06 June 2013
Spent a very useful morning with Nick Donovan (managing director of First TransPennine Express) recently.
This is the train company that runs longer-distance, higher-speed services across the north of England, including Manchester- Scotland.
Since the franchise was first set up in 2003, passenger journeys have grown from 13 million to 25 million a year – nearly double. Passenger satisfaction, as measured by our rail National Passenger Survey, has risen to a respectable 88 per cent.
They are packing the passengers in – this train company has one of the highest levels of occupied seats in the country. So it is dealing with problems of success; trains can get very crowded and there has never been a business case to extend the current train set to four carriages from the current three.
However, there is hope on the horizon. Government-backed investment will deliver new trains and extra services in 2014 – with 30 per cent more seats on the core Leeds to Manchester route.
This seems like a really good example of how government and the private sector can really grow a market together. It will be interesting to see how demand continues to grow.