TransPennine Express set to cut service between Manchester and Leeds to improve reliability

The rail operator TransPennine Express has declared it will cut their off-peak services to improve punctuality and reliability between Leeds and Manchester.

The company has announced that the frequency of trains will be reduced from four to three per hour starting from this December, in order to make the journey more consistent for customers. The peak time services remain unchanged.

Despite the change, TransPennine Express (TPE) Managing Director Chris Jackson remains confident would have “sufficient” capacity to meet demand.

In an interview with BBC Look North, he said: “This plan to slightly step back the timetable in December will help to fix the business in the long term and operate a much more stable and reliable timetable for customers.

“If we are able to, we will reintroduce services through 2024 or if not, we will reintroduce the full timetable in December 2024,” he added.

The change means, in total, TPE will run 300 services a day, down from 320, across the whole network.

The operator was nationalised in May of this year, after their contract ran out.

Having been privately owned by the transport company FirstGroup, TPE had stood out for a long time for the number of cancelled trains.

Since then, the change in ownership has led to a reduction in cancellations by 40%, primarily through a change in approach towards the trade unions.

Specifically, a new agreement between the train drivers’ union ASLEF and TPE has meant drivers are no longer refusing to take overtime shifts, a key factor in resolving the issue.

The announcement of the off peak reduction between Manchester and Leeds comes as the operator is also set to withdraw its state-of-the-art Nova 3 trains from the tracks in December, due to the lack of train drivers able to operate them.

The trains came as part of a £500million investment designed to modernise the TPE fleet. Yet the modern trains will be removed for the foreseeable future, predominantly due to the training of the drivers for them taking too long.

TPE has not yet made a decision about the long-term future of the Nova 3 fleet.

More information about TPE’s plans can be found here.

Feature image by Jacques Bopp.

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