The Anonymous Widower

Arriva Rail North’s New Trains

Arriva Rail North have announced a deal for a future fleet of new trains from privately-owned Spanish manufacturer; CAF.

Class 333 trains from this manufacturer, are already running in the North, so I suspect that Arriva Rail North know a lot about their quality and reliability. As a mere passenger, I’ve found the trains around Leeds to be very acceptable.

In the UK, CAF’s trams run on the Midland Metrolink and in Edinburgh, so CAF is not a manufacturer unknown to the UK.

CAF are proposing their Civity train, which comes in various modules, as summed up by Wikipedia.

The Civity is a modular concept which can be delivered as an Electric multiple unit, Diesel multiple unit, Diesel-electric or Dual mode. This family of trains is designed for 4 different power supplies: 1500 V DC, 3000 V DC, 15 kV AC and 25 kV AC. Each unit has shared motor bogies and a low floor of 860 mm. The design was launched in 2010.

So it would appear that, as a modular design, where DMUs and EMUs will share components and characteristics, it may offer cost savings to an operator.

This data sheet from CAF describes the Civity range. Points to note.

  • It has been designed for standard gauge.
  • There is a UK version called Civity UK.
  • There is a cold-weather version called Civity NORDIC.
  • There is a Russian gauge version. As CAF have sold to Ireland, I suspect there’s an Irish gauge version.
  • Top speed is 160 kph, but 200 kph is available.
  • The list of interior options is wide.

Reading the data sheet, I get the impression that Arriva Rail North are getting standard trains with the features they want.

I don’t know the answer, but I suspect that like the Class 378 trains of the London Overground, the Civity trains can be lengthened or shortened, by adding or removing trailer cars between the two driving cars. This concept has worked so well on the Overground, I doubt that a train manufacturer wouldn’t copy it.

Thus you could have four car DMUs on a route like the Calder Valley Line. When the line gets electrified, you do a bit of swapping and add two electric driving cars and get four-car EMUs and two-car DMUs.

The trains are already in service in three countries; Italy, Latvia and Montenegro, with an order for 120 trains for The Netherlands in the pipeline.

Reading the various articles about the purchase, some worries surface in comments.

One is that do CAF have the capacity to build all the trains required? I think they do for two related reasons.

They are a private company based in the Basque country and it will be a matter of pride on the part of the owners and the region to not fail. This section from Wikipedia about the countries history is interesting.

Since 1958 the company has modernized and enlarged its Beasain plant and expanded its activity to include all kinds of rolling stock. In line with this, in 1969 CAF created its Research and Development Unit, which increased the company’s competitiveness and intensified the focus on in-house technology.

CAF gives the impression, it is an ambitious, technology-led company and I believe the Arriva Rail North and Dutch orders are just steps up the ladder.

Worries are also raised that there aren’t enough trains ordered by Arriva Rail North and that the new trains will not be built in the UK.

On the number of trains, I would tend to agree, but if Arriva Rail North’s business plan is successful, then there will be money to purchase more trains and lengthen the existing ones, just as happened on the London Overground. People seem to forget we live in the New Age of the Train and Tram and the days of inadequate rolling stock orders to please the Treasury are hopefully over.

The fact that the trains will be built in Spain rather than the UK, is not that significant, if you look at what has happened in the motor industry, where a dead industry is now thriving on exports. We may not see any more train factories in the UK, but we do produce good railway technology in certain areas and as trains revive all over the world, there will be opportunities for the best companies manufacturing in the UK.

I would add a question about the order.

Over the next few years, the North will gradually develop a network of electrified trunk lines, which Arriva Rail North will exploit with the Northern Connect sub-brand.

Ever since, I rode the prototype IPEMU at Manningtree, I have believed that the technology has a place in the UK’s rolling stock and especially on routes in the North.

So I do wonder, if CAF have an IPEMU in their stable, as it would be ideal for say the Windermere and Barrow services.

But CAF did have a large hand in the creation of the Seville tram. This is said about the tram’s movement without catenary in Wikipedia.

From the start it was envisaged that part of the Metrocentro system should be able to run free from using the overhead contact wire for power. On several occasions the City of Seville administration had to dismantle the overhead wires to allow, at Easter, processions to pass without restriction; the builder of the rolling stock paid the extra cost for this.

The final system, which is now in use commenced from Holy Week 2011, the system uses advanced technology ACR (Acumulador de Carga Rápida) fast charging batteries -developed and patented by the Spanish company CAF.

As an electrical and control engineer by training, I feel that the modular design of the Civity train, which does include dual-mode trains, could possibly lead to an IPEMU.

Lets face it, Bombardier probably haven’t got much unique IPR in their IPEMU design and batteries and other energy storage devices are used in all sorts of vehicles from racing cars, to hybrid and electric cars and buses.

It’s all about putting the right modules together, to create a fleet of trains that fits the services you want to run.

If you look at the various Northern Connect routes, some could use EMUs, some DMUs and others like Windermere to Manchester Airport could use dual-mode trains.

This is said in an article in Rail Magazine.

The contract is for 31 three-car and 12 four-car electric multiple units, and 25 two-car and 30 three-car diesel multiple units. The carriages will be owned by Eversholt Rail, and all will be in traffic by December 2018.

Using the diagrams on this page on CAF’s web site, this translates into the following.

  • 86 EMU cabs
  • 110 DMU cabs
  • 85 Trailers

Which rather unsurprisingly adds up to 281 cars, the figure given in the article.

The question has to be asked, how many, if any, of the trains will be dual-mode variants, which can run on either overhead wires or on-board diesel engines.

It should be noted that the installed diesel power on a three-car dual-mode train is 200 kW or about the same as that of a single-car Class 153 train, so it might be fine when trundling Between Oxenholme and Windermere, but it is no long-distance charger.

Until we see the full fleet running a full service, we won’t see the actual mix of trains.

I think, that we’ll see other orders for the Civity family of trains in the near future.

Some will be in the UK.

Birmingham, Bristol, East Anglia and South Wales are all places, where a flexible fleet like Arriva Rail North seems to have ordered, will go down well.

If you look at the latest offerings from Alsthom, Bombardier, Hitachi and Siemens, they lack the flexibility of the Civity design.

I think that Arriva Rail North’s order could be more significant than anybody thinks!


January 24, 2016 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,


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