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FGW Night Riviera Sleeper Update Dec 2013


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Just some bits and bobs to report.

Confirmed numbers for the "new" coaches are SLEP 10596 and SO 12142. These "should" be the first delivered as refurbished whenever...... .

September 2014 looks to be the start of the work refurbishing the rest on a one for one basis.

Extra seating coaches will be used on the wed/thur rakes next summer as per this season.

Cornwall Council who are part-funding the work are doiing a mock-up of new style berth but don't know where or when .

08 410 has had Kernewick flags added on buffer beams and under numbers 3 Thursdays ago - not by me !

MTU engine specialists are being employed to do extra exam work when qualified.

 

That's about it for now so Nadelek Lowen !

 

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Aha, thanks Paul and The Modfather. I did reckon they were stored in somewhere like Long Marston but can't find any record or pictures of them (some websites already have them down as FGW allocated which means its even more difficult to trace them!) I know there's a few ex East Anglia Mk3s that were in store there so that could possibly be the SO 12142, but the Sleeper - hmm.

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FURTHUR UPDATE Today confirmation of wi-fi to SLEP by june 2014 and rest of HSTs by sep 14.

 

 

belive new SLEP is currently in IC livery......??

Thanks Paul, I hope those Night Riviera Mk3s will be gaining power sockets at some point but reseating and replacing those IC70s are hopefully the first priority - the recliners on the seats I had on last Wednesday's Night Riviera seemed rather lively, happily sliding around in the middle of the night (not that it mattered too much given the lack of sleep I got from those springs and interesting divert via Chippenham & Melksham kept me up for most of the night!).

 

Are those prototype SLEP & TSO out and in service yet?

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First coaches are out September then done on a one for one basis. Plugs etc have been suggested for part of refurbishment - laptops and streaming/downloads make the "Volvo" TVs redundant in my view and has been suggested to remove them too - final details still not sorted. IC70 seats will definatly be replaced with reclining seats but unfortunately, these may be the current HST ones - which pack up often and don't wear so good so I hope its a totally new design. Current seat backs are a big problem esp. in the TSODs and yes, in one BFO, a spring in one seat squab came through just before Dawlish but has been sorted. Last refurb was now 6 years ago and overall age of day coaches date from 77 so they are doing well considering !!.

 

As stated on my other posts, I submitted some 6 pages of suggestions for refurbishment so im hoping...... !!

 

As part of IEP, all trains are to have CET and sliding exterior doors. Whilst CET is no problem, HOW are we to do the sliding doors as you cant mix them in service. One coach at a time cant be done but we don't have enough stock to take out a complete set...... !! Hire from Scotrail ?? Answers on a postcard to....... !

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Thanks for the update Paul. As you say, it's hard to see how stock could be found to cover for refurbishment. The Scottish sleeper fleet is due either a serious upgrade or replacement under the new sleeper franchise, although the funding for this indicates it's going to be the former, so I can't see any serviceable sleeper stock coming up for grabs in the near future.

 

The power doors proposal is interesting - haven't the Chiltern Mk3 sets had some of the toilets removed? Could it be done on the sleepers without changing the interior layout?

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As far as I'm aware, 57s as well as 43s lack traction interlock which makes life simpler for the sleeper power door issue. If you can refurbish stock with a SDO system which has legacy options for old Mk3 CDL systems then it should be possible to marshal refurbished vehicles at one end and non-refurbished vehicles to the other and use one of the refurbished door control panels to close and lock the power assisted doors whilst also locking the slam doors. This would enable the vehicles to be refurbished one by one and on return they could be marshaled to the refurbished end of the train. Of course the position of the refurbished vehicles may not be ideal for dispatch, but during the refurbishing period additional staff could be brought in to solve such issues.

 

In an ideal world all the Mk3 sleeper stock would be cut up and replaced with new build vehicles as the design is over 40 years old and the vehicles themselves nearly 40 years old. The government has supplied funding for hundreds of new EMUs/DMUs, it's about time they supplied funding for new LHCS, especially with new passenger locomotives being built in the last 15 years (Class 67s and Class 68s).

