Rail travel / Operator update GREATER ANGLIA STANSTED EXPRESS North to Scotland. TPE’s total £500million investment in new trains will start to bear fruit later this year when Nova 3 trains start operating on routes between Liverpool, Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Scarborough and Middlesbrough. Meanwhile, TPE’s all-electric Nova 2 trains will link the North West with Scotland including a new, direct Liverpool-Glasgow service. Bimodal Nova 1 trains, by Hitachi, will operate from the North West to Newcastle and Edinburgh. By 2020, 70% of TPE’s fleet will be new. Like many modern trains, these will offer a major upgrade on what went before, including comfortable seating with more luggage space, plug and USB charging points. Free on-board wifi access will be available in both standard and first class. Local services will soon start to benefit as Northern also brings in 98 new trains across its network. As with most operators, free wifi and plug/USB sockets will be standard, allowing you to work on the move. Further eye-catching improvements are being made in Scotland, where the devolved government is very pro-rail. The routes between Glasgow and Edinburgh and from these cities to Stirling and Dunblane have been electrified, with ScotRail able to increase capacity and shorten journey times. Caledonian Sleeper will introduce the first new overnight trains in Britain for more than 30 years from May, starting with the London- Edinburgh/Glasgow route followed by its Highland services to Inverness, Fort William and Aberdeen. For the first time on ordinary service trains, en suite cabins will be an Further eye-catching improvements to the rail network are being made in Scotland, where the devolved government is very pro-rail travel” Get the train to work.
Operator update / Rail travel option, greatly improving the appeal of sleeper travel to the business market. It will be interesting to see if it gains a loyal corporate offering. Built at a cost of £100million, the new sleeper fleet has been funded to the tune of £60million by the Scottish government. Another eye-catching development comes at Greater Anglia, owned by the same organisation as ScotRail, where the entire fleet is being replaced from 2019 with a mixture of electric and bimodal trains. Ten new electric trains for London-Norwich will reduce the journey time to under two hours, while more will be used by Stansted Express. Notably, first class seating is being abolished on all its routes except between London and Norwich. Meanwhile, London North Eastern Railway (previously Virgin Trains East Coast) will begin operating new Azuma trains this spring, with the first service scheduled to hit the tracks on May 15 between London King’s Cross and Leeds. Commuter services in southern England may not benefit from such major investment over the next few years, but in other parts of the country this investment is long overdue. However, capacity has been increased decisively on Thameslink north-south routes via Central London, despite the botched timetable revamp of May 2018 which led to massive cancellations. Most commuter operators are introducing extra trains to cope with overcrowding, such as South Western Railway which will add 90 new trains by the end of this year. Whether Transport for London’s Crossrail project (the Elizabeth Line) starts operating in 2019 remains to be seen, but, when it does finally open, Heathrow will be connected directly to the West End and Canary Wharf. These major fleet renewals might cast train operators not currently investing in a poor light, but as franchises around the country are renewed it will be the turn of routes including East Midlands and CrossCountry to benefit from investment. VIRGIN TRAINS GREAT NORTHERN Show your emails who’s boss. Free on-board WiFi * Connect to more