CHANGES IN the timing for the completion of some of Network Rail’s infrastructure projects in the north of England will mean a re-phased programme for some of the timetable changes announced at the start of the new TransPennine Express franchise. As the changes in the infrastructure programme impact on Northern as well, the two companies are working together, and with Rail North, to ensure changes are in step with each other.
TPE says all timetable commitments will be delivered by the agreed time of December 2018, but some intermediate changes will be adjusted. The company adds: ‘Where the timetable changes are independent of Network Rail schemes some expansion can be delivered ahead of our original commitment, including the improvements between Manchester and Scotland’.
Plotting enhancements against a timeline, TPE says improvements began in December 2016 when an additional four daily trains from Manchester Airport were extended from York through to Newcastle. The plan is eventually to double service frequency to the north east.
From May 2017, an additional train to Glasgow will depart from Manchester Airport at 19.00, with a new southbound departure at about the same time. From December 2017, the opening of the Ordsall Chord will enable one train an hour between Manchester Airport and York to run via the new connection and at the same time a number of off-peak Manchester to Scotland services will revert to running via Bolton following the completion of the electrification of the route through to Preston and the West Coast main line. Peak services will continue to run via Wigan to provide capacity for commuters travelling on that route. TPE is also looking at introducing an even later service from the airport to Scotland at around 21.00, with a return journey arriving at the airport at around 01.45, in time for passengers taking the first flights out of the airport each day.
In May 2018 TPE will begin running its six trains per hour service between Manchester and Leeds, and it is also seeking customer feedback on a possible Boxing Day service on key routes if levels of demand can create a business case. May 2018 will also see the step up in Sunday services to a level comparable with weekday provision. Tony Miles