 

Regards,

 

Jack

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As I understand it the Edinburgh assembly is putting up half the prohjected cost of an all-new build of Caledonian sleepers.  Given there would be interest from FGW or who ever is then running the franchise would there be any benefit in opening communication with a view to an add-on being funded for the Night Riviera?

 

That would potentially secure the future of the service for another generation of rolling stock including some seated / recliner "wakers" as those too will be needed on the Caledonian runs.

 

For present operations the Mk3s are in good enough condition and we are lucky that they were designed and built so robustly.  I'd love to see the Night Riviera running with 8 - 10 vehicles once more every night.  If demand justified that it would be a massive boost for staff morale and for the trains themselves which Westminster and BR-IC tried so hard to kill off by stealth.  I remember well seeing it reduce from that to just 5 and wondering how long it could last .....

 

I'll be making a few trips later in the year and have pencilled in an Exeter - Penzance run in the day coaches as well.

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 The government has supplied funding for hundreds of new EMUs/DMUs, it's about time they supplied funding for new LHCS, especially with new passenger locomotives being built in the last 15 years (Class 67s and Class 68s).

 

 

Why?

 

As has been demonstrated many times over the past decade, loco hauled coaching stock is yesterdays technology. Units with distributed traction are the norm for passenger operations across Europe now and range from Siemens "Velaro" design of high speed unit right through to Alstom's "Coradia LINT" DMU for local services.

 

Even workhorses like the IC225s , HSTs and Anglia's Cl90 +Mk3 combo are living on borrowed time, the former likely to be replaced by IEP units (or their successors in the case of west country services) while Anglia is perfectly suited to a long distance EMU solution in a similar vein to SWTs Cl444 EMUs.

 

The only loco hauled coaching stock any industry professional can envisage continuing on a long term basis is that used in the sleeper trains - which consist of precisely 6 sets in total (two west country rakes, four Scottish rakes) - hardly something manufacturers are going to be rushing to tender for.

 

If we go back to the 67s, the decision to purchase them was based on the assumption that the post office contract would continue well into the future. Somehow I don't think EWS would have gone and ordered 30 of the things only for Royal train duties, Sleeper duties, VOSE excursions and suchlike. As Virgin demonstrated (with their Thunderbird conversions) its perfectly possible to refurbish 47s into 57s for such work at a fraction of the price of buying new. Yes the fact that the 67s exist has no doubt been useful for the likes of Chiltern but the use of 67s on such duties was not even remotely in the minds of EWS when they ordered them back in 1998 - in fact it could be said that Chilterns decision to go for a loco hauled solution did EWS a favour in providing work for a severely underused class.

 

In any case the west country sleeper only really still exists because with the current infrastructure it is imposable to get a conventional train from Penzance, (or Turo, etc) and arrive in time for a 9:00am meeting in London (the same obviously applies in reverse of course). If that were to change - lets say because the Government decided on a HS3 heading west (with a branch to the Taunton area - similar to how the LGV Atlantique splits to serve Brittany & Aquitaine) then that justification might disappear - as has been happening in France over the previous decade or two where the extended TGV network has significantly curtailed its domestic sleeper network.

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In any case the west country sleeper only really still exists because with the current infrastructure it is imposable to get a conventional train from Penzance, (or Turo, etc) and arrive in time for a 9:00am meeting in London (the same obviously applies in reverse of course).

 

It runs because there is a proven commercial demand for the service and as such because it is now written into the franchise which at one stage was not the case.

 

My experience is that, while nightly loadings vary, the down service is generally busier than the up.  Perhaps because it is in fact possible to take a train from Penzance and most major stations on the route to London and arrive around 10.00 which is often considered the bench-mark for longer distance "business" arrival times.  Currently the 05.05 off Penzance is due into Paddington at 10.02.  Before HST operation the same 05.05 arrived at 10.42 (in 1974 for example) and at one stage left Cornwall at 04.45 in order to reach London closer to 10.00.

 

There is also something about overnight travel out of London - sleeping the night to gain a day possibly of one's holiday or possibly after a long day and a relaxing dinner in town.  I know of a fair few people who have enjoyed the latter option and can still arrive home refreshed and more or less ready for the day.  Some passengers use the service to connect with the Scillonian and used to do so for the helicopter connection as well.

