February 2004 – January 2012
(optionally 2017)
Main regions(s):Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Merseyside; Tyne and Wear and Yorkshire (all parts)
Other regions(s):Derbyshire, Scotland
Fleet size:60
Stations called at:67 (30 operated)
National Rail abbreviation:TP
Parent company:First Group 55%/Keolis45%

First TransPennine Express [1] (also known as TransPennine Express [2]) is a train operating company in the United Kingdom. It is a joint operation between First Group (55%) and Keolis (45%.) They operate regular services in the north including services linking the west and east coasts of England across the Pennines.The franchise will run for eight years with an optional extension of five years.

The original service and brand name transpennine express was launched in late 1998 by Northern Spirit, and maintained by its successor, Arriva Trains Northern. On 1 February 2004, the service became a separate franchise, also incorporating the Manchester Airport to Cumbria and Lakelines (Oxenholme to Windermere) routes from First North Western but minus the Bradford to Blackpool service. Transpennine Express later took over the Manchester Airport to Blackpool .

TransPennine Express is one of the few train operating companies in the United Kingdom running 24 hours a day, including through New Year's Eve night. For example, trains run between York and Manchester Airport at least every three hours every night of the week.


First TransPennine Express services are split into three routes:

North TransPennineEdit

Main article: North TransPennine

The core route between Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds sees four trains per hour between the two cities. This is made up of an hourly Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough service, an hourly Manchester Airport to Newcastle service, an hourly Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough service and an hourly Manchester Piccadilly to Hull service. The Huddersfield to Leeds section is the most busy section on any Transpennine Express service.

The Manchester to Liverpool sector is supplemented by East Midlands Trains hourly service from Norwich a Northern Rail hourly Liverpool to Manchester Airport express service (which runs via Newton-le-Willows rather than Warrington), thus giving three fast services between Manchester and Liverpool per hour. Similarly, the service between Leeds and Newcastle is boosted by an hourly CrossCountry service; York to Newcastle is also supplemented by National Express East Coast’s and CrossCountry services.

It can be faster for passengers wishing to travel to Durham or Newcastle to board a Middlesbrough or Scarborough bound train and to change at York as both National Express East Coast and CrossCountry run faster trains (125mph vs 100mph) and skip many smaller stations. It can also be quicker for passengers from Manchester Airport or Manchester Piccadilly wanting Durham or Newcastle to travel to Sheffield and then pick up a CrossCountry service to their intended destination.

Under Arriva Trains Northern and Northern Spirit, the Newcastle service used to continue to Sunderland. Trains between Newcastle and Sunderland are now provided by Northern Rail. Likewise, the Bradford to Blackpool route is still available, but is provided by Northern Rail and journeys continue to York. When First and Keolis first took over the service they extended the Manchester to Hull service to Bridlington, which they now no longer do.

South TransPennineEdit

Main article: South TransPennine

An hourly service operates from Manchester Airport to Cleethorpes via Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Doncaster and Scunthorpe. The Manchester to Sheffield sector is supplemented by East Midlands Trains hourly Liverpool to Norwich service, thus giving a half hourly fast service frequency between Manchester and Sheffield.

TransPennine BlackpoolEdit

Main article: TransPennine North West

First Transpennine Express now run an hourly service from Manchester Airport and Blackpool. Northern Rail also run a train between Blackpool and Stockport and beyond every hour (most services start and terminate at Buxton but some start and terminate at Chester, Greenbank (Cheshire), Hazel Grove, Northwich and Stockport.) However, these services call at four extra stations and are more crowded as most are run by shorter trains.

Transpennine Cumbria & ScotlandEdit

Main article: TransPennine North West

First Transpennine Express took over the Manchester Airport to Blackpool, Barrow-in-Furness and Windermere services from First North Western. They reduced the number of stops which some trains made, to make them more of an express service.

In December 2007 TransPennine Express axed the two hourly service between Manchester Airport and Windermere. Windermere trains now start and terminate at Preston or are joined to another service between Manchester Airport and Preston, though the latter is less common. There is still, however, an hourly service between Oxenholme and Windermere and a two hourly service between Manchester Airport and Barrow-in-Furness.

