UK: TransPennine Express has announced details of the timetable improvements it plans to make from July 6 as lockdown measures are eased and more people return to work.
The date has been selected by the Department for Transport for all operators to make similar improvements. TPE expects to run around 85% of the level of services operated from the December 2019 timetable change, with an emphasis on increasing capacity between the five key cities across the north of England.
TPE says peak time capacity will increase by 23%, with the number of trains operated increasing to 284 per day against the 355 in the pre-Covid-19 timetable.
On the South TransPennine route (Manchester – Sheffield – Cleethorpes) services will be doubled from every 2 h to every hour, with some peak enhancements. Given the forecast lack of demand, overnight services on this route will not be re-introduced but the amended timetable will deliver 100% of pre-Covid-19 levels of capacity in the peaks.
West Coast Main Line services between Liverpool/Manchester and Glasgow/Edinburgh will also be increased from a near two-hourly frequency serving Edinburgh, with peak enhancements into Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester to hourly. However Liverpool – Glasgow services will only run as far as Preston where passengers will connect into other TPE or Avanti trains. TPE will also deliver 100% of pre-Covid-19 levels of capacity in the peak on these routes, with overnight services remaining suspended.
Improvements on the North TransPennine corridor from Liverpool and Manchester to Leeds, Hull, York, Scarborough, Redcar, Newcastle and Edinburgh will focus more on providing additional capacity, as a full level of service is already operating on the Manchester – Huddersfield, Huddersfield – Leeds and Liverpool – Newcastle routes alongside an amended service on other routes. From July 6 TPE proposes to maximise peak capacity on the Manchester – Huddersfield, Huddersfield – Leeds and Manchester – Hull services through the operation of six-car Class 185 DMUs wherever possible.
The TOC says it is ‘not proposing to reinstate services that would duplicate and compete with other operators’, adding that ‘due to the current and forecast lack of demand, overnight services on this route are also not currently being re-introduced.’
TPE explained to Rail Business UK that it needs to ensure that its staff are protected. However, the increase in services by all operators means that more staff will be required, posing challenges in maintaining social distancing at crew change points. The TOC is using an additional building and relocatable building space to increase the room available at key locations.
|TransPennine Express train capacity with 2 m social distancing in place|
|Normal capacity, seats||Social distancing capacity, seats|
|Nova 1 (Class 802)||342||82|
|Nova 2 (Class 397)||286||76|
|Nova 3 (Mk5a & Class 68)||291||74|
|Class 185 3-car||182||43|
|Class 185 6-car||364||86|