TPE seeks MORE bi-mode trains

TransPennine Express is seeking expressions of interest to supply high-speed bi-mode trains to run on the network after the Trans-Pennine Route Upgrade (TRU) is completed.

TPE will be looking for at least 25 125mph trains with a minimum of five cars and options for six or seven vehicles in each set. The EOI was expected to call for ‘existing or new bi-modes with an option for electric-only operation in the longer term’. Industry sources suggest this could include trainsets where the diesel power packs could be removed at a later date, leaving the sets as straight electric or battery-electric trains, or even the provision of a quantity of electric-only sets further down the line as part of the contract. Noting this is the very early stage of the procurement process, which itself would require Department for Transport approval, one insider told Modern Railways that whilst diesel-only power ‘is not an option’ the EOI would be expected to ask ‘tell us what you could provide and by when’.

In a notice published on 18 March, it seeks trains to operate on Liverpool-Newton-le-Willows-Manchester Victoria, Manchester Airport-Manchester Victoria, Manchester Piccadilly/Victoria-Huddersfield/Leeds (which is being electrified in the TRU), Leeds-York via Micklefield (also being wired), York-Newcastle, York-Scarborough, Northallerton-Saltburn, Leeds-Hull via Micklefield as well as Manchester Airport-Edinburgh and diversionary routes.

The notice says any proposed solutions should be modular and flexible to increase train lengths from five coaches to six or seven, but that other formations will be considered providing they are within a 200-metre length limit. 

Submissions using ‘alternative’ traction power solutions will be welcomed, in addition to cascaded rolling stock in existing or modified form. The eventual supplier will be expected to maintain and service the trains.

The move is linked to the company’s preparations for the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) and what insiders call ‘a reshaping of the TPE fleet’ as further electrification and other infrastructure improvements are completed. Whilst TPE continues to explore opportunities for new services in the North of England, this move could also feed into Government plans for the removal of old and expensive to use diesel rolling stock from elsewhere on the network, should any trains become surplus to requirements at TPE.

The company also reports its move to seek ‘expressions of interest’ regarding the supply of bi-mode locomotives to replace the Class 68s currently working with its Mk 5a coaches (p80, last month) has seen ‘a healthy level of interest’.

Additional reporting by Tony Miles.