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Odd BREL International coach

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16 hours ago, HGR said:

Another issue with playing around with ENS set formations was the self-setup procedure that the TMS (Train Management System) and air-con subsystems used to go through at startup in order to determine which of the three vehicle types each coach in the set was - sleeping, seated or service vehicle. Each had different sensors and equipment that had to be correctly identified and configured by the TMS as it went through its initialisation sequence. Lets just say that the decision-making process wasn't exactly flawless, so sometimes it would incorrectly identify the vehicle type or just flat refuse to believe what it found on the CAN bus that was used for the communication network within the set.


We used an alternative name for this stock back in the days when involved in the development work, but instead of 'night' I'll leave you to guess a word that rhymes with it ! (relies upon a certain pronunciation)


And yes, those magnetic track brakes were a mightily impressive bit of kit, and put the fear of God into the engineering staff at Railtrack. Pity though, I never did get to have a trip out to Vienna when the vehicles went over there for climatic testing.



You would have 'enjoyed' Vienna according to what I heard of what happened on the test because a leak occurred 'somewhere' in the plumbing system f the vehicle being tested.  nota problem for the test but a big problem for whoever had to find and rectify it (if any one ever did.


the whole programme might be best described as a disaster waiting to happen - and much of it did.  The project had got incredibly over specified  (the specifier apparently moved on to another job before the consequences of his activities really began to bit home).  The former MetCam factory in Brum which fitted out  the vehicles - the shells were made in Spain - had got rid of most of its tradesmen before work started on the sleepers and had recruited anybody and everybody to take their place witha consequent effect on progress and quality of work.  They were shiving in VOs (Variation orders) like confetti because the project engineers had to keep making changes to solve problems - the 'best' one was a VO for £16,000 for the design of a towel receptacle to keep the towel dry in the wet shower area.  There was an incredible ampunt of wiringa nad small bore plumbing in some of the vehicles - finding and dealing with any faults would have been a nightmare


Once T I started to get detyails of electrical load for my planning purposes it quickly turned out that on SR dc 3rd rail you simply could get the required total load for the long formations through the pick=ups of the loco. So I  devised the daft sounding - but only possible - plan of splitting the train electrically into two halves and putting a Class 73 on the back purely to provide shoes to pick up current from the 3rd trail (I christened them SETHS - Supplementary ETH Source).  Then a particular engineer who is probably best not mentioned by name selected a load shedding piece of kit for the hotel supply which apart from shedding various bits of load in specified order also shut down the hotel supply down if the supply to the train was interrupted.  There were only so many shutdowns allowed  in an hour and once they were exceeded the thing shut down completely for an hour.  Unfortunately the number of shutdowns on 3rd rail was far less than the number of places where a Class 92 would be gapped between Waterloo and going onto Eurotunnel's 25kv overhead supply:blink:  Plus the temperature limits didn't match UK outdoor ambients for several days of an average year. 


And to cap it all NS engineer's calculated that if the train was stationary drawing hotel supply for 16 coaches for longer than about 30-40 minutes the current draw would start to damage the section of overhead where the panto was sitting.  SNCF were busily withdrawing the only locos that could handle the hotel load of a 16 coach ENS train and the only locos coming into traffic which could do it were the Sybics and they were all allocated to a sector (at that time a new idea in France) which was decidedly unhappy to release any for ENS services.   I had a major row with DB at the European Timetable Conference obver paths we ad been allocated between Kôln and Frankfurt which they wanted for other trains and they didn't believe the train would ever enter service - fortunately the ENS manager was ex DB and he eventually sorted it with them with various promises for the Frankfurt introduction date (which never happened).  The number of stops for loco changes was ridiculous - basically one for every border plus one at each end of the Chunnel (actually the French end changeover would have been at Calais Ville which was equipped with BR AWS to allow the Class 92s to get there).


The highlight however would have been with the first Amsterdam working which would have had EM2 power in Holland - that was all arranged and they could handle the hotel current load. The low light was during the continental test running when somebody took the wrong train (the ENS set) from Tourcoing over the border into Belgium and the Driver who turned up later to take it via another route towards Germany found that his train had vanished - it was duly 'recaptured' and returned from 'somewhere in Belgium'.


So maybe it should come as no surprise that when the project was cancelled we were instructed to destroy all the correspondence and other paperwork that we had relating to the project and train.  i took 'destroy' to mean that it should be removed from the office to somewhere where nobody could see it :)  i think I must have one of only a very few surviving copies of the ENS Operating Manual.  Oh and I've also still got my card pass entitling me to travel on any ENS train between any two stations which it was intended to run from/to.


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17 hours ago, HGR said:


And yes, those magnetic track brakes were a mightily impressive bit of kit, and put the fear of God into the engineering staff at Railtrack. Pity though, I never did get to have a trip out to Vienna when the vehicles went over there for climatic testing.



Track brakes are certainly impressive. On a Berlin-Köln IC, with a 101 at the sharp end, we left Hannover, and had got to about 90(mph) within a few K, then the brakes went on HARD. You know what normal service braking feels like (at least in the UK), and this felt like emergency braking, so I was quietly bracing myself.

We stopped dead in what I'd estimate to be about 4-500M. We stood for a few minutes, there was an announcement, which to my German was nicht verstehen, then off we went again.

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  • 4 weeks later...

For anyone seeking a write up on this vehicle and what BREL was planning , its covered in the August 1984 issue of Rail. Piece confirms it was a mock-up to show off the concept, unbraked and B4 bogies were used as stand-ins.

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