Recent Transpennine Express problems: What's going on?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by CICERO55, 25 Aug 2019.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. BeHereNow

    BeHereNow Member

    Messages:
    192
    Joined:
    30 Dec 2017
    The infrastructure has been improved through various electrification works, line upgrade schemes and extra platforms at Manchester Airport. There will still be failures of the infrastructure, but I’ve not seen any evidence that shows incidents have gone up markedly, only that the impact has due to the increased number of trains.

    This makes it a train planning and not an infrastructure issue; the infrastructure itself isn't causing the increase in unreliability. The previous instance of particularly poor performance was in May 2014, that followed the introduction of 5 fast trains an hour (a plan designed by First / Keolis TransPennine).

    The routeing of trains through Manchester was based on the Northern Hub train plan, designed by the TOCs alongside NR and DfT, who all take some responsibility. First wanted to implement the May 2018 timetable, there were almost no changes from their advertised bid plan, and there was no suggestion from them that the timetable wouldn’t work: in fact TPE were still saying the timetable change would improve performance in their Summer 2018 customer report (see 'Transformational Timetables' page here http://www.liverpoolchamber.org.uk/UserFiles/file/Customer Report Summer 2018.pdf).

    In addition, the extra frequency on the East Coast from May 2018 and the congestion caused by the joining of the stoppers were First’s ideas and weren’t mandated by the ITT (i.e. not caused by DfT or NR). See here for more info on the franchise ITT https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/transpennine-express-franchise-2015-invitation-to-tender

    As for staff and fleet issues, they are the responsibility of the operator to plan and mitigate against.

    The staff on the ground that I see all do a great job in very trying circumstances, and none of the criticism I see is aimed towards them. Those actually working on the railway see the issues and call them out. Unfortunately, they have to deal with the timetable plans and management initiatives given by head office, which for TPE have led to declining performance and the lowest level of passenger satisfaction since the start of what is now TransPennine Express.
     
    Last edited: 21 Oct 2019
  2. Seehof

    Seehof Member

    Messages:
    32
    Joined:
    1 Sep 2019
    Location:
    York
    Can anyone explain to me why TPE decided to have two radically different types of trains that go through York to Newcastle/Scarborough/Middlesbrough? I can see nothing but cost and operational disadvantages with this! Surely one fleet of trains for these type of services (probably bi modes of the similar type it is planned to operate to Newcastle) would have been much better.
     
  3. BeHereNow

    BeHereNow Member

    Messages:
    192
    Joined:
    30 Dec 2017
    Because they were so eager to win the bid and promise early delivery of capacity increases. As you say, so many disadvantages.
     
  4. Seehof

    Seehof Member

    Messages:
    32
    Joined:
    1 Sep 2019
    Location:
    York
    Thank you. What a crazy industry the railway has become. However, it does make it more interesting for us!
     
  5. Revaulx

    Revaulx Member

    Messages:
    15
    Joined:
    17 Sep 2019
    Location:
    Saddleworth
    The "core" Manchester-Leeds-York route has seen no infrastructure improvements other than the Ordsall Chord, which has merely moved congestion from one place to another.

    That said, the deterioration of reliability on this core route can by no means be blamed entirely on the inadequate infrastructure. Late delivery of rolling stock, traincrew no-shows/shortages and train failures seem to be far greater contributors.
     
  6. BeHereNow

    BeHereNow Member

    Messages:
    192
    Joined:
    30 Dec 2017
    I think in the last few years, the only things on York to Manchester are relatively minor:

    Line speed increase at Micklefield https://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/15220799.easter-delays-warning-for-rail-passengers/

    Line speed increases between Manchester Vic and Stalybridge https://twitter.com/TheGNRP/status/988699438460932097

    Also on routes with 2 TransPennine trains an hour, the work at Liverpool Lime St, the 4-tracking Huyton-Roby and extra platform at the Airport were all done in the last few years.
     
    Last edited: 17 Oct 2019
  7. nr758123

    nr758123 Member

    Messages:
    160
    Joined:
    3 Jun 2014
    Location:
    West Yorkshire
    This week's Private Eye is offering another explanation for TPE cancellations, which is rather disconcerting if true.
    [If it's difficult to read from the photo, what's being suggested is that scheduled trains are being cancelled in order that driver training runs can use those paths and timings.]
     

    Attached Files:

  8. BeHereNow

    BeHereNow Member

    Messages:
    192
    Joined:
    30 Dec 2017
    Not seen that. Great article!
     
  9. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

    Messages:
    10,023
    Joined:
    28 Sep 2010
    It’s not a good article at all, as it presents the issue from a rather slanted viewpoint, without any attempt to examine the issue. But then what do you expect from the ‘Doctor’.

    There no doubt is an issue. However, as an example, the same issue occurred on Southern, Thameslink and GN at a much higher level. But he seems to have missed that.
     
