The Government will not renew or extend FirstGroup’s contract for TransPennine Express contract, which expired at the end of May, with the DfT OLR Holdings Ltd, the Operator of Last Resort, taking over instead.
It says the decision follows ‘months of significant disruption and regular cancellations across TransPennine Express’s network, which has resulted in a considerable decline in confidence for passengers who rely on the trains to get to work, visit family and friends and go about their daily lives.’ The Government also says the decision is temporary and that it intends to return TPE to the private sector in the future.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said TPE’s driver training backlog stretches to nearly 4,000 days, meaning it can only draw on 80% of its total driver workforce at any one time. He added that, with a breakdown in relations between the operator and drivers union ASLEF, ‘there simply haven’t been enough drivers to run the planned timetable’. The Department for Transport did acknowledge, however, that there factors are at least partially outside TPE’s control.