The Anonymous Widower

Musical Trains On TransPennine Express

The moving on of the inadequate Class 185 trains on TransPennine Express (TPE) seems to have started with this article in Rail News entitled Hitachi scoops 95-car TPE train deal. This is said.

  • TPE have signed a deal for the delivery of nineteen five-car Class 802 trains for delivery from 2019.
  • The trains will normally run at 125 mph, but will have a 140 mph capability, subject to track and signalling.
  • The Class 802 trains will have 161 more seats than the Class 185 trains.
  • A second fleet of twenty-five trains will be ordered by TPE for delivery in 2018.

It’s also said that TPE will retain about half of the existing Class 185 trains.

In Future Fleet in the TransPennineExpress Wikipedia entry, this is listed as their future fleet.

  1. Thirteen sets of five-car Intercity carriages for TransPennine routes with a top speed of 125 mph, with deliveries, starting in 2017.
  2. Twelve sets of five-car EMUs for Scottish routes with a top speed of 125 mph, with deliveries, starting in 2018.
  3. Nineteen sets of five-car Class 802 trains for TransPennine routes, with deliveries, starting in 2019.

The third fleet of nineteen trains have been ordered and I feel pretty sure, Hitachi will deliver them on time from Newton Aycliffe.

But what types of trains will be delivered for the first and second requirements?

Class 387 Trains

Twenty-nine Class 387 trains have been built and there are another twenty-eight on order.

  • A proportion of the trains will be going to Great Western Railway (GWR), which is a sister company to TPE, to run Thames Valley services out of Paddington.
  • Because of the late delivery of the Great Western Electrification, some could end up sitting in sidings.
  • They are only a four car train, but as some Electrostars come in five car sets, I suspect that they can be lengthened to the required five cars.
  • They are only a 110 mph train, but then so are the Class 350 trains, currently working Manchester Airport to Glasgow services for TPE.

Although Class 387 trains don’t quite meet TPE’s speed requirement, they could provide a valuable interim service, whilst awaiting the delivery of the new trains.

Class 387 Trains With An IPEMU Capability

A Class 379 train was used for the prototype IPEMU or Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit, which was successfully demonstrated in public service early in 2015.

This train has a range of upwards of fifty miles using on-board energy storage, charged on the main line from the overhead electrification.

The Class 379 and 387 trains are both Electrostars and are closely related, so it is very likely, that a Class 387 IPEMU can and will be developed.

A Class 387 IPEMU could be able to serve the following routes.

  • Liverpool to Newcastle via Manchester and Leeds.
  • Manchester Airport to Blackpool, Barrow and Windermere.
  • Blackpool and Preston to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line.
  • Manchester to Chester.
  • Manchester to Sheffield via the Hope Valley Line.

I also think, that as experience of the trains is accumulated, other routes would become possible.

Class 802 Trains

The Class 802 trains are the ones ordered for the major part of services across the Pennines, but they have a major problem. It would be unlikely, that Hitachi could deliver the trains until after the rest of the trains have been delivered starting in 2019.

Aventra Trains

The Aventra is Bombardier’s successor to the Electrostar.

  • It is designed as a modular train, that comes in a range of lengths. So far four car Class 710 trains and nine car Class 345 trains have been ordered.
  • Modern Railways disclosed in the April 2016 Edition, that a 125 mph version of the new Aventra train is coming.
  • It has been designed to be a very efficient train.
  • According to Modern Railways, the trains are designed to be able to handle both commuter and longer-distance services.
  • All Aventras are wired so that on-board energy storage can be fitted.
  • As it will be a more efficient train than the Electrostar, range using on-board energy storage would probably be longer.

So it would appear that a 125 mph five-car Aventra, that can extend routes and bridge electrification gaps will be available.


The two requirements  for TPE will now be examined.

The First Requirement

The first requirement for thirteen trains for TransPennine routes could be met by.

  1. Shortened five-car formations of InterCity 125s released by delivery of Class 800 trains to Great Western Railway (GWR) and Virgin Trains East Coast.
  2. Five-car Class 221 trains released by Virgin Trains.
  3. Five-car Class 222 trains released by East Midlands Trains.
  4. Five-car Class 387 trains with an IPEMU capability.
  5. Five-car Aventras with an IPEMU capability.
  6. Lengthening the existing Class 185 trains by adding two new cars.
  7. More Class 802 trains.