 

There are as many reasons why the service is popular as there are passenger using it.  But to suggest the only reason it still exists is because of the journey time is erroneous and missing the mark entirely in my view.  

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Why?

 

As has been demonstrated many times over the past decade, loco hauled coaching stock is yesterdays technology. Units with distributed traction are the norm for passenger operations across Europe now and range from Siemens "Velaro" design of high speed unit right through to Alstom's "Coradia LINT" DMU for local services.

 

Even workhorses like the IC225s , HSTs and Anglia's Cl90 +Mk3 combo are living on borrowed time, the former likely to be replaced by IEP units (or their successors in the case of west country services) while Anglia is perfectly suited to a long distance EMU solution in a similar vein to SWTs Cl444 EMUs.

 

The only loco hauled coaching stock any industry professional can envisage continuing on a long term basis is that used in the sleeper trains - which consist of precisely 6 sets in total (two west country rakes, four Scottish rakes) - hardly something manufacturers are going to be rushing to tender for.

 

If we go back to the 67s, the decision to purchase them was based on the assumption that the post office contract would continue well into the future. Somehow I don't think EWS would have gone and ordered 30 of the things only for Royal train duties, Sleeper duties, VOSE excursions and suchlike. As Virgin demonstrated (with their Thunderbird conversions) its perfectly possible to refurbish 47s into 57s for such work at a fraction of the price of buying new. Yes the fact that the 67s exist has no doubt been useful for the likes of Chiltern but the use of 67s on such duties was not even remotely in the minds of EWS when they ordered them back in 1998 - in fact it could be said that Chilterns decision to go for a loco hauled solution did EWS a favour in providing work for a severely underused class.

 

In any case the west country sleeper only really still exists because with the current infrastructure it is imposable to get a conventional train from Penzance, (or Turo, etc) and arrive in time for a 9:00am meeting in London (the same obviously applies in reverse of course). If that were to change - lets say because the Government decided on a HS3 heading west (with a branch to the Taunton area - similar to how the LGV Atlantique splits to serve Brittany & Aquitaine) then that justification might disappear - as has been happening in France over the previous decade or two where the extended TGV network has significantly curtailed its domestic sleeper network.

 

Look at it this way: Is it highly probably that there will be a requirement for 150(a viable order size)  coaches over the next 25-30 years? I would say yes, not only sleepers, but there are also other front line services using push/pull sets, the Abellio Greater Anglia services, the Chiltern services and Arriva services. First and Virgin have both used LHCS to supplement existing services in recent years. This is not to mention the various charters and railtours which utilise LHCS, for example The Northern Bell.

 

Do we have locomotives to haul new coaching stock for the period of 25-30 years? Yes, there are diesel (67 & 68) as well as potentially new electric locomotives on the way.

 

Is it viable to extend the life of the of a Mk3 for another 25-30 years? No, it's not, 10-15 years at the most.

 

Is it financially viable? Yes, as DMUs and EMUs increase in complexity so does the price tag. A single vehicle of a modern DMU or EMU is fast approaching the cost of a new locomotive. LHCS is also a lot to cheaper to maintain long term than a DMU or EMU.

 

Is there precedent else where is Europe for using existing, recently built locomotives on push/pull services with new coaching stock? Yes, Austria have the Railjet trains, which will total in over 100 sets of push/pull coaches.

 

There is certainly a good case for new coaching stock, especially for the sleeper trains as well as other services. The government should make money available for this purpose and organise TOCs in coming together for their input on the new stock.

 

Regards,

 

Jack

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Financially viable to build sleeping cars?  With such vehicles likely to cost well over £1 million each (and probably a lot more than that for what would inevitably be a small order) it would be very interesting to see how it could be financially justified and I can hardly see Govt throwing money at such a project unless it comes down to marginal seats and pork barrel politics.

 

The Mk3 sleepers were a very close run thing economically and probably still haven't justified their cost.  A replacement vehicle would have to offer a considerable improvement on them with ensuite toilet and shower facilities in at least some compartments as a minimum in order to be competitive.  Such vehicles will be complex to construct (as were the ill-fated so called 'Nightstar' sleeping cars) and equally expensive to maintain with likely high power demand enroute.

 

I suspect that unless 'someone' can afford to refurb and keep going the Mk3 sleeper fleet we are likely to see the end of British regular sleeping car trains when those vehicles reach the end of their economic lives.

