The Anonymous Widower

Innovative Engineering To Recycle Trains

I often refer to Pacers; Class 142 and Class 144 as scrapyard specials. They were built in the late 1980s and some units will be thirty years old next year. They have not worn well and they don’t meet the modern disability regulations.

The London Underground D78 Stock is a few years older and after a major refurbishment a few years ago, the trains are still running on the District Line. I travel on them regularly and although they are not as nice as the new S Stock, they still provide an adequate and reliable service across London.

It wouldn’t seem logical to replace the elderly Pacers with rebuilt D78 Stock that was even older.

On the other hand, a group of very experienced railway personnel who feel that these 75 third rail electric trains can with the addition of a couple of automotive diesel engines be converted into diesel multiple-units.

It sounds crazy, but the realisations on the Vivarail website of what they have called the D-train look good. They also don’t look like a D78 to those who don’t know them well. They will even have wi-fi!

To paraphrase one of my own sayings.

Politicians have a theory and try and prove it, engineers have a problem and solve it.

Roger Ford in Modern Railways for December is reporting that in six months time, there will be a demonstrator. He says this.

If anyone can make D78 stock conversion commercially viable, it is this battle-hardened bunch of veterans.

As Roger also reports they have spent a seven figure sum on buying the trains, I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing at least some of these trains for a long time.

In the article and the Vivarail web site, what I see as a big advantage of the trains is not mentioned.

Some estimates say that we need upwards of fifty replacement trains for the Pacers. And that is about the size of the fleet that could be created.

With George Osborne needing an affordable project that benefits many different areas of the country, it would appear that the D-train has arrived exactly on time.

The biggest problem could be getting the public to believe that re-manufactured nearly forty year old trains are up to the job. But at least, as with the Parry People Mover, it’s a train that can be put into service on a real railway to charm the public.

In the same magazine, there is also an article about rescuing some Class 56 locomotives and returning them to active service.

In the UK, we have a shortage of diesel locomotives for freight. We’ve even used a preserved Class 55 Deltic to haul commercial bauxite trains and you sometimes see pairs of Class 20 locomotives like this doing real work. The article explains how new locomotives get used on the premium high-value trains, but for pulling things like engineering and work trains, they are expensive.

A company called UK Rail Leasing has acquired fifteen and intend to return some to service. There is talk in the article about fitting modern engines. But then they did that with that other relic of the 1970s the InterCity125.

Both of these stories are in some ways a tribute to our rail engineering skills of thirty years and more ago.

 

 

November 27, 2014 - Posted by | Travel | , , , , ,

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