Option 1 – Every train operating company will be after these and there is a lot of work to do. But they would do the job.

Options 2 and 3 – What trains could be used to release the Class 221 and Class 222 trains?

Option 4 – Five-car Class 387 trains can be created. But would 110 mph trains be fast enough and would the IPEMU capability allow TPE to run the routes they require?

Option 5 – 125 mph Aventras with on-board energy storage, could probably do the job. But will they be available for delivery in 2017? I doubt it!

Option 6 – I doubt Siemens would like to lengthen Class 185 trains, but as an interim they could run as six car trains. But until the Class 802 trains arrive, they’re needed across the Pennines.

Option 7 – Not probably a possibility for delivery in 2017, unless Hitachi find how to 3D-Print trains at a rate of one a day.

TPE Needs More Capacity Now

The big problem, is that TPE needs extra capacity across the Pennines now! It should also be noted that the Ordsall Chord could open in December 2017, which will create a need for more trains.

TPE could decide to just muddle through until 2017, but I think they would like some extra capacity, otherwise all the euphoria of the new franchise, will be flushed down the toilet

The only trains that could be running across the Pennines, before the end of 2016, are Class 387 trains with an IPEMU capability. In fact, they could probably be running in time for the May 2016 timetable change.

I have believed for some time, that they could work the routes across the Pennines between Leeds and Manchester.

If TPE did go down this interim route, then it would be likely that the thirteen new trains ordered for this route would be 125 mph Aventras with an IPEMU capability.

Bombardier would love that if it turned out to be successful, as publicity of using batteries to extend the range of a 125 mph train must open up some very lucrative markets all over the world.

The Second Requirement

The second requirement used on the Scottish routes could be.

  1. Class 350 trains until new trains are delivered.
  2. Class 387 trains to add capacity to or replace the existing fleet.
  3. Class 802 trains
  4. 125 mph Aventra trains

All except the Class 350 trains could be five car trains and the Class 802 trains and the Aventras are 125 mph trains or faster.

140 mph Running

One complication is that at some time in the 2020s, the East Coast Main Line and West Coast Main Line will be able to accept 140 mph running. So the Scottish services, may end up bein worked by Class 802 trains.

Airport Expresses

An intriguing possibility is to use Class 387/2 trains as used on Gatwick Express on some services.

  • TPE services call at Manchester Airport and Liverpool South Parkway for Liverpool Airport.
  • The Class 387/2 trains have an interior designed for airport passengers.
  • The trains could be delivered as five car trains.
  • The trains could have an IPEMU capability.

Manchester and Liverpool Airports are very ambitious and probably would like connections to places such as Chester, Nottingham and North Wales.


There are a large number of possibilities and a massive need for an interim solution, which will probably use some of the available Class 387 trains, with or without an IPEMU capability.

The final solution will come down to a choice between.

  • Thirteen Class 802 trains with a bi-mode capability and twelve Class 802 EMUs
  • Twenty-five Aventras, of which at least thirteen would have an IPEMU capability.

I might find the Class 185 trains inadequate, but as new trains arrive, inevitably some of the diesel multiple units will be cascaded to other operators.

I think there’ll come a time, when TPE has just Class 802 trains and/or Aventras, with some trains having a bi-mode or IPEMU capability.

When there is electrification between Leeds and Manchester and if Aventra IPEMUs were handling the parts of the network without electrification, then TPE could rightly claim that they were running an all-electric fleet, which must give a green edge to their marketing.

Some bi-mode Class 802 trains could be converted to EMUs and hopefully would be able to cruise to across the Pennines at over 125 mph and to Scotland at 140 mph on the flagship routes.

  • Liverpool to Edinburgh via Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.
  • Liverpool and Manchester to Glasgow via the West Coast Main Line.

It will be an interesting decision, as to which trains are chosen for the extra twenty-five trains.

The only certainty is that TPE will get a very good price.




April 1, 2016 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,

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