 

the only reason any loco hauled coaches are likely to survive will be equally brutal - they will only be needed as long as there aren't sufficient multiple unit vehicles and for as long as any existing stock can be economically maintained.  The BR MK3 jigs are reportedly long since disposed of and I doubt anyone is likely to invest in new jigs for what would at best be a fleet of extreemely limited size although possibly jigs used for m.u. vehicles could be adapted in a reverse of the Mk3 process.

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Every fri and sat sees a full house of 64/80 esp during the summer with pre-booking essential. This summer will see a repeat of the additional seating coaches due to DEMAND and its only a LACK of more SLEPs that does not allow for an increase in train size ! We searched for the additional  SLEP for a long time but alas the remaining off-lease vehicles are - well - just scrap on wheels !

 

A new DMU will not work. Try sleeping above an engine.

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Look at it this way: Is it highly probably that there will be a requirement for 150(a viable order size)  coaches over the next 25-30 years? I would say yes, not only sleepers, but there are also other front line services using push/pull sets, the Abellio Greater Anglia services, the Chiltern services and Arriva services. First and Virgin have both used LHCS to supplement existing services in recent years. This is not to mention the various charters and railtours which utilise LHCS, for example The Northern Bell.

 

Do we have locomotives to haul new coaching stock for the period of 25-30 years? Yes, there are diesel (67 & 68) as well as potentially new electric locomotives on the way.

 

Is it viable to extend the life of the of a Mk3 for another 25-30 years? No, it's not, 10-15 years at the most.

 

Is it financially viable? Yes, as DMUs and EMUs increase in complexity so does the price tag. A single vehicle of a modern DMU or EMU is fast approaching the cost of a new locomotive. LHCS is also a lot to cheaper to maintain long term than a DMU or EMU.

 

Is there precedent else where is Europe for using existing, recently built locomotives on push/pull services with new coaching stock? Yes, Austria have the Railjet trains, which will total in over 100 sets of push/pull coaches.

 

There is certainly a good case for new coaching stock, especially for the sleeper trains as well as other services. The government should make money available for this purpose and organise TOCs in coming together for their input on the new stock.

 

Regards,

 

Jack

 

Firstly you have to forget all talk of charters they do not fall under the remit of the franchise system - neither do any open access operators who happen to start up and decide to use a loco + coach rake solution. The Government has absolutely no obligation towards them whatsoever - if they want to commission a new generation of loco hauled stock then thats up to the individual companies concerned.

 

As regards Anglia - if you check back on the various route utilisation studies then you will find EMUs are the desired solution. This is because (1) the GEML has capacity issues and longer rather than more frequent trains has to be the answer to cope with passenger growth and (2) a loco takes up valuable space that could far more effectively be used by passengers. The fact that the Government has not specified the replacement of the current Cl90 + Mk3 sets doesn't mean the EMU solution won't happen when the finally do.

 

As regards Chiltern, the first thing to remember is that alone amongst franchised operators they secured a 20 year franchise that has allowed them significantly more freedom than other operators. It also gave them the incentive to invest and do things differently - but even here the decision to go for loco hauled stock was more down to the fact that obtaining new DMUs was and remains difficult thanks to EU environmental rules plus the governments electrification strategy. Against this we had a situation where EWS had a under utilised 67 fleet looking for work and there were a number of Mk3s available. It certainly wasn't a case of 'Lets go loco hauled' because they wanted to - rather it was simply a case of what was out there and could be put into service relatively quickly and in the fullness of time I would expect some for of unit solution to emerge (though this might also be tied in with electrification from Marylebone given there are plans to do the Ayno - Leamington anyway).

 

With Virgin, its worth noting they only operate a single rake and that only started life because the Grayrig accident meant they lost a Pendalino and needed a replacement set to cover for the loss. While its true they have kept it on since they got a replacement Pendalino during the recent fleet expansion, they have subsequently found having it does mean they can get involved in a limited amount of charter work as well as providing a use full back up for the fleet.

 

Finally if we consider Ariva - then the only reason the services the MK3s are used on exists is because the Welsh government subsidised it as an 'extra' over and above what was written down in the Franchise specification. When introduced it was very much a trial which would have been dropped if usage didn't meet expectations and new build units are generally not a good idea for trial services. As the years have passed the service has proved its worth and the stock used has been upgraded but it still remains an 'extra' over and above the basic franchise spec that could in theory be withdrawn if the Welsh government drop the extra funding for it. Long term, as with the Anglia or Chiltern operations I would expect units to eventually appear - for example as electrification of the MML and possibly the core cross country network increases you could well end up with Voyagers becoming available for use on the Ariva routes currently employing Mk3s.

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It runs because there is a proven commercial demand for the service and as such because it is now written into the franchise which at one stage was not the case.

 

There are as many reasons why the service is popular as there are passenger using it.  But to suggest the only reason it still exists is because of the journey time is erroneous and missing the mark entirely in my view.  

 

I don't dispute that there are indeed many reasons for travellers using the sleeper service - however if you dig back into the archives its quite clear the only reason the DfT relented on its initial decision to exclude the sleeper service from the franchise requirements was extensive lobbying by the business fraternity to their MPs. Presumably because the south west lacked a voice equivalent to the Scottish Government it was decided that a 'managed decline' was possible with the closure of the service being far more achievable than the Scottish services. Also if you look at it from a strictly numbers point of view (as the DfT will) the sleeper service is terribly inefficient - it uses a bespoke rake of stock that only does one trip a day, requires the Great Western franchise to maintain a small fleet of diesels to haul them and are of no use for anything else given the rest of the franchise uses HST / DMU stock

 

Also using Treasury logic (which is what the DfT do) - if you are not travelling for business and are therefore a leisure traveller you can afford to be flexible in your plans and travel the previous day or do things later in the day so complaints that it would inconvenience such travellers could be ignored. If you are however travelling on business then the DfT has to assume you will have deadlines to meet and things to do that cannot be shifted and unfortunately it remains a fact that it is imposable to be in London by 09:00 in the morning if you are coming from Plymouth & Cornwall without a much earlier departure than is currently provided (not to mention that having to get up at a silly hour of the morning is hardly going to be appreciated by travellers even if a conventional train was provided at that time).

 

Thus if future improvements in the coming decades end up allowing say a 06:00 departure from Plymouth to be in London by 08:00 or a Penzance departure at 06:00 to be in London by 09:00 then the sleeper service will have a much harder time justifying its existence, as is already the case in parts of mainland Europe.

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3 hrs PZ - Pad.......?????

 

Not on a conventional railway.  You'd need a dedicated high-speed line and most intermediate stops to be abandoned in order to achieve an average speed of well over 100mph.  

 

 

 

it is imposable to be in London by 09:00 in the morning if you are coming from Plymouth & Cornwall

 

The 05.53 from Plymouth arrives Paddington at 09.00 in the current timetable.  If you really needed to be in London for 09.00 and couldn't travel overnight it's possible to connect into that from at least eastern Cornwall given a lift to Plymouth.

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3 hrs PZ - Pad.......?????

 

I was using fairly random figures but the point still stands.

 

Mind you I wonder what it could be if say we had a 200mph High Speed line from London to say Westbury or Taunton plus an inland Dawlish diversion.

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As I understand it the Edinburgh assembly is putting up half the prohjected cost of an all-new build of Caledonian sleepers.  Given there would be interest from FGW or who ever is then running the franchise would there be any benefit in opening communication with a view to an add-on being funded for the Night Riviera?

 

That would potentially secure the future of the service for another generation of rolling stock including some seated / recliner "wakers" as those too will be needed on the Caledonian runs.

 

 

If the Scots do go for new-build it will be a unique opportunity to buy new stock for the Night Riviera, and one that should be taken seriously. The unit cost is going to be significantly lower for both sides and as you say it would send out some positive signals about the future of the service. The likely problem as I see it would be to do with the schedule for franchising. Tendering for the Caledonian Sleeper franchise is well advanced but the new GW franchise (with a 7-10 year term) won't be awarded until July 2016.

 

ROSCOs might also be a bit twitchy about funding specialist kit with a 30-year lifespan for a service the DfT has tried to kill off fairly recently. As a sleeper regular I really hope we get new trains, but I think the structure of the industry works against it.

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