Transpennine Express's new route between Manchester Airport and Edinburgh/Glasgow runs in the time slot that the Windermere service used to have and calls at more stations between Manchester and Preston than previous operator Virgin's service to help compensate for the loss of the Manchester Airport to Windermere service. But because the 185s are smaller than the previous Voyagers, trains have been susceptible to overcrowding. The Service is also slower because of the 100mph top speed of the 185s compared with the 125mph Voyagers previously.

Rolling stockEdit


The franchise is operated with Class 185 and Class 170 diesel multiple units. When first created the franchise operated a mixed fleet of Class 158 (inherited from Arriva Trans Northern) and Class 175 (inherited from First North Western).

In March 2006 new three-car Class 185 units, constructed in Germany by Siemens, began to enter service and took over most services. A new depot at Ardwick, about a mile east of Manchester Piccadilly was built as the base for the Class 185 fleet. A smaller depot, to provide stabling and lighter maintenance east of the Pennines, has been built at York and another at Cleethorpes. The Class 185 units were delivered in the First Group 'neon-style' livery. The "i" in the logo of Keolis is used as the 'i' in the Transpennine Express logo in addition to the FirstGroup 'flyling f' logo. The first eight units were sent over in First’s old livery, and were converted to the new one (see the photograph at the beginning of this article) using vinyl wraps.

It was planned to operate all services with the new Class 185 units. However, weight restrictions on the Hull-Leeds line mean the Class 185 units are limited to 75mph (120km/h) east of Leeds. To solve this problem and create extra capacity across their network First TransPennine Express has started to take on a nine-strong fleet of lighter Class 170 Turbostar units formerly used by South West Trains (SWT) on their Waterloo–Salisbury–Exeter services. In return SWT has received eleven surplus Class 158 units from TransPennine Express which will be upgraded to the same standard as SWT's Class 159 units. Transpennine Express have also since received one additional 170 which used to be used by Central Trains. The two-car Class 170 Turbostars are being used solely on Manchester-Hull services and have since been refurbished to include CCTV, plug sockets at table seats, replacement seat covers and an accessible toilet. They have also had 8 first class seats removed and had 13 standard class seats inserted in their place.

Current fleetEdit

Class Image Type Top speed Number Routes operated Built
 mph   km/h 
Class 185 Pennine 120px Diesel Multiple Unit 100 160 51 All TransPennine routes 2006
Class 170 Turbostar 120px Diesel Multiple Unit 100 160 9 Manchester Piccadilly - Hull route 2000

Past FleetEdit

 Class   Image   Type   Built   Withdrawn   Notes 
Class 175 Coradia 120px diesel multiple unit 1999 - 2001 2006 Moved to Arriva Trains Wales
Class 158 Express Sprinter 120px diesel multiple unit 1989 - 1992 2006 - 2007 Moved to Central Trains, First Great Western, South West Trains and Northern Rail


The latest figures to be released by the ORR for the third quarter of the financial year 2007/8 were up 3.5% on last year at 93.0% (PPM) and also up 0.9% for MAA at 91.6%. [3] These figures are slightly above the sector level for this quarter.

Issues with new trainsEdit

The new 185s have less capacity than the Voyager trains that used to run between Manchester and Scotland. This means that more commuters have to stand at peak times. As well as this, journey times have increased as they make several more stops than the previous Virgin services, and they have a lower top speed of 100 mph (instead of 125 mph before).

Because of stock shortages, there are less trains between Preston and Manchester (the Oxenholme to Windermere service was switched to a shuttle). This has added to the overcrowding, and caused th slowing of Scotland services, as they make more stops to compensate.

Transpennine Express have been hoping for some time to add a fourth carriage to at least some of their 185s (they have less seats than the 158s that ran before), but have as yet been unable to secure government backing.

However, despite this, 9 out of 10 passengers are happier with the new trains. [4]


  1. FTPE's website
  2. Keolis
  3. ORR Statistics
  4. FTPE's December 2007 timetables, in the MD's note at the front

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Arriva Trains Northern
Regional Railways North East franchise
Operator of TransPennine franchise
2004 - present
Preceded by
First North Western
North West Regional Railways franchise