  10. 2L70

    2L70 Member

    Messages:
    56
    Joined:
    18 Feb 2019
    TPE do have form for this, cancelling the overnight Manchester Airport Services “Due to Engineering work” whilst in Reality they wanted the trains on Ardwick for a week to do Maintenance.
     
  11. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

    Messages:
    10,023
    Joined:
    28 Sep 2010
    Technically, that’s engineering work then!
     
  12. northernchris

    northernchris Member

    Messages:
    918
    Joined:
    24 Jul 2011
    There's no doubt that Network Rail are responsible for a lot of the issues currently facing TPE but there is an increasing trend of lack of traincrew at weekends which in some cases creates long gaps and severe overcrowding. Northern, GTR and LNWR attract negativity when they experience the same issues yet TPE seem to slip under the radar
     
  13. 158756

    158756 Member

    Messages:
    902
    Joined:
    12 Aug 2014
    It's true the train service requirement didn't explicitly mandate joining the stoppers together, but it did require 6tph from Leeds to Manchester Piccadilly, which I'm sure was known to be impossible with the stoppers as they then existed. Any bidder who submitted a plan with the current service pattern, with stoppers split at Huddersfield, would have been non-compliant and tossed out.
     
  14. 2L70

    2L70 Member

    Messages:
    56
    Joined:
    18 Feb 2019
    It’s rare for the South Route to not have a cancellation on weekends, so EMR/Northern get hammered.
     
  15. BeHereNow

    BeHereNow Member

    Messages:
    192
    Joined:
    30 Dec 2017
    True, I see what you mean.
     
  16. LittleAH

    LittleAH Member

    Messages:
    142
    Joined:
    24 Oct 2018
    No it hasn't. Little bits of work here or there aside. I travel through TPE's core route daily and there's not been much work done on that since the 70's. Countless times this year there's been track issues at Batley/Morley or Heaton Lodge. Which is why TRU is bloody well needed, despite the objections of some.

    Castlefield must destroy TPE's PPM on a daily basis. Twice this week I've been on a train sat at Deansgate for a good 10 mins on my way to Oxford Road. My train back today was delayed by a late running Northern stoppers, despite it going through Slade Lane Junction early.

    I travel pretty much daily on TPE for work, I've seen very little in the past 20 years to show any sort of infrastructure improvement between Manchester and Leeds. Same goes for Northern too, how are they supposed to improve their performance with inadequate infrastructure. Too many like to blame the TOC's for the wrong things, when it's the DfT and whatever government in charge not looking after the entire network and economy!
     
  17. BeHereNow

    BeHereNow Member

    Messages:
    192
    Joined:
    30 Dec 2017
    Agree and I would argue needs more 4 tracking, from Batley to Marsden, if freight is to be considered.

    Yep. But it reminds me of the old transport planning phrase, 'You aren't stuck in traffic, you are the traffic!'. This is clearly the key thing that needs sorting as even if TransPennine did staff their services properly and have adequate turnrounds, Castlefield and the congested East Coast still create reliability risks.

    I think, as others have noted, TransPennine seem to 'get away with it' in comparison with other operators. Some of the frustration reported in this thread is, I think, a reaction to TPEs behaviour as performance still seems to be getting no better - at least in part due to TOC-on-Self factors.
     
    Last edited: 18 Oct 2019
  18. 2L70

    2L70 Member

    Messages:
    56
    Joined:
    18 Feb 2019
    There’s quite a bit goes underhand, the story of the secret train maintenance mentioned by a Guard to me at one of the big depots.

    There is a culture of fear at the Bigger depots it seems to keep quiet about some working practices, and I’ve been warned/threatened in the past by some TPE staff about mentioning them.
     
  19. tpjm

    tpjm Member

    Messages:
    184
    Joined:
    25 Jan 2019
    Location:
    The North
    Feels like you've missed my point. The base timetable does work. It's just that there is so little slack that one small delay causes a huge ricochet effect across the network. For example, all it takes is Northern's 1Yxx service to terminate at MIA 8+ minutes late to cause the outbound working (1Nxx) to get a delayed departure, which in turn causes the TPE Middlesbrough service to be late by the time it gets to MAN and therefore knock onto the rest of the network. Consider Northern's York - Leeds stopping service (set to be tweaked in Dec). This causes carnage if something is slightly late because the TT is so tightly timed and any slack has been taken up by more services.

    There are many factually inaccurate claims made in that report. There is a serious capacity shortage between Liverpool and Manchester via Chat Moss at the moment which is making it very difficult to train crews on this section, hence the 'in service training' of Drivers and Conductors. It's not unheard of to cancel the odd service in order to run the first training courses, LNER did it between LDS and KGX for Azuma. There just simply isn't enough capacity on the network.
     
  20. Ianigsy

    Ianigsy Member

    Messages:
    519
    Joined:
    12 May 2015
    LNER were fairly upfront about it and withdrew a number of trains from the timetable permanently, though. What's shabby about the way TPE are handling this is that they seem to be hiding behind about half a dozen excuses, some of which are only marginally true.
     
  21. Greybeard33

    Greybeard33 Established Member

    Messages:
    2,310
    Joined:
    18 Feb 2012
    Location:
    Greater Manchester
    That particular issue is addressed in the December timetable. The Airport turnaround of Northern's Blackpool service will be extended by a couple of minutes (xx35 - xx45) and the TPE to Redcar will depart ahead of it, at xx40.
     
  22. BeHereNow

    BeHereNow Member

    Messages:
    192
    Joined:
    30 Dec 2017
    Exactly right, and that’s why it’s a train planning issue. It may well work on paper it just never seems to work in real life.

    Back in 2013 there were often days when TransPennine had PPM in the high 90s, and it seems ages since that last happened mid week. In that time the track hasn’t substantially got worse; the train plan has.

    I have high hopes for December 2019 though which seems to have a lot more catch up time in it, more like Cross Country. Ever since May 2018 there have been some very short dwell times at Leeds, which are resolved in December.
     
  23. tpjm

    tpjm Member

    Messages:
    184
    Joined:
    25 Jan 2019
    Location:
    The North
    Unfortunately I can explain why the base timetable is so tight. It all comes down to unit availability. The TSR is so great that the only way to run the full service plan is to have services running as express as possible, with minimal dwell time and short turn arounds. May 18 proved that it didn’t work with the levels of congestion across the network, as services were so late they were forced to turn before their destination. (Note. This was a practice which TPE were forced to implement by NR as part of service recovery, it’s more political that it might seem but that’s for a different day)

    From Dec 18, running services 3 car vice 6 provided the turn around reliability and has meant that most services do make it to their end destination, but the actual core, industry-wide problem of having too many trains on a congested bit of rail hasn’t changed.

    December will see the dwell times increase and the turn arounds at destination decrease slightly which should (fingers crossed) provide some more cross-network reliability and enable TPE services to run on time through congested parts of the network.

    Essentially what I’m saying is that whereas at the moment, a 6 minute late service to MIA may find itself being regulated rather interestingly at Ordsall Lane Jnc, from Dec, it should get there RT and be able to avoid gaining an extra 4 minutes delay.



    I know. That’s why I chose that example. :s
     
  24. jtuk

    jtuk Member

    Messages:
    51
    Joined:
    4 Jun 2018
    Nice little failure this morning, 0900 ish from MIA to Glasgow cancelled, started from Piccadilly instead short one carriage with no seat reservations
     
  25. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Established Member

    Messages:
    1,336
    Joined:
    10 Nov 2015
    Location:
    Hope Valley
    Given the tight availability of the 4-car Class 350 EMUs (pending full introduction of the new 5-car Class 397s) this was presumably substitution of a 3-car Class 185 (which obviously have a totally different seating configuration)?

    So more of a 'new train backlog' issue rather than the wider timetabling issues referred to above.
     
  26. Greybeard33

    Greybeard33 Established Member

    Messages:
    2,310
    Joined:
    18 Feb 2012
    Location:
    Greater Manchester
    FirstGroup accepted the TSR in its franchise bid, and TPE planners, together with Network Rail and Northern, participated in the development of the original May 2018 timetable. Therefore TPE bears a share of responsibility for the resultant chaos.
    In which case you might have pointed out in your previous post that that is only a short term problem! :rolleyes:
     
  27. XC90

    XC90 Member

    Messages:
    196
    Joined:
    4 Jun 2015
    Agree. Half their lies aren't true anyway.
     
  28. northernchris

    northernchris Member

    Messages:
    918
    Joined:
    24 Jul 2011
    Did TPE have to change their original plan for the May 2018 timetable or was it mostly implemented as intended?
     
  29. BeHereNow

    BeHereNow Member

    Messages:
    192
    Joined:
    30 Dec 2017
    Some minor changes to timings at Man Airport and the Scottish trains but essentially the same as consulted.

    It had to be substantially the same as bid to fit with Virgin and EMT timings, driven by the Thameslink recast.

    The tight turns must have been part of the bid, to minimise rolling stock costs. Hence 6 circuits on Manchester to Middlesbrough, 6 circuits on Liverpool to Scarborough, operated by 12 out of 13 Nova 3 sets. Both circuits will be extended to 7.
     
    Last edited: 19 Oct 2019
  30. gimmea50anyday

    gimmea50anyday Established Member

    Messages:
    2,654
    Joined:
    8 Jan 2013
    Location:
    Back Cab
    Hmm... 7 into 13 doesn't go. Two short....
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page