The first Nova train to carry passengers in and out of Scarborough was late in more ways than one.
The futuristic-looking newcomer, inspired by bullet trains, was originally due to be rolled out at the end of last year. But the introduction was put back to spring because of “a technical issue with a key on-board system”, according to TransPennine Express.
After training runs for drivers and conductors, the Nova carried its first passengers on 24 August, leaving almost eight minutes late. Passengers weren’t allowed to board until 10.45am, four minutes after it had been due to depart. The train was full despite being longer and despite its scheduled departure time being only 14 minutes after the previous one, going to Manchester. Many passengers were carrying conspicuously heavy bags which would have been much lighter by the time they got off and made their way to York races.
The Nova 3 train has five carriages with 291 seats instead of the three carriages and 181 seats which local users are used to, and with space for four bicycles instead of two. The doors are at the end of the carriages instead of the side. Thirteen Nova 3s will be pulled between Scarborough and Liverpool by noisy diesel locomotives, with a maximum speed of 100mph. “These longer trains will be phased into service and will mean 700,000 extra seats per year for those travelling to and from Scarborough”, TPE said in November.
The Nova 2, operating on the west coast, is electric. The Hitachi-built Nova 1, on the so-called east-coast line running through York, is electro-diesel or bi-mode. Novas 2 and 3 are built in Spain by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles. The TPE franchise hopes most of its fleet will be replaced with 45 Novas by the end of the year.
A depot for maintenance, refuelling and overnight parking has been built at the back of Boro Tyres in Seamer Road. TPE says it has cost £11m and created around 15 new jobs.
In April, the railengineer website reported that TPE was investing £500m in 220 new carriages and 13m extra seats across the North and into Scotland by 2020.
TPE’s summer report, covering the period October 2018 to April 2019, reveals that more trains were over 10 minutes late than in the same period in the previous year, up from 17% to 22%; and 60% were at least a minute late, down from 64%.
Nearly 10% were cancelled or arrived over half an hour late, compared with over 7% in the corresponding previous period. From October to April, TPE cancelled 2,040 trains, down from 2,758. Over 5% of trains had fewer carriages than they should have had, up from 1% in the same period a year before.