TransPennine Express’s first Nova 3 set entered passenger service on 24 August. No 68027, appropriately named Splendid, powered CAF-built Mk 5a set TP09 on the 05.55 from Manchester Victoria to Liverpool Lime Street. The set worked over the Pennines on the 06.56 from Liverpool to Scarborough and made further journeys through the day before low fuel issues saw it taken out of service shortly before the end of the planned diagram. A formal launch of the new trains is expected to be held during September.
It is understood that delivering crew training is now a key challenge ahead of significant numbers of Nova 3 trains entering service and to speed this process up TPE will be carrying out in-service training on the new trains, with trainees working alongside previously trained conductors. The company is keen to see new trains in service as quickly as possible as this will enable spare Class 185s to be used to provide much needed capacity improvements by strengthening trains which are already experiencing high levels of overcrowding.
Thirteen permanently coupled five-car rakes of Mk 5a coaches are being delivered by CAF for use on the Liverpool Lime Street/Manchester Airport to Scarborough/Middlesbrough routes, financed by Beacon Rail. Once all 13 sets are available for service TPE will operate 12 diagrams per day with one set spare, with a dedicated fleet of 14 Class 68s hired from Direct Rail Services (DRS) to work the coaches in push-pull mode. The sets are based at Alstom’s Manchester Longsight depot, with additional maintenance being carried out at York (Leeman Road) and a new-build depot in Scarborough.