One aspect of “This Could Be The Last Time” that was not fully discussed within Rail Reports 2014 was my encounter with the new and very comfortable Trans Pennine Express version of the Siemens Desirio electrical multiple unit, 350 401 having taken me from Manchester Piccadilly to Oxenholme and 350 408 thence from Oxenholme to Preston.
These trains were announced on 29 February 2012 by the Department for Transport and were also the subject of an article in Railnews of June 2014.
New electric train fleet boosts Manchester-Glasgow frequencies
90 000 extra sets is major benefit of electric services launched by FTPE
First TransPennine Express has launched its new fleet of electric trains and a new timetable providing more than 90 000 extra seats a week.
Ten new four-car Class 350/4 trains, built by Siemens at a cost of £ 60 million, have been delivered enabling FPTE to drastically change its timetables as the trains bring an increase in capacity of 80 % on journeys between Manchester and Scotland.
Diesel units which have been covering the Scottish runs are now being deployed elsewhere and the new timetable means there are now hourly services throughout the day between Manchester and Scotland.
FTPE hosted a special VIP event at Manchester Piccadilly on Friday 16 May, just two days before the start of the new timetable.
It was a big day for the project team who had worked for two years to see the introduction of the new trains and timetable.
Managing director of FTPE, Nick Donovan, said: “Sunday 18 May marked the culmination of a two year programme of new trains development that will improve passenger capacity and the customer experience across the north of England and into Scotland.”
“The biggest piece of feedback we receive from customers is the need to improve capacity and I am delighted that the new timetable will mean we will be able to offer an additional 90 000 seats a week across our network.”
“We are also introducing new routes and reducing journey times on many key commutes, benefits that I’m sure our customers will appreciate.”
The new 177 km/h Class 350s were designed, built and delivered on time by Siemens and are now in full passenger service, operating between Manchester and Scotland via Wigan and providing a 62% increase in capacity on that route.
The new trains allow FTPE’s current diesel fleet to be used on the rest of the network, with key benefits being:
90 000 extra seats a week across the north of England and into Scotland.
Five trains an hour in both directions between Manchester and Leeds rather than the previous four.
A new hourly service between Liverpool and Newcastle via Manchester Victoria, with faster journey times.
A train every hour between Manchester and Scotland.
Improved journey times between Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds.
In addition, many peak-time trains are also improved, with more seats and services timed to get people into work before 0900.
Peter Cushing, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) said:
“This project represents a key delivery for the massive investment in the railway that is happening in the north of England, and one that brings significant benefit to rail passengers in Manchester.”
“TfGM has worked together with FTPE to improve the customer experience and deliver much needed additional capacity.”
“An invested and modernised railway benefits everyone, not just rail passengers, and the extra capacity and connectivity for Manchester is a really positive step forward”.