The Anonymous Widower

ScotRail Finds A Use For The Unloved Class 153 Trains

Class 153 trains are the unloved members of British Rail’s Sprinter family. I occasionally use one on excursions to Felixstowe, but they are cramped, noisy and slow.

As the pictures show, some are not in bad condition and to be fair, some train operators have tried hard to provide a better level of service.

Greater Anglia still has five Class 153 trains in service and the fact that they will be replaced by three-car Class 755 trains by the end of 2020. You don’t increase capacity by that amount, unless the current one-car trains are overcrowded or you know that there is a lot of untapped demand on the route.

If on the Felixstowe Branch, a doubling of capacity would have been sufficient, then surely a refurbished two-car Class 150, 156 or 170 train, would have been a more than adequate replacement.

Currently, there are seventy of these trains in service and many of them, like those in East Anglia are being replaced with new or refurbished trains.

Greater Anglia’s five units are going to Wales, where they will join another eight on rural lines in West Wales. Nothing has ben said about how they will be used, but they could be used singly, in pairs or in multiple with Class 15x or Class 17x trains.

So they could be useful to the Welsh in providing extra capacity.

In the November 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, Alex Hynes of ScotRail talks about how a number of Class 153 trains will be used to add bicycle space to trains on some of Scotland’s scenic routes. Alex Hynes is quoted as saying.

The interior format is yet to be fixed, but is likely to include a large amount of space given over to bicycles. Bike tourism is a growing area and the aim would be to allay fears about whether or not you’d get your bike on a train by providing plenty of space. Part of the vehicle might be given over to a lounge car layout to make the most of the magnificent views on these routes.

Transport Scotland sees the scenic routes as a key part of the rural economy for the part they play in stimulating tourism.

Our inspiration is to get “158s” on the West Highland route.

So it looks like ScotRail could be running Class 158/Class 153 pairs to provide increased capacity on the West Highland Line.

Wikipedia says this about the use of the Class 153 trains on the West Highland Line.

These single car units are to be completely adapted to accommodate bikes, skis and other outdoor equipment.

They will be attached to the Class 156s either as centre cars, or as extra coaches at either end.

If ScotRail’s scheme is a success, I suspect more of the Class 153 trains could end up doing the same task, in Wales, the South West and North of England.

It should also be noted, with respect to bicycle tourism, that ScotRail’s shortened HSTs will hopefully retain their bicycle swallowing abilities in the back ends of the power cars, thus enabling bicycle tourists to do the longer Scottish journeys with ease.

My one worry about bicycle tourism in Scotland and Wales is not concerned with trains internally, but with getting there from other parts of the UK with a heavily-loaded bicycle.

With the replacement of the HSTs and InterCity 225 from the London to Edinburgh and London to Wales and the West routes, will the new Class 800 trains have enough bicycle capacity? The bicycle storage on these trains look to be a good design for a racing bicycle, but some of the heavily-loaded bicycle tourists I’ve seen in Suffolk, would find them inadequate.

This article in The Guardian is entitled New High-Speed Trains Go Slow On Provision For Cyclists.

The article is critical.

I wonder what provision has been made for bicycles on the new rolling stock for the Caledonian Sleeper?



October 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Porterbrook Targets OffLease DMU Class 153s As ‘Capacity-Busters’

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 851 of Rail Magazine.

I wrote about my visit to the new Kenilworth station in Kenilworth Station – 1st May 2018.

I travelled between Coventry and Kenilworth stations in a well-turned out Class 153 train.

The pictures show it is no scrapyard special.

As the article says, Porterbrook own thirteen of these trains and they are looking at ways of using them profitably for a few more years.

The article suggests these uses.

  • Reforming them as two-car Class 155 trains, which is how they were built.
  • Inserting them into other DMUs.
  • Converting them to luggage/cycle-carrying vehicles.

When I was at Oxenholme Lake District station on Monday, a Class 153 train, was being used to convert two-car Class 156 train into a three-car train, to increase capacity on the Windermere Branch Line.

Many of the Class 153 trains are due to be replaced in the next few years and as there are seventy in total, there will need to be a lot of good ideas.

Route Development

For a start, there is the job the single Class 153 train is doing at Kenilworth, which is route testing and development.

  • Drivers are being trained on the route.
  • Systems are being tested.
  • Passengers have a train service, they can use.

On the Kenilworth route, it doesn’t matter if it is too small a train, as in a couple of months a ten-year-old Class 172 train should be available to double the capacity.

Stand-In Trains

East Anglia has a problem with trains being severely damaged in level-crossing accidents.

Pairs of Class 153 trains could be used as stand-in trains on many branch lines.

Network Rail Uses

Don’t underestimate the uses that Network Rail will find for the trains!


I think that some of the uses will  e very innovative.


May 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments