Ex­tra time for re­gion’s trains to turn around


UN­DER-FIRE RAIL op­er­a­tor Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press is to build an ex­tra 30 min­utes “turn­around” time into its ser­vices to help them run on time af­ter its pas­sen­gers were forced to en­dure months of de­lays and dis­rup­tion.

The firm will give its trains 40 min­utes, rather than 10, when they get to the end of the line to build more slack into the sched­ule and mean they can leave on time even if they ar­rive late.

Oper­a­tions di­rec­tor Paul Wat­son ad­mit­ted the op­er­a­tor had not left enough time for this to hap­pen prior this sum­mer, ex­ac­er­bat­ing ex­ist­ing de­lays on the line and hav­ing a knock-on ef­fect for other trains. Two ex­tra trains will be in­tro­duced, bring­ing Tran­sPen­nine’s to­tal to 63, to make up for ex­tra time needed to turn them around.

The change is one of a num­ber of mea­sures to be in­tro­duced by the rail in­dus­try in De­cem­ber to bring sta­bil­ity to the rail net­work fol­low­ing the chaos caused by the dis­as­trous in­tro­duc­tion of the May 20 timetable. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port seen by

other pro­pos­als in­clude the op­er­a­tor’s ‘stop­ping ser­vice’ be­tween Manch­ester and Leeds be­ing split into two, spac­ing out the stops and putting more space be­tween the trains. It re­veals that the pro­por­tion of trains run­ning on time over the course of a week for North­ern had re­cov­ered to around 85 per cent by Septem­ber 9, a sim­i­lar per­for­mance to five months ear­lier. Tran­sPen­nine, how­ever, saw its per­for­mance for Septem­ber still well be­low what it was in April.

The rail in­dus­try’s plans were heav­ily crit­i­cised at a meet­ing of Trans­port for the North, where the im­prove­ments since May were de­scribed as “not good enough”. Greater Manch­ester metro mayor Andy Burn­ham told bosses from Net­work Rail, Tran­sPen­nine and North­ern that their pre­sen­ta­tion was “around the ques­tion ‘why did the timetable not work?’” He said: “Why is it still not work­ing now, that is the key ques­tion. I will keep ask­ing that key ques­tion un­til I have that as­sur­ance and I don’t feel I have an as­sur­ance yet.”

Leo Good­win, manag­ing di­rec­tor at Tran­sPen­nine, said there would be “real change in De­cem­ber”. THE FIRST of a fleet of £500m new trains be­ing in­tro­duced in the North has com­pleted its trial run.

North­ern is aim­ing to roll out 98 state-of-the-art trains onto its ser­vices by the end of the year as part of a ma­jor rolling stock up­grade.

And yes­ter­day, one of the new diesel trains made its de­but trial run on the UK net­work, trav­el­ling from Liver­pool on the St He­len’s branch and run­ning on the West Coast Main­line be­tween War­ring­ton and Carn­forth.

Ben Ack­royd, North­ern’s en­gi­neer­ing di­rec­tor, said: “The first of the new trains ar­rived in the UK in June and we’ve re­ceived a fur­ther three since then. It’s very re­ward­ing to see our new trains pro­gramme reach such an im­por­tant mile­stone. The start of UK track test­ing re­ally brings the pro­ject to life af­ter months of de­sign and con­struc­tion work.”

The trains were built by CAF and are now owned by Ever­sholt Rail.

They are cur­rently go­ing through their first round of dy­namic test­ing on the UK rail net­work.

It will con­tinue into the autumn as North­ern gets ready to launch the first new train into ser­vice by the end of the year.

They will fea­ture free wifi for pas­sen­gers, air con­di­tion­ing, at-seat power and new seat reser­va­tion sys­tems.

The first of North­ern’s new fleet makes its de­but run on the track, on the West Coast Main­line from War­ring­ton to Carn­forth.

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