Cancellation chaos hits new timetables December 18, 2019

A new five-coach Transpennine Expess Nova 3 train bound for Scarborough and a new Northern Class 195 three-car diesel, both built by CAF of Spain, at HuddersfieldRail travellers have faced cancellation chaos over the first few days of new rail timetables. Dozens of journeys have not run, particularly on TransPennine Express and some Northern services.

Both companies are still without their full fleets of new trains.

TransPennine Express had already issued a temporary amended timetable cancelling some of its new Liverpool to Edinburgh journeys and a couple of evening Newcastle trains but then cancelled many more journeys to several destinations. Some hourly commuter services in West Yorkshire were also cancelled as a blocked line at a depot on Tuesday added to train availability problems.

A Nova 3 train is pushed by its diesel locomotiveHitachi-built Nova 1 trains The new timetables introduced on Sunday (December 15) should see more of the long-awaited Nova 1 and Nova 3 trains which have started to appear on TransPennine Express (TPE) services over the last couple of months, but there has been a delay in the delivery of some of these trains for which staff also have to be trained.

The new timetables from Sunday were to see TransPennine Express services extended to provide a new hourly direct rail service between Yorkshire and the Scottish capital Edinburgh.

But many of these Liverpool to Edinburgh journeys are being cancelled under an amended timetable until January 5.

While some direct services to Edinburgh and beyond already operate from Sheffield, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York and Northallerton with either Cross Country or LNER, the new TransPennine Express service arriving across the Pennines from Liverpool and Manchester should now also provide new direct services from Huddersfield and more trains from Leeds and York.

Going further: Yorkshire seaside town RedcarAnother new direct destination is the Yorkshire seaside and racecourse town of Redcar. It gets an hourly direct service from many parts of Yorkshire as the TransPennine Express service previously running to Middlesbrough is extended to Redcar Central.

At Middlesbrough, Northern is now operating two more journeys per day on the Esk Valley line to Whitby.

The TransPennine Express Edinburgh service will be operated by its Nova 1 trains, built by Japanese company Hitachi, which has been importing trains from Japan and Italy as production at its UK facility at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham was already at full capacity. They are similar to LNER's Azuma trains built there, but made up into five-car sets with bi-mode diesel or electric operation and bigger diesel tanks to cope with stretches of the trans-Pennine hills which have not yet been electrified. Hull Trains have also started to use similar five-coach trains, but these are named Paragon after the station in Hull.

The Nova 3 trains are sets of five carriages with a streamlined end built by CAF, of Spain, and are hauled or pushed by smartly-painted Class 68 diesel locomotives, which also originate from Spain. The locomotives are a type that have been used for both freight and passenger services in the UK for the past five years.

Passengers can now experience some of Northern's new trains providing additional seatingNorthern also has new trains being built by Spanish company CAF, including Class 195 diesel sets and similar Class 331 electric sets. Their introduction, originally intended to remove the 1980s bus-like Pacer trains from the system by the end of this year, is also behind the original schedule. Northern announced on December 10 that the 35th of the 101 planned trains was now in service. The number was expected to increase to 52 by this week and Northern is now citing May 2020 as the expected date for completion of the roll-out of the new trains.

An LNER Azuma trainTimetable changes on LNER services include an increase in London services from Harrogate from one to six a day as new Azuma trains are introduced linking the North Yorkshire town to the East Coast Main Line.

Travellers in western parts of Yorkshire have a brand new operator if their journey takes them on to the West Coast Main Line. Virgin Trains franchise there came to an end on December 8, a week ahead of the timetable changes, to be replaced by new operator Avanti West Coast, which is a partnership between First Group and Trenitalia, a subsidiary of the Italian government-owned railway. The UK government’s privatised railway system sees it awarded the franchise until 2031, which means it expects to ultimately operate the first HS2 services.

Who operates rail services in Yorkshire? See our Rail travel page.

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