The Anonymous Widower

Who Would Want An Electric Train Powered Only By Diesel?

I have just seen a an early copy of Porterbrook’s brochure for their new Class 319 Flex train.

From one statement, it appears that a diesel-only version of the train is going to be delivered to one operator.

If this is a prototype, this is eminently sensible as the train could be used for the following.

  • Full testing of the diesel power generators and all non-standard systems.
  • Performance Assessment
  • Driver training.
  • Route Proving.
  • Customer reaction.

The prototype could even be run on the example route from Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton and back to validate the route could be handled by the train.

Strangely, it would probably have the capability to do the route faster than the current Class 150 and Class 156 trains, as it is more powerful.

But a diesel-only version could have other uses in the long term.

Route Proving And Testing

Surely, a diesel-only Class 319 Flex train, must have uses, where an operator wants to run a service to check a new route or test a market.

Occasional Services

Events like the Open Golf and Glastonbury create a big demand for travel, often to difficult to access places. A refurbished diesel-only Class 319 Flex could have uses to serve events like these. Or it could be used as a blockade buster or train to by-pass difficulties or cover for rolling stock shortages.

The interior could even be tailored for the use.

Have Direct Rail Services done their sums and found that instead of using two new Class 68 locomotives and a few clapped-out Mark 2 coaches, a diesel-only Class 319 Flex train is better value for themselves and the train operator?

Direct Rail Services certainly seem to be good niche market spotters, as their purchase of the Class 68 locomotives shows!

Small Measurement Train

Would a diesel-only Class 319 Flex train make a smaller version of  the New Measurement Train?

  • It’s diesel powered, so can check all routes and those with power switched off.
  • It can probably run on routes, where the HST-based New Measurement Train can’t.
  • It has a 100 mph capability, so could deploy to an area, where problems have occurred quickly.
  • It’s even got a pantograph well.

Currently, it takes the New Measurement Train about a couple of weeks to check all the lines it can.

From what I’ve read, Network Rail seem to keep adding capability and with the need to check more lines, there must be a need for at least a second train to help the current one.

Would Network Rail do what they have done with other complex specialist equipment and base several around the UK, so that if a possible problem occurs or some new work on the track or overhead wires has been done, engineers can check the line quickly?

Affordable Quality Four-Car Diesel Multiple Unit

There are lines in the UK, like the Heart of Wales Line and the Far North Line, which will never be electrified and need a modern diesel unit with everything customers expect at an affordable price.

Most suitable units like the two-car Class 158 trains and three-car Class 159 trains could be too small for some routes and their current operators have uses for them.

So is a niche for a reliable four-car diesel multiple unit to work all sorts of routes?


When I saw that Porterbrook were going to produce a diesel-only version in their brochure, I was mildly surprised.

But then I was surprised, when I saw Vivarail‘s proposal for the Class 230 train based on old London Underground D78 Stock.

So did one of the operators interested in the Class 230, see the Porterbrook announcement for the Class 319 Flex train, put two and two together and say, a four-car Class 319 Flex would do us just fine. But forget the electrification gubbins!

March 6, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] In Who Would Want An Electric Train Powered Only By Diesel?, I discussed the fact that according to the Porterbrook brochure, […]

    Pingback by The Class 319 Flex Units To Be Class 769 « The Anonymous Widower | May 27, 2017 | Reply

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