The Anonymous Widower

Class 319 Flex Trains And Reopening Newcastle To Ashington

In Reopening Newcastle To Ashington, I suggested that Class 319 Flex trains might be useful in reopening the route to passenger trains.

This map is taken from on the South East Northumberland Rail User Group (SENRUG) web site.

ashingtonnewcastle

The East Coast Main Line is shown in red, with the proposed reopened line in a thick orange.

I have since heard from SENRUG and this is a summary of their e-mail.

  • The line from Newcastle to Ashington takes freight along its entire length.
  • The route between Newcastle and Bedlington and the Choppington Branch is a diversionary route for HSTs.
  • The new Hitachi Class 800 trains will be able to use the Bedlington-Choppington route.
  • SENRUG are promoting Ashington to Butterwell as an extension to the route and a further HST diversion.

The e-mail finishes with this sentence.

Northern tell us the reason why they don’t want electric trains on the Morpeth branch (which is wired) is because they need to consolidate maintenance expertise at Heaton Depot and need flexibility to switch units around from route to route. Thus any new stock for the Ashington route also has to travel on the 3 other routes, all of which also take freight and inter-city type services.

Come in the Class 319 Flex train, the Teessiders, Tynesiders and Wearsiders need you!

  • Newcastle-Morpeth would be run using electric power, with all other lines from Newcastle  using two 390kW rail-proven MAN diesel engines.
  • The trains have a performance as good if not better than a Class 156 train.
  • The trains are four-car and meet all regulations.
  • Back-to-back services through Newcastle, such as Ashington to Sunderland or Middlesborough and Morpeth to Hexham, would be possible.
  • The trains could also work Middlesbrough – Newcastle – Hexham – Carlisle via the Leamside Line, if Northern wanted to open the line in 2019.
  • Northern get their route flexibility from Newcasstle, as the trains could work any route from the city.
  • The standard Class 319 trains have mixed it with big freight trains for thirty years on the Bedpan (Bedford to Brighton via St. Pancras).
  • They can go anywhere that an HST or a Class 156 train can go. So does that include some lines of the Metro?
  • When on the East Coast Main Line, they can up pantograph and cruise at 100 mph, just as they do on the West Coast Main Line now.
  • If any lines have steep gradients, the trains are designed for the 1-in-60 climb up to Buxton after a United-City Derby.

But the biggest advantage of the train, must be that as planners have ideas for new services, so long as the track and signalling are up-to-scratch, it’s just a case of Have Track, Will Travel!

As Northern were part of the writing of the specification for the Class 319 Flex train, I can’t believe that they didn’t take what they could do in the North East into account.

Consider.

  • Northern are developing a similar network using a mix of Class 319 and Class 319 Flex trains linking Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston, based at Allerton Depot in Liverpool.
  • There have been proposals for new stations on the East Coast Main Line between Newcastle and Berwick-on-Tweed. 100 mph Class 319 trains would be ideal for a stopping service between Newcastle and Berwick.
  • Are there possibilities to run services into North Yorkshire?
  • Class 319 Flex trains could work Newcastle to Carlisle.
  • Bishop Auckland, Northallerton, Saltburn, Sunderland and Whitby could be worked from Midlesbrough.

Northern could stable an appropriate mix of Class 319 and Class 319 Flex trains at a convenient depot, deploying as required using the electrified East Coast Main Line.

Could Northern be developing an electric hub concept, as what could happen in the North East could mirror what is happening in the North West?

  • Central depot on an electrified main line, with good high-speed electrified connections to all routes served.
  • A number of four-car 100 mph electric trains- At present they have a total of thirty Class 319 trains.
  • A number of four-car 100 mph bi-mode trains. – At present they have a number of Class 319 Flex trains in development.
  • New routes could be developed using the bi-mode Flex trains.
  • If electrification happens on a route, the electric trains might take over.

But Northern have forty-three Class 331 electric trains on order.

These are three and four car 100 mph trains.. Northern probably have plans for these trains, but they could supplement the fleet at either hub, as routes get more numerous and passenger numbers increase.

A similar electric hub could develop at Leeds.

It looks to be a very flexible philosophy.

At some point in the future, it could happen that all Class 319 trains are the Flex variant and they work in tandem with a bog-standard four-car 100 mph electric multiple unit.

 

March 7, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , , , ,

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