TPE completes new fleet procurement with 25 CAF trains

TransPennine Express (TPE) has followed in the footsteps of Arriva and ordered 25 five-carriage trains from Spanish manufacturer CAF, adding to the operator’s existing deal for a 19-train Hitachi fleet.

Following a procurement process in which no UK manufacturer took part in tendering, TPE settled for 12 five-carriage Civity UK InterCity electric trains financed by Eversholt Rail, and 13 sets of five-car InterCity carriages financed by Beacon Rail Leasing.

The new £230m fleet, which will provide an extra 13 million seats a year, will be delivered during 2018 and 2019.

The Class 68 diesel locos that will haul the new InterCity carriages between Liverpool and Newcastle are owned by Beacon Rail and will be leased from Direct Rail Services (DRS). Most of these Class 68s are already built, meaning they can be deployed quickly.

The operator also noted: "The carriages will provide a high quality travelling experience, and they are much quieter than other trains as there are no under floor engines. The carriages will also provide flexibility in that they could alternatively be used with an electric locomotive once the route between Manchester and Leeds is electrified."

Together with the 19 AT300s the TOC ordered in March, just one day ahead of its franchise kicking off, the CAF deal will help add 44 new “state-of-the-art” trains to TPE’s current fleet, more than doubling the capacity on all intercity routes across the north and into Scotland.

The vast majority of services will operate with at least five carriages instead of the current three, but the 12 EMUs can be operated as 10-car formations to provide more seats at peak times and during busy events.

The five-car diesel trains will have 287 seats compared to the 181 seats on the Class 185 trains they will replace, providing a 60% capacity uplift. The EMUs will each have 286 seats compared to the 206 seats on the Class 350s they are replacing, providing a 40% uplift. 

The operator’s managing director, Leo Goodwin said: “This is great news for our customers and we are delighted to have concluded the deals that will bring much needed and much wanted extra carriages across our network.

“This will enable us to transform the customer experience over the life of our franchise and our three new train fleets will form a key part of this improvement.”

CAF, which already provides trains for other European operators and is currently building fleets for the new Northern franchise and the Caledonian Sleeper, will provide technical support and spares for both fleets.

Maintenance will be handled by Alstom at its facilities in Longsight (Manchester), Edge Hill (Liverpool), and Polmadie (Glasgow). The company, which received planning permission for a new training academy last week, said the contract will help deliver another 25 permanent jobs and a “whole host of training and apprenticeship opportunities”.

CAF’s international commercial director for Western Europe, Antonio Campos, commented: “I am delighted to work with FirstGroup to provide new modern and comfortable trains for the North of England.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for CAF to strengthen its presence in this region and consolidate its position as one of the leading manufacturers of trains for the UK market.”

Campos’ colleague Richard Garner, CAF’s business development director for UK and Ireland, added that the order reinforces the manufacturer’s presence in the north and helps directly support the economy of the Northern Powerhouse through the creation of 50 new jobs.

“CAF will invest in a new central logistics hub and as an established supplier into the UK market; CAF now has a solid economic basis for further increasing its footprint in the UK,” said Garner.

New trains for the North and Scotland 1

Train specs, routes and replacements

The new EMUs will allow services to operate at speeds of up to 125mph, while the loco-hauled carriages will initially operate at 100mph in line with maximum line speeds on the routes TPE will deploy them. As the infrastructure is electrified, the operator will have the capability to run both fleets at 125mph.

Each set of carriages will include a vehicle with a driving cab, meaning they can be used in ‘push-pull’ mode for maximum operational flexibility, TPE said.

This was especially welcome by Cllr Liam Robinson, chair of the Rail North Ltd board, who said the north needs a “modern, high-quality rail service” to support its long-term economic growth.

“We need a lot more capacity with new routes and additional journey opportunities, seven days a week. Passengers want an end to overcrowding and an improved travel experience,” he added. “This commitment from TPE to introduce another, much needed, 25 brand new trains will help to deliver on these requirements.”

From their initial introduction in the spring of 2018, the new trains will initially run between Liverpool Lime Street and Newcastle. Later that year, some of them will begin running to and from Scarborough.

Once the Hitachi AT300 fleet arrives in December 2019, the intercity carriages will then be transferred to routes from Liverpool and Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough and Scarborough services.

As well as introducing new carriages, TPE is also pledging that every train on its network will boast free wi-fi, media servers allowing customers to stream films and entertainment, advanced on-board customer information, modern interiors, air conditioning and power sockets in every seat – as originally promised when FirstGroup landed the franchise last year.

Meanwhile, TPE's remaining rolling stock will be phased out at different times. The Class 170s will be retained until July this year, and the Class 350s will remain until 2019, benefitting from wi-fi upgrades until then. While the Class 185s will be partly replaced by the loco-hauled trains, TPE will still keep 29 of these trains which will eventually undergo a £20m refurbishment programme due to start in late 2016 and finish by mid-2018.


Lutz   23/05/2016 at 10:31

Went with the cheaper option, as was anticipated.

David   23/05/2016 at 17:14

More foreign built trains

Duncan   23/05/2016 at 19:04

Decent trains. However I fail to see how these are going to allow replacement of Class 350's on Anglo Scottish Services and provide the promised 125mph service. Tilt would be required for such a service and unless I've fallen into a parallel universe neither Civity emu's not this coaching stock is cable of tilting.

Huguenot   24/05/2016 at 11:06

Duncan, non-tilt 125mph is available on the ECML and there are stretches of the WCML where at least 110mph is permissible. The choice of loco-hauled sets is interesting and against the current trend. TPE could have saved money by deploying cascaded Mk 3 coaches from soon-to-be redundant HSTs, modified with power-operated doors as Chiltern has done. The Mk 3s are the best carriages ever built for the UK.

Pdeaves   24/05/2016 at 11:38

I would be interested to know whether the loco-hauled coaches will be based on the new Caledonian Sleeper stock. If it is, hopefully they will cut bigger windows!

Track Worker   24/05/2016 at 13:32

Following recent RSSB ruling on no requirement for yellow cab ends, it didn't take long for TPE to drop them. Obviously, headlights always work, are clean and aligned correctly.

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