By Daniel Hunter
Passengers are on track to benefit from faster, longer trains and over 12,000 extra seats each day on journeys into London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Rail Minister Theresa Villiers announced today (Wednesday).
The capacity boost is being provided thanks to 80 new train carriages set to be introduced on the First TransPennine Express and London Midland networks from December 2013. The two franchises will get 40 extra carriages each.
“This is great news for passengers who will get faster, longer trains and more seats. Increasing capacity on some of the busiest routes in the country is a key part of the major programme of rail capacity expansion we have promised to deliver. It is a vital way of responding to passenger concerns about crowding and providing an important stimulus to economic growth," Theresa Villiers said.
“As rail travel becomes more popular operators must be able to meet growing demand and these new carriages will enable existing trains to be lengthened. These new trains will also run faster, which means extra train slots will come free, so that London Midland can fit more services into the timetable.”
Current London Midland services travel at a maximum speed of 100 mph, but the train operator will modify some of their existing fleet to run at 110 mph — the maximum speed of the new-build trains - creating faster peak and off-peak services into London Euston.
Not only will this mean quicker journey times — the extra speed will help shave up to 25 minutes off existing Crewe to London Euston off-peak services, for example — but the new timings will create space for extra train slots enabling London Midland to boost capacity in the peak even further.
TransPennine Express’ 40 new carriages will be used on the Manchester to Scotland route following the electrification of the line between Manchester and the West Coast Main Line south of Wigan. The new carriages will enable existing diesel rolling stock to be redeployed across the franchise to increase capacity into Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle.
The new carriages are part of wider plans by the Government to introduce 2,700 carriages onto the rail network by 2019.
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