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TransPennine Express - Wikipedia

This article is about the train operating company operating from 1 April 2016. For the previous franchise operator, see First TransPennine Express.

TransPennine Express (TPE)[1] is a British train operating company owned by FirstGroup that operates the TransPennine Express franchise. It runs regional and inter-city rail services between the major cities of Northern England and Scotland.

The franchise operates all its services to and through Manchester covering three main routes. The service provides rail links for major towns and cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield, Hull, Leeds, York, Scarborough, Middlesbrough and Newcastle. TPE also run trains 24 hours a day, including through New Year's Eve night. TPE trains run between York, Leeds and Manchester Airport at least every three hours every night of the week.

The majority of TPE's rolling stock was procured during the late 2010s under Project Nova. These consist of the Nova 1 (Class 802) BMU trainsets, the Nova 2 Class 397 CAF Civity EMUs, and the Nova 3 Mark 5A fixed-formation carriages paired with Class 68 diesel locomotives.[2] These have replaced older rolling stock, such as the Bombardier Turbostar 170/3s and Siemens Desiro 350/4s, as well as most of their Siemens Desiro 185s, although these are still used on some routes. TPE has facilitated an operational shift towards more inter-city style services, although the commuter market still remains important.


Passenger journeys on the Transpennine franchise from 2010-11 to 2018-19, showing a gradual rise except for a drop in 2016 after some services transferred to Northern.[3]

The TransPennine Express brand was launched in the early 1990s by British Rail's Regional Railways sector.[4] It became part of Regional Railways North East and, on 2 March 1997, was privatised along with the majority of British Rail. Its first private sector operator, Northern Spirit, as well as its successor, Arriva Trains Northern, opted to maintain the brand.[5]

In 2000, the Strategic Rail Authority announced that it planned to reorganise the North West Regional Railways and Regional Railways North East franchises operated by First North Western and Arriva Trains Northern. A TransPennine Express franchise would be created for the long-distance regional services, the remaining services being operated by a new Northern franchise.[6]

In July 2003, the TransPennine franchise was awarded to a joint venture between FirstGroup and Keolis, and the services operated by Arriva Trains Northern and First North Western were transferred to First TransPennine Express on 1 February 2004.[7] On 11 November 2007, the services from Manchester to Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central via the West Coast Main Line formerly operated by Virgin CrossCountry were transferred to First TransPennine Express.[8]

In August 2014, the Department for Transport announced FirstGroup, Keolis/Go-Ahead and Stagecoach had been shortlisted to bid for the next franchise.[9] During December 2015, FirstGroup was awarded the franchise of TransPennine Express. The effective date of the new franchise was 1 April 2016 and will run until 31 March 2023, with an option to extend for two years.[10][11][12]

As part of a recasting of the franchise map by the Department for Transport, services from Manchester Airport to Blackpool North; Manchester Airport to Barrow-in-Furness; and Oxenholme Lake District to Windermere were transferred to the Northern franchise on 1 April 2016.[13]


The TransPennine Express routes are subdivided into three operations:

Details of each route, including maps and timetables, are on the TransPennine Express official website. In May 2018, following the transfer of the Manchester Piccadilly to Huddersfield Northern stopping service to TPE, regular services ceased between some of the intermediate Pennine stations, most daytime services either stopped at Mossley and Slaithwaite, or Greenfield and Marsden. Following the December 2018 timetable change, however, regular services resumed between Mossley, Slaithwaite, Greenfield and Marsden.

