The Anonymous Widower

Conservative Manifesto On The Railways

The Conservative Manifesto says this on railways.

We will focus on creating extra capacity on the railways, which will ease overcrowding, bring new lines and stations, and improve existing routes – including for freight. We will increase services on our main lines and commuter routes, and launch new services to places which are poorly served or host major new housing projects.

This would seem a sensible policy and it is probably very little different to what has been done over the last fifteen years.

  • Quite a few new trains have been procured.
  • New rail and tram lines like the London Overground, the Borders Railway, the Manchester Metrolink, the Midland Metro and others have been opened.
  • Around seventy new stations have been opened.
  • Some lines have been electrified.
  • Some lines have been improved and resignalled.
  • Mechanisms have been developed , so that developers can help to provide stations for their new developments.

But there is one big difference.

A lot of quality trains are now being replaced by new or much better trains in the next few years.

Some of these were built this century and will have plenty of takers, whilst others despite being a lot older have already been earmarked for substantial refurbishment.

Remember that, just as our architects and builders are good at taking ruins and creating high quality dwellings, offices or commercial buildings, our engineers, designers and train building and refurbishment companies are good at taking trains of an advanced age and creating high quality trains and locomotives, as comfortable, reliable, safe and passenger, crew and operator-friendly, as new ones straight from the factory.

In What Train Is This?, I show a refurbished Great Western Railway Class 150 train. This picture shows the quality that can be achieved, by refurbishing a thirty-year-old Mark 3-based train.

Who would complain about this superb refurbishment, which I suspect was done by Great Western Railway’s depot at Laira in Plymouth?

This table summarises what has been planned and what trains are worth saving.

  • Forty of the hundred InterCity 125 sets are being converted into quality four and five carriage trains for ScotRail and Great Western Railway – Equivalent to forty four-car diesel trains.
  • Some InterCity 125 sets might end up as high-speed parcel trains. Although if Scotrail and Great Western Railway prove the Pocket Rocket four-car HST to be viable, other companies may copy the concept.
  • Will the 137 Class 150 trains be refurbished to the standard shown in the picture?
  • The 114 Class 156 trains can be refurbished to a high standard for local routes. – Perhaps half will go to new operators.
  • The twelve Class 170 trains were built in 1999 and will go to another oiperator – Probably equivalent to another six four-car diesel trains,
  • The 72 Class 317 trains are in surprisingly good condition for thirty-year-old trains. They are also 100 mph units and Mark 3-based. If Network Rail were good at electrification, they would find a home. They are seventy-two four-car electric trains.
  • The 86 Class 319 trains will find homes, with some converted into Class 319 Flex bi-mode trains. – Probably equivalent to another thirty four-car trains, of which some would be electric and some bi-mode.
  • The Class 90 locomotives will go to freight operators.
  • The 130 Mark 3 carriages will find a use, as they always do. Chiltern probably need some more.
  • The 100 Class 321 trains could be refurbished and go to another operator. They are 100 four-car electric trains .Some could even be converted to bi-modes.
  • The 10 Class 350 trains were built in 2013 and will go to another operator. They are 10 four-car electric trains.
  • The 26 Class 360 trains were built in 2002 and will go to another operator. They are twenty-one four-car and five five-car electric trains.
  • The 30 Class 379 trains were built in 2010 and will go to another operator. They are thirty four-car electric trains.

The totals in four-car trains are roughly  as follows.

  • Diesels and bi-mode – 100 – 50 already allocated
  • Electric – 170

These totals don’t include all the plans.

What will the new owners of these franchises do?

  • East Midlands
  • London Midland
  • Southeastern
  • South West Trains
  • Wales

Only South West Trains has been settled and it looks they’ll be releasing the new Class 707 trains.

Conclusion

It does look that there could be enough diesel trains.

  • There could be quite a number of Sprinters, Class 170, Class 172 and Class 185 trains, which after refurbishment could be providing excellent service for perhaps another twenty years.
  • The pride of lions in the room will be the shortened InterCity 125s, that Scotrail and First Great Western are creating and introducing in the next couple of years.
  • Will they have cubs or be imitated, by creating rakes of four or five Mark 3 coaches, with a Class 43, Class 68 or Class 88 locomotive at each end?
  • TransPennine Express have already ordered Mark 5 coaches and Class 68 locomotives to do the same thing.
  • A hybrid electric/diesel/battery locomotive could be used with the coaches. Hitachi created such a beast from a Class 43 some years ago and the Germans are experimenting.

Terry Miller should be awarded a posthumous knighthood, as his amazing stop-gap design that saved British Rail forty years ago, could be about to play an encore.

If there is a problem, it is that there are a lot of electric trains.

  • The more recent ones like Class 379, Class 350, Class 360 and Class 707 trains will probably find homes in places like Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Scotland.
  • Surely, Class 379 trains would be ideal on shorter distance services to Manchester Airport, as they were designed for Stansted services.
  • If the Class 319 Flex train is a success, expect to see more of these trains converted to 100 mph dual-voltage four-car bi-modes trains.

There is still a lot of electric trains to be allocated.

The Class 319 Flex train may be based on the forty-year-old Mark 3 coach design, but I believe it fits the specification of the train we need to expand our rail services.

  • 100 mph on either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • 90 mph on diesel.
  • Four-coaches meeting all regulations laid out to the operator’s required configuration.
  • Can work in eight and twelve car formations.
  • Ability to go on virtually all rail lines in the UK.
  • Proven reliable systems.
  • In service by the end of 2017.
  • Liked by the drivers
  • Fits the niche below the five-car Hitachi Class 800 bi-mode.

But above all there are numerous Class 319 trains available for conversion and they are affordable.

If the concept takes off in a big way, then the engineers would just move on to the Class 321 trains.

But there will still be a lot of quality electric trains left over.

They will have to be scrapped or exported, unless Network Rail can get its electrification work into line.

Perhaps we will see limited electrification between existing electrification and major cities and junctions, with services run by bi-mode, battery or diesel trains to jump the missing electrification.

Areas where this approach might work could include.

  • South Yorkshire between Leeds, Wakefield, Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham.
  • North Yorkshire between Leeds, Skipton, Harrogate, Ripon and York.
  • East Yorkshire between Doncaster, Hull, York and Scarborough.
  • Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn, Clitheroe, Burnley, Colne and Hebden Bridge.
  • Southport, Preston, Kirkby, Wigan and Manchester.
  • Crewe, Chester, Wrexham, Shotton and the Wirral.
  • Darlington, Middlesbrough and Teesside.
  • Birmingham, Snow Hill and Camp Hill Lines
  • Edinburgh to Dundee and the branches to Leven and St. Andrews.

Engineering is the Science of the Possible, whereas Politics is Dreaming of the Impossible.

 

 

 

 

May 18, 2017 - Posted by | Travel, World | ,

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