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April 2015 - Update from Kathryn O'Brien, Customer Service Director 

In the last month, a number of major announcements have been made including the Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the future TransPennine and Northern franchises and more recently, confirmation of our Direct Award.

We welcome both announcements which have provided more clarity on the future. The changes outlined in the ITT specification will allow for greater connectivity between our great northern towns and cities, building towards a Northern Powerhouse.    

As part of the Direct Award, by April this year, we will have introduced free Wifi at seven  of our stations with further rollout planned for the future. 

With just under twelve months left before the end of our current franchise, we are not standing still and are still continuing to invest in customer service. I am delighted to share with you that all customer facing staff are currently taking part in a brand new customer development programme which has been put together by World Host, the organisation that trained the renowned ‘Gamesmakers’ on the run up to the 2014 Olympic Games.  

We are also continuing to invest in our stations and support the communities we serve. Brand new cycle racks and ramps have been installed at Warrington Central Station creating further journey options for local customers. In Huddersfield, the station has played host to a series of recent events, including the popular Pageturner’s Children’s Book Festival and SMART ticketing will soon be in operation.

Over the last few weeks, we have held a series of Stakeholder Business Updates across the network. These sessions provided a valuable opportunity for both myself and our Managing Director, Nick Donovan to meet with many of you face to face and initial feedback from these has been very positive.  

Finally, I’d like to say a big thank you to all those that participated in our Stakeholder Survey. An overview of the results is included in this edition of my newsletter and your feedback will be used to inform our Stakeholder strategy going forward, as well as our 2015/16 Business Plan. 

Regards,

Kathryn O’Brien, Customer Service Director
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very impressed with the service.just recieved an email reminding of my trip on sunday and what to do to make my journey easier.
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Introducing Our New Customer Service Development Programme

Customer service lies at the very heart of FTPE and we have an aspiration to become an organisation known for providing world class customer service.   

In the coming months, all customer facing colleagues will get the chance to partake in a brand new Customer Service Development Programme known as ‘Principles of Customer Service’. Those colleagues that successfully pass the course will benefit from receiving a professional customer service accreditation.

This flagship course has been accredited by leading customer service training providers, WorldHost, the company responsible for training the Olympic Gamesmakers back in 2012. 

The content itself is not meant to be rocket science; however it's aimed at enhancing our consistency and bringing everyone fully up to date with the latest research on what customers expect in 2015. All Customer Service Managers have already taken part in the programme and feedback has been hugely positive so far. 
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New Enhancements for Warrington Central Station

First TransPennine Express (FTPE) is inviting cyclists to park and ride, following the installation of multi-use cycle parking systems and cycle wheeling ramps at Warrington Central station, improving the access and services for its passengers.   

The station enhancements have delivered 40 new and secure cycle stand spaces, rail users simply park their bike as normal, inserting a one pound coin into the lock, securing their bike using a chain and key which is supplied. The stand can be used for as long as required and the cyclist will receive their money back in return for the key.

The British Transport Police (BTP) were in attendance at Warrington Central on Tuesday 24th February offering safety and security advice to cycle users along with providing free identification markings for customer’s bikes.

FTPE worked with Falco, a leading UK supplier of high quality street furniture and cycle shelters to install the new stands, to add a further level of customer assistance and to make travelling easier and more convenient.

The new cycle racks represent an investment of over £35,000 which has been funded through the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Cycle Rail Working Group Grant which seeks to improve integration between cycling and train travel.

Billy Vickers, Manchester Hub Station Manager, said: “This investment demonstrates our commitment to keeping both the station and its facilities up-to-date for our customers. The new stands will give passengers the opportunity to securely park their bikes before boarding the train for the next leg of their journey." 

Councillor Linda Dirir, executive board member for highways transportation and climate change at Warrington Borough Council, said: “Any initiative that promotes an alternative and environmentally friendly travel option certainly gets the green light from us. This is a welcome addition to Warrington’s transport system and I hope many people will take full advantage of this service.”

Warrington Central has a passenger usage of 1.6 million each year and with cycling increasing in the area, the additional cycle racks provide rail users with the capacity they need.
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A Warm Welcome for Cleethorpes Station 


Customers at Cleethorpes Station are now receiving an even warmer welcome to the popular seaside destination thanks to a brand new welcome sign. 

The sign was conceived as a way of commemorating over 150 years of train services to Cleethorpes and acknowledging the strong part the rail company played in the development of Cleethorpes as a resort. 

We worked with the Grimsby, Cleethorpes and District Civic Society and colleagues at Network Rail to ensure the sign was installed at the station and the finished product is an excellent example of what working together can achieve. 
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In January we were proud to receive Investors in People (IIP) Gold status.

IIP is recognised worldwide as a mark of excellence for creating high performance through people. It recognises organisations that put their employees at the heart of their vision – organisations that want to harness the skills, talent and energy of the people they employ.

This award reflects our shared determination to enable our colleagues to perform at the highest standards and deliver the best possible service for our customers. 
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FTPE Family second in the series - Anna-Jane is Head of Resource Planning involved with planning and working to deliver solutions when planned engineering and events occur. We've put together a short video explaining her role, what she does and why, providing some thoughts on the future.  
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Free Wifi Trial Goes Live at FTPE Stations

We are now offering a fast and unlimited Wifi service at seven of our stations following the announcement of a new partnership with O2. We have joined up with the leading broadband and communications giant to provide the service to customers across our network. 

Wifi will be available at selected stations with hopes the scheme will be rolled out across the whole network. The first major FTPE stations to receive this are; Huddersfield, Manchester Airport, Stalybridge and Selby with Dewsbury, Warrington Central and Middlesbrough set to follow shortly.

To celebrate the launch, on Monday 23 March, Huddersfield Station Waiting Room was transformed into a lounge-style sanctuary, providing customers with the opportunity to sit back, relax and surf the new O2 Wifi for free before their making their onward journey. Up cycled furniture was provided by the homeless charity, Emmaus.    

The event saw representatives from both FTPE and O2 Angels – the experts of O2 Wifi - offering information and advice to customers who could take advantage of the new comfy surroundings and free chocolate Wifi-topped cappuccinos. 

Access to the new O2 Wifi will be completely free and unlimited to all and six of the seven stations, will be utilising fast 100MB dedicated connections to help support fast internet and ensure reliability at even the busiest sites and times.

Will Munton, Huddersfield railway station Manager, said: “The Wifi will be a great addition to our stations at FTPE, especially here in Huddersfield and its installation is just one part of our commitment to customers to improve their journey and make each experience more enjoyable.

"We're really happy to have joined up with such a popular and reliable network as O2, and it's great they’ve come on board to provide our customers with what is set to be a great service."

Liz Collins, Finance Director, said, “I am delighted that after months of hard work by the IT Department we have started to roll this out across the network; improving the service that we offer to our customers.  Before the end of the Direct Award period in April 2016 we hope to provide free WiFi at 22 of our 30 stations, benefiting both customers and colleagues who are based there.”
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North West Electrification Update: Farnworth Tunnel 

The major project to reconstruct Farnworth Tunnel begins shortly, with the 22 week blockade set to commence on the 2 May.

The existing tunnels are too small for the overhead lines, so one will need to be enlarged. This complex engineering project will involve filling in the big tunnel and then re-boring it using specialist, purpose built equipment before re-opening the almost 300m tunnel. 

Between 2 May and 4 October 2015, there will only be a single line in operation through the tunnel, meaning service frequency will be reduced. 

Network Rail, First TransPennine Express (FTPE) and Northern are working together to ensure that during the work, as many customers as possible are kept moving during what will be a difficult period.

FTPE will be supplementing Northern Rail’s timetable during this period by providing additional capacity during peak times. To view our timetable, click here: www.tpexpress.co.uk/travel-information/farnworth-tunnel/

On 27 March, local stakeholders and councillors visited the Network Rail site at Farnworth to see and hear about what will be happening.
  
The communications plan is already well underway and we are already using a variety of channels to keep customers informed.

Meet the Manager sessions will be taking place at affected locations over the next few weeks and customers will also be provided with a guide to their various journey options. 

For further information and updates on the project visit www.networkrail.co.uk/farnworth 
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Stakeholder Survey Results – Your Feedback

Stakeholders from a wide range of organisations and regions took the time to participate in our latest Stakeholder Survey.  

