First TransPennine Express Mk 5As arrive in UK

The first CAF-built Mk 5As for TransPennine Express have been delivered to Longsight.

The five coaches will undergo testing and commissioning before entering traffic this autumn. Freightliner Heavy Haul has been contracted to perform the main line testing.

The five coaches form Set 2. They were built by CAF in Northern Spain and delivered to Portbury Dock by ship. From there, Rail Operations Group took them to Longsight, moving north on May 25.

TPE has 13 sets on order, and these are planned to be permanently-coupled (RAIL 851). Those delivered are: Trailer First (TF) 11502, Trailer Standard (TS) 12704-12706 and Driving Trailer (DT) 12802.

Set 1 (formed of TF 11501, TS 12701-12703 and DT 12801) has been undergoing testing in the Czech Republic at the Velim test track.

Next to be delivered to the UK is expected to be Set 3 (formed of TF 11503, TS 12707-12709 and DT 12803).

Financed by Beacon Rail, they are the first five of 221 brand new vehicles to be delivered to the UK for TPE by the middle of next year. The 66 Mk 5As will be followed by 12 five-car Class 397 EMUs also built by CAF, and 19 five-car Class 802/2 bi-modes built by Hitachi.

Class 68s hired from Direct Rail Services will operate with the Mk 5As in push-pull mode.

The Mk 5A fleet will run on the Liverpool Lime Street-Manchester Airport-Scarborough/Middlesbrough routes. They will replace three-car Class 185 diesel multiple units that have 180 seats (15 First Class). The new Mk 5A/Class 68 sets have 291 seats (30 First Class).

They will be based at Alstom’s Longsight depot, with additional maintenance at York (at Leeman Road) and a new-build depot in Scarborough. Class 68s are being leased from Direct Rail Services, which will maintain the locomotives. Testing and commissioning will be carried out at the former Manchester International depot opposite Longsight.

CAF is building 66 coaches that will be formed into 13 rakes of five plus a spare Driving Trailer (DT). TPE will operate 12 diagrams per day with one spare set. An additional 70 drivers and conductors have been recruited to operate the new fleet.

On the interiors, TPE Head of New Trains Robin Davis said the specification is for InterCity standards, although there is also an appreciation that commuters and airport users will also use the trains.

TPE Managing Director Leo Goodwin told RAIL last month that should the franchise map change and TPE inherit Liverpool-Nottingham from East Midlands Trains, then the Mk 5As could be employed there (RAIL 851).

Davis also confirmed an option for more coaches if required, and that more ‘68s’ could be sourced. He said it was likely the trains would be extended, rather than more sets being ordered.



The Class 68-hauled Mk 5As will be formed of five coaches, plus the locomotive. The formation will be ‘68’+TF+TS+TS+TS+DTS. In Velim, the set was formed of 68021 Tireless, TF 11501, 12701, 12702, 12703, DTS 12801.

The Driving Trailer (DTS) is 22.37 metres long with 64 Standard Cass seats, and weighs 32.90 tonnes.

Next to the DTS is a TS, which is known as T2. This has 59 seats plus an area for bike and bulk storage (there are a further six tip-up seats, but these are not included in the overall seating figure). A trolley can be stowed here. T2 is fitted with a standard toilet. This coach weights 31.56 tonnes and is 22.2 metres long.

Next are two TS coaches (known as T3). These weigh 31.82 tonnes, measure 22.2 metres, and each have 69 seats. These also have standard toilets.

The final coach in the rake is the TF (known as T1). This is 32.67 tonnes and is 22.37 metres long. Like the DTS it is fitted with buffers. It has 30 First Class seats plus two wheelchair spaces. There is also a fully accessible toilet fitted to this coach, as well as catering facilities.

An at-seat refreshment trolley will be on-board with a hot water urn exchange unit in the kitchen area, which reduces the need to load/remove the trolley mid-journey or between trains.

