Latest Rail News

19.05.17

A major production year for the new TransPennine Express fleet

Robin Davis, head of new fleet at TransPennine Express (TPE), talks to RTM about the progress being made on the TOC’s new CAF and Hitachi Rail Europe (HRE) rolling stock.

Just over a year ago, FirstGroup took sole control of the TPE franchise with a pledge to “reimagine” the customer experience on its services with improved catering, more seats, faster trains, innovative ticketing systems and improved journey times. 

A day before taking over the franchise, the company signed a deal to procure 19 five-car HRE Class 802 bi-mode trains, financed by Angel Trains. And a few weeks later, TPE announced that it would buy 25 CAF-built trains to complete the new fleet: 12 five-car Class 397 electric trains, financed by Eversholt; and 13 sets of five-car Mark 5A Coaches, with Beacon Rail backing. 

Since then, TPE has released imagery of the first completed Mark 5A bodyshell and Robin Davis, head of new trains at TPE, who has been in post for around six months, is extremely impressed with the progress made thus far as “construction on all three new fleets is due to start this year”. 

TransPennine Express first completed bodyshell Mark 5A edit

Loco modifications 

The new Mark 5A CAF carriages, which are being built in Spain, will be pulled by a fleet of Class 68 locomotives, also owned by Beacon Rail, leased by Direct Rail Services (DRS) and maintained at Alstom’s Longsight facility. 

At the time of our interview, Davis said that the TOC was expecting to receive the first of the 14 locos at the end of May, and Stadler would immediately commence a series of modifications, including train management screens, PA units and more, to make them compatible with the Mark 5As in push/pull mode. 

“All the modifications will be done in the UK at Crewe, and the majority of the locos are existing Class 68s that DRS is already operating today,” he explained. 

“In terms of timeline, we will take a second locomotive in June and the aim is that we will have two locomotives modified this summer. These locos will then get shipped to Velim, the test track in the Czech Republic, alongside a rake of coaches, which will be completed in early autumn, to start dynamic testing.” 

Mark 5A plans 

The plan, as it stands, is for dynamic testing on the first tranche of Mark 5A coaches to take place from late autumn through to early 2018. 

“CAF’s aim for type testing is to do as much as possible, if not all, in the Czech Republic,” said Davis. 

Following commissioning and shakedown runs, TPE will then take control of the first Mark 5As, “with passengers starting to see them being introduced from summer 2018 through to the end of 2018”. 

The carriages, he added, are on track to enter service in 2018 and will run between Liverpool, Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Scarborough and Middlesbrough. 

Each 291-seat train is expected to transform the current customer experience with increased capacity and more comfortable seating, said Davis, who regularly commutes with TPE on one of its busiest routes. “It’s the extra seats that is the big difference! From a passenger point of view, all our new trains will provide more leg room, more tables, more toilets, more luggage space.” 

Standard Class new TransPennine coaches edit

Routes in South Yorkshire through Sheffield and Hope Valley, and the Hull route, will maintain Class 185s, but they will all be refurbished to deliver similar levels of comfort and appearance as the new trains. 

“We are retaining a majority, 29 units, of the Class 185s. The majority will operate in six-car formations. Currently the majority have been operated as a three-car formation, which is 169 seats,” said Davis. “By the time we finish all the new trains, compared to our existing rolling stock, we will have 50% more vehicles, from a pure capacity point of view.” 

One of the Class 185s receiving its new livery at Ardwick depot. A full refurbishment of the interiors is taking place in 2017 edit

Class 397s and Class 802s 

With regards to the Class 397 fleet, CAF is expected to finish the first bodyshell in spring this year with the first train due to be complete by the autumn. 

“That will then move to Velim and for type testing,” said Davis. “CAF will be looking to do testing in sequence, coaches and then EMUs.” 

There will also be some testing requirements for the Class 397s in the UK, primarily with OLE. Despite the Velim test track being a 25kv system, TPE must also demonstrate combability with multiple new and legacy Network Rail systems. 

“Testing for 397s will start in spring next year, and then we are looking at introducing them into passenger service in early 2019,” said Davis. 

While the passenger introduction plan for the HRE Class 802s is some way off, summer 2019 through to the end of 2019, “we actually start building the first bodyshell in autumn this year”. 

“That is due to come out of assembly in Japan this autumn, and then we will have the train shipped from there in early spring 2018,” explained Davis. “But that won’t have any interior fit-out, as that will be used for testing. The first one with a full interior will be late 2018 here in the UK.” 

By the time the December 2019 timetable comes into force, Davis reflected that TPE, through its £500m fleet investment, will be providing 20,000 extra peak seats per day with more than 13 million seats being introduced: “we really will be taking the north further”.

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Comments

Andrew Gwilt   20/05/2017 at 00:41

First TPE will replace the Class 350/4's with the Class 397's as the Class 350/4's will be cascaded to London Midland and Class 397's will operate on the Manchester Piccadilly-Glasgow Central route.

Andrew JG   23/05/2017 at 20:16

First Transpennine Express and First Hull Trains Class 802's IET's "IEP's" will be manufactured at Hitachi Pistoia factory in Pistoia, Italy and also to be manufactured at Hitachi Newton Aycliffe factory in County Durham, Northeast England (UK) and Hitachi Japan factory in Kudamatsu, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. And are due to be delivered sometime this year and next year "2018" and to be in service sometime around late next year or in early/late 2019 or in early/mid 2020.

Andrew JG   23/05/2017 at 20:19

Whilst the First TPE Class 397's will be manufactured at CAF factory in Spain and in other countries where CAF factories are based at that are to manufacture the Class 397's for TPE.

J, Leicester   05/06/2017 at 09:16

Look at those nice big windows on the Mk. 5s. And from that interior sketch, it looks like (shock horror!) they've actually gone to the trouble of aligning the seating pattern with them! Simple things like that make for a better riding experience. Take note, Bombardier, Siemens et. al! Looking forward to riding on them.

Flunge   22/08/2017 at 15:14

Hopefully a few side corridor compartments could be provided in first class too, and you have a new standard of non-HST Intercity coach for the UK. Looking good!

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