With much of the transport debate revolving around High Speed 2 from London, we are interested to hear how TransPennine is planning, investing and delivering new trains, journey improvements while connecting the cities of the North.

The Chamber marketing team caught up with Chris Nutton, Major Projects Director at TransPennine Express, in the First Class lounge at Huddersfield Station for a whistle-stop interview to discuss a brighter future for customers and network expansion.

What is your current priority?

I’m responsible for the introduction of 44 new trains onto our network over the next few months, including our new Nova trains.

How will passengers benefit from your Nova trains?

We know we have had some challenges with capacity on our existing trains.

Our Nova trains are a shining example of investment in the North, a bright new future for the region and a fantastic space-age experience.

Nova trains are some of the highest specification trains available on the UK rail network, travelling at speeds of up to 125 miles per hour. They offer twice the capacity of our existing trains on many of our routes, completely transforming the customer experience. When I’ve seen passengers react to them, people have stood in awe at how impressive and space like our trains are.

Passengers will benefit from brand new amenities, Wi-Fi, and fantastic interiors which makes for a genuinely excellent travelling experience.

TransPennine proudly offers a new onboard entertainment system which includes access to the latest news, current affairs and some brand new TV programming, films and box sets.

Our state of the art seat reservation system will allow real-time, up-to-minute reservations. We have included really clear displays with colour coding, attracting you to those empty seats as you board our trains.

We’ve also got plug sockets at all of our seats to keep that phone charged, just when you need it,  so you can stay connected right across your journey.

When will your Nova trains be available for passengers?

We have a few of our new trains in service already, but November is really important for us, as we ramp up the number of trains operating services through Leeds, going up to York and Newcastle.

What will this mean for the region?

The Nova trains are a £500 million investment in the region, but it’s not just about the trains. We’ve had to do a lot of capital works to go and support those trains, including new places to put the trains to bed at night and extending station platforms to accommodate the longer trains.

How will businesses benefit from your new trains?

Connectivity is essential for businesses, and transport is key to joining the fantastic economies of Yorkshire and the Humber, but also linking up to the Northeast, to Scotland and Manchester quickly and in comfort. On some parts of our network, there will be impressive reductions in journey time and improvements in frequency, enabling people to carry out business to business communication, to get to those meetings quicker, with earlier starts and later finishes. We are improving the ability to get work done on the move, increasing the productivity of both business owners and employees.

We aim to double the capacity on our network,  through new trains, the expansion of services and train lengthening on other routes, for example, between Hull and Leeds.

How are you further trying to improve rail transport?

The improvements don’t stop there. At TransPennine we’re working very closely with Transport for the North, Department for Transport and Network Rail to develop some proposals for how we can develop the network further. We operate on a very congested stretch of infrastructure in the North of England, much of it Victorian, with some quite low speeds on the network and with quite a lot of congestion where trains catch each other up.

We need to expand that network, increase the number of tracks and improve the signalling through the
£3 billion transport route upgrade. We hope Network Rail and Department for Transport can work with us on a future strategy for growth and improvement, including perhaps, making our new trains even longer in the future.

How have you worked with the Chamber?

At TransPennine, we’ve got a dedicated team who work with the business community to go and develop the products and services within our network to support their needs.

We also have a dedicated Stakeholder Management Team that works with the Chambers in the North West, Yorkshire, the Humber and the North East and we get great value out of the relationships that we build up through the local Chambers.

We use the support from the local Chambers for that push on investment in transport in the region. We value the feedback that comes in from  Chamber members about how we can improve the products and services that we offer.

Watch the full interview here: