The Anonymous Widower

My First Ride In A Class 769 Train

I went to Cardiff today and had my first ride in a Class 769 train. These pictures summarise my ride on the train between Cardiff Central and Bargoed stations.

So what was it like?

Noise And Vibration

Going up to Bargoed, I deliberately sat as near over the top of the engine as I could.

There was a bit of a whine, but not as much as in a new Class 195 train.

For those, who commuted on Class 319 trains for years on Thameslink, they probably wouldn’t notice much difference.

Performance

For a 100 mph electric train built for running between the flat lands of Bedfordshire and the South Coast over the hillocks of the Downs, the train climbed to Bengoed, which has an altitude of around a thousand feet with a purpose.

But then I have a Porterbrook brochure for these trains and the power source was sized, such that the train would be able to climb the stiffest routes in the UK.

The Interior

It looked to me like the Thameslink interior with new sea covers and plugs to charge a mobile phone.

They could certainly be upgraded a bit further to the standard of the Class 319 trains on the Abbey Line, that I wrote about in A Very Smart Class 319 Train.

A Job To Do

Trains for Wales has acquired these trains for extra capacity, whilst they refurbish their Class 150, 153 and 160 trains.

It looks to me, that they will do this job more than adequately.

Future Uses

I suspect Porterbrook hope that these trains will find uses around the UK, as they have spent a lot of time, effort and money to bring these trains into service.

But there are around eighty of the Class 319 trains in service or in store, from which the Class 769 trains are converted.

So they could find uses in several niche applications.

Short Term Fleets

This is effectively, the Trains for Wales application, where extra trains are provided, so that a fleet refurbishment can be performed.

  • They would surely, have been a better replacement fleet for Greater Anglia, than the three Mark 2 coaches and a pair of diesel locomotives, that they used after a series of level crossing accidents.
  • They could also be used to increase capacity for some major events like the Open Golf or a pop festival.
  • Uniquely, they can stand in for both a 100 mph electric train or a 90 mph diesel train.
  • They can even be fitted with third-rail shoes.
  • They are the right size at four cars.
  • They fit most UK platforms.
  • They can be run in formations of up to twelve cars.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Porterbrook or someone on their behalf, keep a fleet of trains on standby to handle short term needs.

Route Development And Testing

There has been a lot of pressure to open up new routes in recent years and these trains would be ideal to try out routes and test new electrification.

Tri-Mode Services

Great Western Railway have a particular problem with their service between Reading and Gatwick, in that it has some third-rail electrification. As they might like to extend this service to Oxford, an ideal train would be dual-voltage and self-powered.

This extract is from the Great Western Railway section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 769 train.

Although initially planned for use in London and the Thames Valley whilst twelve Class 387 units are modified for Heathrow Express services, the future plan for these units will be operating on services between Oxford, Reading and Gatwick Airport, which would mean operating on unelectrified, 25 kV AC OHLE and 750 V DC third-rail routes. To enable this, Great Western Railway’s allocation of Class 769 units will retain their dual-voltage capability in addition to being fitted with diesel power units. The units will also receive an internal refurbishment and be fitted with air cooling.

I suspect, that they’ll also be used on the Henley, Marlow and Windsor branches, which have some operational problems.

  • The branches are not electrified.
  • Some branches run occasional services to Paddington.
  • The Windsor branch probably needs more capacity.

The Marlow branch could be difficult, but I suspect that, there’s a solution somewhere.

Luxury Bi-Modes

Greater Anglia felt they needed luxury bi-modes for East Anglia and they bought Class 755 trains, which are probably a lot more expensive, as they are brand-new and from Stadler of Switzerland.

Surprisingly, the Class 319 trains have a higher passenger capacity.

But both trains could do a similar task, where the route is partially electrified.

As I said earlier about the GWR units.

The units will also receive an internal refurbishment and be fitted with air cooling.

Porterbrook’s brochure for the Class 769 train talks about using them between Manchester and Buxton.

Surely, this route could do with a Northern version of a GWR interior.

I also think a service should link Hellifield and Buxton. as I wrote about in Why Not Buxton To Hellifield?

That would show what Class 769 trains could do!

It would also connect the Peak District to the hills North of Lancashire.

I might also be, that the standby-fleet should also be the luxury variant of the train. Surely, supporters going to the Open at some of the inaccessible venues could afford pay to pay extra for a comfy train.

Express Freight And Parcels Services

Rail Operations Group would appear to have placed the second-largest order for Class 769 trains, which they will use to launch a high-speed parcels service called Orion.

This extract is from the Rail Operations Group section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 769 train.

Orion is aiming to launch its first trial service conveying parcels and light freight in April 2021, with the Midlands to Mossend now likely to be the debut flow. The company is to use converted Class 319s for the service and is now planning for a fleet of 19 four-car units – nine Class 319s and 10 Class 769s. Arlington Fleet Services at Eastleigh is modifying the interiors of the units to accommodate roller cages for parcels, with the aim of operating primarily under electric power but with the 769s using their diesel engines to act as tractor units for the 319s on non-electrified stretches. The first 769 bi-mode, No 769501, has undergone its Flex conversion at Brush in Loughborough and is due to be outshopped from Arlington at Eastleigh in March following its interior modification.

In Did These Strawberries Have Road- Or Rail-Miles?, I talked about strawberries going between Scotland and London.

Surely, the movement of high-quality food could be one of the cargoes for Orion.

It wouldn’t be the first such traffic, as Class 43 power cars of the InterCity 125s used to carry flowers and fish up to London from Cornwall.

There’s a lot of space in the back of a Class 43 power car.

I certainly feel there are possibilities for using Class 769 trains as high speed parcels transport.

It should be noted that Class 325 trains already run high speed parcel services up and down the country on behalf of Royal Mail. These trains may look like later British Rail trains, but they are in fact based on Class 319 trains.

 

So I doubt, there’ll be any worries that the trains can’t handle the required services after conversion.

Conclusion

It looks to me that Porterbrooks plan to convert numbers of their Class 319 trains into Class 769 trains will find several ready markets.

It could be argued that more carbon savings could be achieved by perhaps a new battery-electric or hydrogen-electric train. But these will take years to develop!

These trains are a good short-term solution, that will help define their zero-carbon successors.

 

 

 

 

June 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It Pays To Complain Politely!

I like Nakd bars.

My favourite was the Cocoa Mint bar, but I was having difficulty getting them.

I complained politely and found out that they had been discontinued.

The company said they’d send a few others for me to try.

I wasn’t expecting a box of nine.

Note the box came in the padded bag on the left, so it came through my letterbox, without needing to be collected from the Post Office.

How many Christmas parcels have to be collected, because companies don’t pack them properly?

 

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Food | , , , | 2 Comments

Islington Has Got A Smart New Post Office

When I came here in 2010, Islington had two Post Offices on Upper Street; an old traditional one by St. Mary’s Church and a rather dodgy structure on the forecourt of Highbury and Islington station.

Both are now gone and a smart new one has opened in a double-fronted shop opposite the Town Hall.

Islington Has Got A Smart New Post Office

Islington Has Got A Smart New Post Office

Peering through the window, it would appear to have all the latest automatic machines to send letters and parcels to Oblivion and everywhere else. According to Livy, Oblivion is defined as the Limia River in Spain.

August 17, 2014 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

Highbury And Islington Post Office Is Now Shut

The convenient Post Office at Highbury and Islington Station has been closed.

To be fair, it had seen better days and its closure probably makes it more likely, that one of the worse stations in London gets developed as a station for the twenty-first century, hopefully with step-free access everywhere.

July 4, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | 3 Comments

Stratford Has A Gold Pillar Box

Stratford has one of the gold pillar box, which have been put up all over the country to honour the Olympics medal winners.

Stratford got its, because this was the nearest box to the Olympic Park.

August 25, 2013 Posted by | Sport, World | , | Leave a comment

Will Anybody Notice?

There is suppose to be another strike in Post Offices this weekend, according to this report on the BBC.

Will anybody actually notice?

The last time, I went into a Post Office was to collect a packet that the postman couldn’t deliver.  I queued for far too long, with most people seemingly buying the odd first class stamp.

I do post the odd parcel, but surely this could be handled by clever automated machines in the wall or by using the good on-line system and then putting the parcel in an oversize post box.

In a year or so, there will hardly be any Post Offices anyway. I have four handy to me and I pass at least one regularly every day.  Isn’t that too many?

August 23, 2013 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment

Royal Mail Iconography

I took these two pictures on Friday and Saturday respectively.

The brickwork has been saved and incorporated into the wall in the new Royal Mail sorting office in Islington and the Penford pillar box is behind the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush.

August 18, 2013 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

What Shall We Do With The Royal Mail?

I get very little useful mail today and haven’t for about ten years. My friends either, e-mail, text or phone me and all of my banks, utilities are on line. The only important post I get is tickets for various events, I’ve ordered on-line or by telephone and the odd small package delivered by the postman, like my INR test strips.

Most of the rest of the mail is junk usually addressed to the Occupier of my house.  Make non-specific junk mail illegal and the Royal Mail would go bust.  The worst offenders are estate agents and Virgin Media. I think I’ll get some cards printed, that I can post to the worst offenders, saying they will be charged £50 for wasting my time, if they send anything more.

Incidentally, I do post letters more regularly than I used to, as I have a post box on the corner.

Most of us love the Royal Mail  and in rural and sparsely populated areas, I will admit, they do perform a regular social service.  But where I live now in Hackney, I wouldn’t even recognise my postman, if I sat next to him in a pub or cafe. We though have a guy, who performs that low-level social service.  We have this very accommodating guy, who keeps the streets clean and tidy, with his barrow and he always wishes you a hello and how are you, every time, you meet him on the street.

The real problem, I have is with parcels and packets, delivered by all of the companies and not just Parcelforce and Royal Mail. Usually, they come early in the morning, when I am still here, but often I return to find a card through the door.

Royal Mail/Parcelforce are in a strong position to create a proper on-line tracking service, as they are generally trusted.

You would need to register your name and address on their site, so that if you were getting a parcel delivery, they could send you an e-mail to say it was coming.  I know some on-line vendors do this, but it often means logging in to a site and entering a tracking number, which means you have to have on-line skills.

Obviously, you wouldn’t always get an e-mail before it arrived, but you could have standing instructions like leave with number 27 or something similar.

A properly designed system would make it more efficient and probably save the Royal Mail money.

The first courier that gets it right and completes the loop between supplier and customer, will make a fortune and clean up.

Privatisation is not the cure, but augmenting the local link with technology may just be.

Just look at how easy it is to track trains and collect tickets at stations, compared to say ten years ago.

May 7, 2013 Posted by | Business, News | , | 2 Comments

A Bad Case Of Oops On Regent Street

You occasionally see post boxes knocked over by an accident.

A Bad Case Of Oops On Regent Street

A Bad Case Of Oops On Regent Street

But this is the first time, I can remember seeing a double one on the skew.

April 18, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

And Now A Pop-Up Post Office!

Camden Market now has a pop-up Post Office until Christmas.  Read about it here in the Standard.

November 30, 2012 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment