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TransPennine franchise award welcomed

Published 09 December 2015 by Colin Howden

The winner of the TransPennine Express franchise has been announced as First Group – they will operate the new franchise alone – not in partnership with Keolis as was the case for the previous franchise. The franchise will run from April 2016 to March 2023.

We will be looking into the details of the new franchise in more detail – but our initial view is that the franchise award appears to be delivered most of the items that we had called for in our consultation response to the DfT.

Paul Tetlaw, Transform Scotland’s rail campaigner, said:

“The winning bid promises 44 new 125 mph trains with 220 carriages in total. This replaces the entire fleet apart from some of the class 185 diesels which will be kept. There is speculation that the new trains will be supplied by Hitachi – similar to the AT300 bi-mode trains ordered by Great Western Railway. First will pay a premium of £400m over the life of the franchise.

“The new franchise promises new direct trains from Liverpool to Glasgow from December 2018 and the extension of Newcastle trains via Morpeth to Edinburgh on an hourly basis from December 2019. Also additional trains from Manchester to Edinburgh and Glasgow are promised from December 2017 with the Glasgow services making stops at Motherwell.

“Additionally free Wi-Fi will be available on all trains from the middle of 2018 and the franchise will support the roll-out of Oyster style ticketing across the ‘North’. This appears to deliver much of what we asked for but at the moment we await full details of the new franchise.

“It is interesting to note that this appears to grant yet more train paths on the ECML so I’d be very surprised if either of the Open Access applications are now granted – indeed First may well withdraw their application – time (and the ORR) will tell.

“This appears to deliver all that we asked for in our response to the consultation – and more.”