TPE First Nova 3 - Man Vic 240819 TM2

Photo: Tony Miles

A TPE push-pull set stands at Manchester Victoria.

UK: TransPennine Express is to retain its full allocation of Class 185 DMUs for the medium term and introduce Class 802 electro-diesel trainsets on its West Coast Main Line services under a series of operational changes to be phased in at the next three timetable changes.

From December 12, one diagram between Manchester Airport and Edinburgh via Carlisle will be worked by a Hitachi Class 802 set. The decision reflects a need to ensure drivers remain competent on the type should any engineering blockades require the use of non-electrified diversionary routes. TPE will also have more options to return the Class 802s to Hitachi’s Craigentinny depot in Edinburgh for maintenance. This in turn addresses a problem thrown up by the reduction in TPE’s services to Edinburgh via the East Coast Main Line. The change will also add some resilience to the operator’s CAF Class 397 EMU fleet, which currently covers all WCML diagrams.

Service pattern revised

TPE expects to reinstate almost a full pre-Covid-19 timetable on its services between Manchester Airport and Glasgow/Edinburgh from December 12, with each Scottish city getting a train every 2 h from Manchester.

From the same date, a broadly hourly service will be reinstated between Scarborough and Manchester Victoria, with four daily services extended from Manchester to Liverpool Lime Street. The majority of these trains will be worked by push-pull trainsets formed of a Class 68 locomotive and MkVa coaches; Class 185 DMUs will be used as required to avoid the need to service the loco-hauled trains at Scarborough depot at night.

TPE 802212 Liverpool Lime St A

Photo: Tony Miles

TPE’s Class 802 trainsets have typically been used on Liverpool - Newcastle services, but from December 12 they will start running over the West Coast Main Line.

From May 2022, two daily diagrams on the Hope Valley route between Manchester and Cleethorpes will be worked by the push-pull sets; these will start and terminate at Manchester Piccadilly rather than Manchester Airport. The following December, four daily diagrams will be covered by the push-pull sets, reflecting the rerouting of the Cleethorpes service to operate to and from Liverpool Lime Street via Manchester and Warrington Central, subject to final approval of the Manchester Task Force’s proposed remapping of passenger services around the city.

By that point, TPE’s push-pull sets should finally be fully deployed; driver training on the Cleethorpes route using Class 68 locos has already begun.

Faster to Hull

TPE is also planning a de facto swap of its Hull and Scarborough routes from December 2022. This would see a Hull – Manchester Victoria – Liverpool service launched, replacing today’s semi-fast Hull – Manchester Piccadilly service, while the long-standing Scarborough – Liverpool route would be cut back to Manchester Piccadilly. This change would accelerate journeys between Hull and Liverpool by 25 min compared to current options, which necessitate a change at Huddersfield.

The Scarborough service meanwhile would take up the semi-fast calling pattern of today’s Hull service, including peak-hour stops at Slaithwaite, Marsden, Greenfield and Mossley; it would also serve the planned station at Haxby northeast of York.

TPE has also been given approval to retain the 15 Class 185 sets which were due to go off lease in December 2021. This will enable the operator to maintain many current six-car formations, supporting capacity provision should any further social distancing measures be required, and providing operational resilience ahead of the launch of major works on the Transpennine Route Upgrade.