As of December 2019, the following services operate off-peak, Mondays to Saturdays, with frequencies in trains per hour (tph):

North Route Route tph Calling at Stock Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough 1 Lea Green, Manchester Victoria, Stalybridge, Huddersfield, Leeds, Garforth, York, Malton, Seamer 68,

185 [15] Manchester Airport to Redcar Central 1 Gatley, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Thirsk, Northallerton, Yarm, Thornaby, Middlesbrough Liverpool Lime Street to Edinburgh Waverley via Newcastle 1 Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, Morpeth 802 Manchester Airport to Newcastle 1 Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham, Chester-le-Street (1tp2h) Manchester Piccadilly to Hull 1 Stalybridge, Huddersfield, Leeds, Selby, Brough 185 Manchester Piccadilly to Huddersfield 1 Stalybridge, Mossley, Greenfield, Marsden, Slaithwaite Huddersfield to Leeds 1 Deighton, Mirfield, Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, Batley, Morley, Cottingley South Route Route tph Calling at Stock Manchester Airport to Cleethorpes 1 Manchester Piccadilly (trains reverse), Stockport, Sheffield, Meadowhall, Doncaster, Scunthorpe, Barnetby, Habrough, Grimsby Town

Some trains also call at Gatley, East Didsbury, Burnage, Mauldeth Road, Dore and Totley, Rotherham Central, Kirk Sandall, Hatfield and Stainforth, Thorne South, Crowle and Althorpe 185 Scottish Route Route tph Calling at Stock Manchester Airport to Glasgow Central or Edinburgh Waverley via Preston 1 Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Bolton (irregular),[a] Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme Lake District,[b] Penrith (irregular),[b] Carlisle, Lockerbie (irregular)[b]

1tp2h continues to Glasgow Central, calling at Motherwell.

1tp2h continues to Edinburgh Waverley, calling at Haymarket. 397 Liverpool Lime Street to Glasgow Central via St Helens Central 4tpd [c] St Helens Central (2tpd), Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster (2tpd), Penrith (3tpd), Carlisle (3tpd), Lockerbie (1tpd)

Some southbound trains call at Lea Green instead of St Helens Central
  1. ^ Generally served hourly or two-hourly but there are some longer gaps between services; trains stop to pick up only towards Glasgow/Edinburgh, and to set down only towards Manchester.
  2. ^ a b c Generally served hourly but there are some two-hour gaps between services.
  3. ^ one train terminates at Preston

Rolling stock[edit]

When TransPennine Express began operation, they had inherited a fleet of four Class 170 and 51 Class 185 DMUs as well as ten Class 350/4 EMUs from First TransPennine Express, however the Class 170s were promptly redeployed to Chiltern Railways, where they were converted to Class 168s thereafter. At one stage, it was planned for all new trains in the Nova fleet enter service, 22 of the 51 Class 185 DMUs are to be returned to Eversholt Rail Group.[16] Further cascades of rolling stock occurred over time; shortly following the introduction of the Class 397 (Nova 2) sets during 2020, all ten of the Class 350 EMUs were transferred to West Midlands Trains.[17]

Project Nova[edit]

Upon its instatement, TransPennine Express (TPE) services were particularly heavily trafficked; prior to 2018, the operator reportedly operated the busiest trains in the country, and it was common for some passengers to be unable to be seated during rush hour.[2] Reportedly, the franchise also aimed to reorientation its operations towards inter-city services over its inter-urban routes, although it shall continue to transport large numbers of commuters regardless. As a means of addressing these factors, TPE launched Project Nova, under which the vast majority of their existing rolling stock would be replaced by new-build trainsets with greater capacity. During 2016, TPE signed contracts valued at £500 million with Spanish rolling stock manufacturer Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) to produce the majority of its Nova rolling stock.[17][2] The Nova fleet is divided into three distinct categories; the Nova 1 being (Class 802) BMU sets derived from the Hitachi A-train family, the Nova 2 trainsets being CAF-built Class 397 Civity EMUs, and the Nova 3 sets consisting of locomotive-hauled CAF-built Mark 5A coaches.[2]

