Government ends TransPennine Express rail contract
May 11, 2023
TransPennine Express will be brought under the "operator of last resort" — that being the UK Government.
TransPennine Express runs many of Huddersfield's train services on the north trans-Pennine route through the town. It includes trains to Manchester Airport, to Liverpool, to Newcastle, Saltburn-by-the-Sea via Middlesbrough, to Scarborough and to Hull. The company also provides local services from Huddersfield to Manchester and to Leeds, serving commuters at seven of the 15 stations in the Kirklees district. Travellers have become increasingly frustrated by the scale of late cancellations in recent months.
TransPennine Express is currently run by First TransPennine Express Ltd, part of First Group plc, but the ownership of the company will transfer to TransPennine Trains Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DfT OLR Holdings Ltd (Department for Transport Operator of Last Resort), the public group which is also responsible for the companies running Northern — which also operate services to Huddersfield — LNER and Southeastern.
Making the announcement Mr Harper said: "In my time as Transport Secretary, I have been clear that passenger experience must always come first. After months of commuters and Northern businesses bearing the brunt of continuous cancellations, I’ve made the decision to bring Transpennine Express into operator of last resort."
"This is not a silver bullet and will not instantaneously fix a number of challenges being faced, including ASLEF’s actions which are preventing Transpennine Express from being able to run a full service – once again highlighting why it’s so important that the railways move to a 7-day working week.
"We have played our part, but ASLEF now need to play theirs by calling off strikes and the rest day working ban, putting the very fair and reasonable pay offer to a democratic vote of their members."
TransPennine Express has faced huge changes in public opinion in recent years, having carried out station improvements and relieved some of the problems of overcrowding with new trains it has gone on to face huge criticism over reduced timetables and continuing problems of late cancellations.
The Department of Transport said the decision followed months of significant disruption and regular cancellations across Transpennine Express’s network, which has resulted in a considerable decline in confidence for passengers who rely on the trains to get to work, visit family and friends and go about their daily lives.
Confirming the transfer, TransPennine Express said: "All tickets remain valid and customers should continue to use and purchase tickets in the normal manner."