TPE faces uncertain future

Current service levels at TransPennine Express “are unacceptable” and “all options remain on the table”, says Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper. 

TPE’s contract expires on May 28. New figures reveal that it cancelled one in four trains in February. 

“We will hold TPE to account on its recovery plan,” said Harper, speaking in a rail debate in the House of Commons on March 20. “We have made it clear that unless passengers see significant improvements, like we have on Avanti, all options regarding that contract remain on the table.” 

Harper told MPs he would “update the House separately about TPE ahead of the contract expiring”. 

Run by FirstGroup, TPE is in the final weeks of a two-year National Rail Contract awarded in May 2021, following an Emergency Recovery Measures Agreement during the pandemic. The original franchise was due to run for seven years from April 2016, with a possible two-year extension. 

Harper’s comments came as new data from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) revealed that almost a quarter of all TPE trains were cancelled in the four weeks between February 5 and March 4.

Read this article in full in RAIL issue 980 here

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