First TransPennine Express - A

First TransPennine Express - A

First TransPennine Express was a British train operating company jointly owned by FirstGroup and Keolis which operated the TransPennine Express franchise. First TransPennine Express ran regular Express regional railway services between the major cities of Northern England as well as Scotland.

The franchise operated all its services to and through Manchester covering three main routes. The service provided rail links for major towns and cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield, Hull, Leeds, York, Scarborough, Middlesbrough and Newcastle. Previously, all services called or terminated at Manchester Piccadilly, but, as of May 2014, a new service running between Newcastle and Liverpool Lime Street, calling at Manchester Victoria was announced, and launched as part of the Northern Hub plan.

When the franchise was re-tendered, FirstGroup and Keolis tendered separately. The franchise was awarded solely to FirstGroup, trading as TransPennine Express.

First TransPennine Express History

The TransPennine Express brand was launched in the early 1990s by British Rail, and maintained by the privatised operator Northern Spirit and its successor, Arriva Trains Northern.

In 2000, the Strategic Rail Authority announced that it planned to reorganise the North West Regional Railways and Regional Railways North East franchises operated by First North Western and Arriva Trains Northern. A TransPennine Express franchise would be created for the long-distance regional services, the remaining services being operated by a new Northern franchise.

In July 2003, the TransPennine Express franchise was awarded to a joint venture between FirstGroup and Keolis, and the services operated by Arriva Trains Northern and First North Western were transferred to First TransPennine Express on 1 February 2004.

The franchise was due to end on 31 January 2012, but in August 2011 the Department for Transport awarded First TransPennine Express an extension until March 2015. Included was a clause to allow the date to be brought forward to April 2014 to coincide with the end-date of the Northern Rail franchise. In March 2013 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the franchise would again be extended until 1 April 2016.

The continuation of the franchise was not certain. Local transport authorities and consultancies proposed merging Trans-Pennine services into other franchises to increase efficiency on the rail network. The Manchester Airport to Scotland service could be transferred to the InterCity West Coast franchise after the electrification of lines around Manchester by 2018. The south Trans-Pennine route between Manchester and Cleethorpes could be transferred to East Midlands Trains who operate an hourly service on the Manchester to Sheffield section.

In June 2014 the DfT confirmed two separate franchises in the north of England, one providing intercity rail services and a second providing local rail services. At the time proposals were made to transfer services including York to Scarborough and Doncaster to Cleethorpes services to the Northern franchise and transfer the Nottingham to Liverpool portion of the Norwich to Liverpool service operated by East Midlands Trains to the TransPennine franchise.

In August 2014, the Department for Transport announced FirstGroup, Keolis/Go-Ahead and Stagecoach had been shortlisted to bid for the next franchise. On 9 December 2015, FirstGroup was awarded the franchise in its own right with TransPennine Express taking over on 1 April 2016.

First TransPennine Express Overview

First TransPennine Express Franchise(s):
TransPennine Express
1 February 2004 – 31 March 2016

First TransPennine Express Main Route(s): North West England, Yorkshire and Humber, North East England, Scotland
First TransPennine Express Fleet Size: 67 units
(6 units were subleased from Northern Rail)

First TransPennine Express Stations Called At: 90
First TransPennine Express Stations Operated: 30
First TransPennine Express Parent Company: FirstGroup (55%)
Keolis (45%)

First TransPennine Express Reporting Mark: TP
First TransPennine Express Predecessors:
Arriva Trains Northern
First North Western

First TransPennine Express Successor: TransPennine Express


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