Including the Class 68, the train is 131.84 metres long. It has a maximum speed of 100mph.

The coaches are fitted with CCTV forward and rear-facing in the saloon and vestibule.


Technical characteristics

The Mk 5A sets are fitted with couplers on the outermost vehicles with standard draw hook and shackle, buffers and twin air-brake pipes. Inter-vehicle couplings use a semi-permanent rigid bar.

Each coach has two passenger doors per vehicle apart from the Trailer First, which has one. They are all fitted with automatic sliding plug doors with enhanced sensitive edge technology. This remains active for a period of time after door interlock is established, to allow increased detection of objects trapped.

The coaches are fitted with Automatic Selective Door Opening (ASDO) based on GPS positioning. If required, these are supported by track-based beacons.

There are operational door controls in the Driver Trailer and ‘68’ cabs, which the driver controls. There is a minimum of two door control panels (with PA/crew call unit) in every vehicle for use by the conductor.

The auxiliary power supply offers either 1,000V AC from shore supply or 900V DC from the ‘68’.

The coaches’ bogies have an inside-frame and an inboard axle journal bearing design with on-board hot axle box detection.

The stock is fitted with axle-mounted disc braking, air-operated by standard UIC 2-pipe arrangement. There is a spring-applied parking brake.

Wheel Slip Protection (WSP) with sanding is available via the third axle of the DTS coach, while the Class 68s are fitted with sanders.

An automatic passenger count system has been fitted to each coach and this updates after each stop. WiFi is also fitted.


Trailer First:         11501-11513

Trailer Standard:   12701-12739

Driving Trailer Standard:         12801-12814


TransPennine Express’ fleet post-late 2019

Train Vehicles per set     Power         Number in fleet

Class 68      1       Diesel locomotive  14

Mk 5A        5       Hauled stock         66

Class 185     3       Diesel multiple unit        29

Class 397     5       Electric multiple unit      12

Class 802/2  5       Bi-mode      19

Note: A further two Class 68s will be modified for TPE, but will remain part of the Direct Rail Services fleet.

  • An in-depth feature looking at the Mk 5As appears in RAIL 851, available digitally. 
  • Our report on testing from a visit to Velim last month appears in RAIL 851, available digitally.




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  • PeterG - 29/05/2018 14:11

    I was expecting a lot from the new rolling stock, but it seems like the same old mistakes have been made to minimise cost – pitiful luggage storage, overhead racks with such a roof curve above you’ll never get anything more than a rucksack up there, seats completely misaligned with windows and a colour palette clearly chosen by committee to be as bland and inoffensive as possible.

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  • Robert Harris - 30/05/2018 12:47

    If the whole fleet is being shipped via Portbury, there's a fine photo-opportunity awaiting us when they proceed along the track through the Avon Gorge and pass underneath Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge.

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  • AndrewJG8918 - 30/05/2018 21:56

    CAF have done a wonderful job on manufacturing the MK5A coaches for TransPennine Express and MK5 coaches for Caledonian Sleeper. Which these new coaches should enter service from late this year or next year.

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  • AndrewJG8918 - 03/06/2018 20:44

    Was literally thinking if CAF could of start building the Mk5/Mk5A coaches to replace the Mk3 coaches but to keep the Class 43’s on East Midlands Trains. But Bombardier are likely to manufacture the new Bi-Mode Aventra that will replace the entire Class 43+Mk3 rolling stocks on the Midland Main Line in the next few years.

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  • Steve - 05/07/2018 06:18

    TPE seem to be responding to what passengers want. They will be far better than CrossCountry’s inferior offering and better than the already-good Class 185s they replace. It’s a pity that no British TOC is willing to reintroduce corridor compartments though. Even the latest DB ICE4 trains in Germany still have a few of these in first class (and a couple for families with children in second). These would be great for business travellers and those with toddlers- mutually beneficial as the kids can’t escape and the noise is less likely to bother other passengers.

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