This is the ninth stakeholder survey to assess both the service FTPE provides and its communications.

This year’s overall satisfaction score was 83%, which is a slight decrease on last year’s overall result. It is clear from your feedback that this fell due to the performance and punctuality we delivered for much of last year. However, in the area of communication, all scores showed a clear improvement, highlighting that we are heading in the right direction when it comes to keeping you informed. 

Service Provision

- Scores relating to our performance and punctuality decreased overall with overall satisfaction of travelling on our services having slipped by 10% to 81%
- You said that performance following the May 2014 Timetable Change had been a problem
- Nearly 100% of respondents who took part in the survey had used our services in the last 12 months, an increase on last year’s result
- Despite issues with performance, more of you would recommend FTPE to a colleague compared to last year

Communication

- Most of you felt that our communications had improved over the last year, with this area improving by 8% to 77%
- 97%  of you said you valued contact and communication from the company
- You said the quality of face to face meetings had improved  and 96% of recipients were happy with these
- Ideally, you would like there to be more face to face meetings
- Going forward, you would like to know more about our future plans
- More and more of you are using our website, which you consider to be an important source of customer information
- When it comes to the type of information, updates on changes to trains services, investment plans and train service performance are most appreciated

Engagement

- Two thirds of stakeholders feel they are able to contribute to FTPE’s business plans
-  Many of you value having a known local contact 

Your feedback will be used to inform our Stakeholder strategy going forward, as well as our 2015/16 Business Plan, which is currently being formulated
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Supporting the Communities We Serve

On Saturday 7 March, we hosted the Pageturners Children’s Book Festival Grand Launch Party at Huddersfield Railway Station.  This is the second annual Pageturners Festival which is a joint venture between Kirklees and Calderdale councils - funded by Arts Council England, Reading Matters, the University of Huddersfield, FTPE and Walkers Books.

The Grand Launch Party is held for young people who have a passion for reading and writing and took place in the same week as World Book Day.  A live performance also took place by theatre company, Highly Sprung, who delivered their ‘Off the Page’ act. This will be followed by a writers workshop for 7 to 11 year olds hosted by children’s authors Henrietta Bond and Martin Rothery.

Photo - Station Manager for West Yorkshire, Will Munton along with some of the attendees and actors from the Pageturner's Festival
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We are delighted to have partnered with international charity, Blue Assist, offering customers a new and unique way of asking for assistance.

Customers can now show a blue card to any member of First TransPennine Express (FTPE) staff to ask for assistance, whether relating to a mobility issue or any other need. 

The free cards are now available from all stations served by FTPE and customers can also choose to download a mobile phone app. The cards contain a space where the individual can write on their specific needs or message before presenting this to a member of the FTPE team. 

We are the first UK rail operator to partner with Blue Assist, leading the industry in offering great customer service, particularly to those who might find it difficult to use the railway.  

All of FTPE’s 1200 staff have been trained and briefed to recognise the card and it is hoped that this network wide rollout will lead to more customers having the confidence and reassurance to ask for help if needed.

The launch of the excellent new initiative was marked by an event in Huddersfield on the 3rd February which was attended by the Mayoress of Kirklees, Passenger Focus, Mencap, Dementia UK, ATOC, Network Rail and Northern Rail. 

Local school children from Chatsworth High School and Community College were also invited along to learn more about the scheme and for a special tour of the station. 
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We've been talking to one of our brilliant conductors, Daryl, about his role aboard First TransPennine Express trains! See how he provides fantastic customer service on every journey! http://bit.ly/FTPEfamily
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All the latest news, information and updates on our franchise agreements, new trains project, CSR initiatives and job opportunities.
Introduction

Have you ever wondered what train companies do behind the scenes during disruption to get things back on track? Have you ever wanted more information about how a company like First TransPennine Express (FTPE) goes about planning timetables and reviewing its services? Perhaps you'd like front row seats to some of the biggest meetings on the future of our rail services.

Well, here you can find all the latest news, information and updates on a range of train-related issues, from our franchise agreements to the new trains project that you won't find anywhere else. Feel free to share any information you find on our Google+ page and let us know what you think.