The Nova 1 fleet had originally been ordered by TPE's predecessor as part of plans to bolster route capacity by 80%; having contracted with Hitachi Rail Europe for the latter to supply 19 five-car bi-mode trainsets.[2] According to Robin Davis, TPE's Head of New Trains, a major rationale behind the Nova 1 fleet was its bi-mode capability, noting that electrification ambitions often had much uncertainty, while a bi-mode fleet eliminated the operational risk to such uncertainty. Davis also noted that, in the event of largescale electrification being funded and implemented, the Class 802s could have some of their engines removed to reduce roughly 15% of their weight and thus raise their efficiency.[2] Furthermore, Leo Goodwin, TPE's managing director, has observed that while the Class 802s will have an initial maximum speed of 125 mph, they have the capability of being modified for operating at 140 mph if infrastructure upgrades were to permit such speeds at a future date.[2]

The Nova 2 trainsets were CAF-built Class 397 EMUs, the design being a member of the preexisting Civity range.[2] Davis observed the Class 397 procurement to be a natural fit in light of TPE's desire to rapidly increase capacity and CAF's reputation for speedily producing limited batches of trains. While the Class 397 is capable of attaining a maximum speed of 125 mph, it shall be limited to a service speed of 100 mph.[2]

The Nova 3 trainsets were Mark 5A carriages, which are locomotive-hauled and designed for its inter-city routes.[2] The choice to procure carriages was unusual for the UK market, it is reportedly the first procurement of such rolling stock since the Mark 4 sets for the InterCity 225 during the late 1980s. Davis claims that the expense of constructing DMUs suitable for inter-city services was prohibitive in comparison, and notes that it is to be operated as a fixed-formation push-pull train, not relying on run-arounds as historically performed by locomotive-hauled sets.[2] From the onset, it was planned for these to be hauled by a small fleet of Class 68 locomotives, requiring minor control-oriented modifications by Stadler to do so. According to franchise documents filed with the Department for Transport (DfT), considerations have been made to alternatively hauling the Nova 3 carriages with Class 88 bi-mode locomotives, which are closely related to the Class 68; however, this would be dependent on relatively ambitious, and thus far unfunded, suggestions for widespread electrification in the region being fulfilled.[2]

On 24 August 2019, the first new trains of the Nova fleet entered revenue service; these were the Nova 3 sets, comprising a Class 68 locomotive and a rake of Mark 5A coaches.[18] On 28 September 2019, the Nova 1 (Class 802) sets followed,[19] while operations of the Nova 2 trainsets (Class 397) commenced on 30 November 2019.[20] TPE officially launched the Nova fleet on 22 November at Liverpool Lime Street station.[21]

Current fleet[edit]

Past fleet[edit]

Former units operated by TransPennine Express include:

Managed stations[edit]

TransPennine Express services run over large areas of northern England and southern Scottish Lowlands. Many of the largest stations they serve are managed by other train operating companies or Network Rail.

TransPennine Express manages the following 19 stations:[13][27]

Some stations from the former TransPennine Express franchise (First Keolis) were transferred to Northern. These include Arnside, Barrow-in-Furness, Birchwood, Burneside, Carnforth, Grange-over-Sands, Kendal, Staveley, Ulverston, Warrington Central and Windermere.[13]

Depots and servicing[edit]

Siemens maintains the Class 185 fleet at Ardwick depot in Manchester with a smaller facility in York. Scottish stabling points for both stock include Polmadie TRSMD (Glasgow) and Craigentinny T.&R.S.M.D. (Edinburgh). Hitachi maintains the Class 802 fleet at Doncaster Carr and Craigentinny.[28] The new EMUs and loco-hauled sets will be maintained by Alstom, on behalf of TransPennine Express, at Longsight (Manchester), Edge Hill (Liverpool) and Polmadie (Glasgow).[22] During 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, TPE invested £1.7 million into highly stringent rolling stock cleaning practices; these reportedly represented a 70% upsurge on pre-COVID-19 hygiene practices.[29]

TransPennine Express have depots for its train crews at Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Airport (conductors), York, Newcastle, Scarborough, Hull, Cleethorpes, Sheffield, Preston, Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central.


External links[edit]