by 2019
  • Six trains an hour between Manchester and Leeds every hour – over 100 services a day
  • Weekend services at similar frequency to weekdays
  • More early and late trains supporting the economic development of the region
  • An integrated network with better connections with local rail, bus and light rail
  • 13 new destinations served including St Helens and Morpeth added to the TransPennine Express network from 2017 and 2019, respectively. Both gaining new hourly direct links to Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and York.


Modern, flexible and value for money ticketing

  • Paperless tickets via mobile, available on all routes and for bus/rail journeys
  • Enabling Smart in the North – integrated ticketing with local smart card schemes
  • More through ticketing with bus, Manchester Metrolink and other tram or light rail systems
  • Discounted fares available for 16-18 year olds and for job-seekers
  • Online direct debit season ticket purchase and further group travel discounts
  • Bookings available up to 26 weeks in advance for Anglo-Scottish services
  • Delay Repay when things go wrong; automatic compensation for registered customers.


Better connected, better informed, better customer experience

  • Free Wi-Fi on Anglo-Scottish services and at all stations by summer 2017
  • Free Wi-Fi on all trains by July 2018 with free TV programmes and films on demand
  • Improved on-board catering, and plugs and USB ports accessible at every seat
  • Real-time passenger information screens on all trains by April 2019
  • New mobile app with journey planner; real-time seat availability on the app and website
  • 24/7 social media team; hearing loops on every train; cycle storage on board.


Station improvements

  • Total of £18m invested in stations across the franchise (19 stations in all)
  • £2.8m investment in customer information systems at stations
  • £1.4m Hull station retail development
  • New or improved ticket offices at Manchester Airport, Huddersfield and Hull
  • Extra car parking spaces and additional cycle parking
  • Improved customer facilities at stations including Click & Collect.


Community and sustainability benefits

  • 30% reduction in train carbon emissions
  • 31% reduction in non-traction energy use
  • 90% of waste to be recycled or prepared for re-use (from 2018)
  • A Living Wage employer, covering all of our employees and contracted staff
  • Dedicated fund to help small businesses grow through innovative use of our stations
  • £29m of funding to support customer and community identified improvements in the franchise.


For details of the benefits by region please see here for further detail.


Media Contact Details:

0161 228 8475



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