Man Victoria TPE 802206 on AC 040221 TM3

Photo: Tony Miles

TPE is exploring options to grow its fleet of bi-mode trainsets.

UK: First TransPennine Express is hopeful that it will be able to issue a call for expressions of interest in the provision of additional bi-mode trains before the end of March. This follows ‘a healthy level of interest’ in its existing call for expressions of interest in the supply of bi-mode locomotives to replace the Class 68s which work with its MkVa coaches.

The additional EOI is expected to cover ‘existing or new bi-modes with an option for electric-only operation in the longer term’. Industry sources suggest that this could include trainsets with diesel power packs which could be removed at a later date, leaving the sets as electric-only, or with provision for modification to electric and battery operation.

TPE would be seeking at least 25 trainsets suitable for 200 km/h operation, with a minimum of five cars and options to extend to six or seven.

The provision of additional electric-only sets in the future may also be considered.

Noting that the EOI is a very early stage of the procurement process, and would require Department for Transport approval, one senior insider said that diesel-only power ‘is not an option’ and the EOI is expected to ask the supply industry to ‘tell us what you could provide and by when’.

The EOI is linked to the company’s preparations for the Transpennine Route Upgrade and what insiders call ‘a reshaping of the TPE fleet’ as further electrification and other infrastructure improvements are completed.

TPE continues to explore opportunities for new services in the north of England, and the move could also feed into government plans for the removal of older and more costly to operate diesel trains elsewhere on the network, should any rolling stock become surplus to requirements at TPE.