On Friday, Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport released a statement on the revised franchising timetable.
It shows the Northern and TPE franchises extended to April 2014 with a view to considering prior to then whether to combine them or to split the services in some other way. Given the upcoming electrification programme, this is not surprising.
Could we see the Airport to Scotland services handed over to Scotrail, sponsored by the Scottish Executive and Manchester Airport and run with brand-new class 380s? It would be a great way to promote both Manchester Airport and also Scotland as a destination, as well as promoting Manchester Airport for use by the Scots rather than them having to slog down to congested Heathrow for long-haul flights they can’t get out of Scotland.
I had my first ride on the 380s in June. They are superb units – I was surprised how much better they were than the 350s. Delightful. We’d probably need 380/2s, configured with appropriate seats for longer distance services, and with the ability to add weekend strengthening from the internal Scottish 380 fleet.
What happens to the current TPE Airport to Blackpool, Barrow and Windermere services once the Deansgate to WCML gap is electrified remains to be seen.