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GWR to lease ‘tri-mode’ class 769 multiple units from Porterbrook


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GREAT Western Railway (GWR) has reached an agreement with Porterbrook Leasing to lease 19 class 769 Flex multiple units, which will be capable of operating under diesel, 750V dc third rail and 25kV ac overhead electric power.

 

The trains will enter service in spring 2019 [and] will primarily be employed on Reading - Gatwick Airport and Reading - Oxford services.

 

https://www.railjournal.com/index.php/rolling-stock/gwr-to-lease-tri-mode-class-769-multiple-units-from-porterbrook.html

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Where does one start with this nest of vipers....  It has everything you could want - (expensively) repurposed asset, replacement of younger with older trains, a whiff of desperation, and enough technical elements to keep the armchair consultants occupied for days.  

 

I mean, it's been on the drawing board for the best part of three years, so it's not short of challenges  :angel:

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In fairness to the class 319 I do think their ride quality is better than the newer class 350. OK they are much worse in every other way and some of the LNWR examples sound like they are about to die or blow up but they do ride better.

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I don't have all the figures but it seems strange that this is a better option than a fill-in electrification of the North Downs line.

 

A good deal of cant involved, I suspect, with third-rail now being unfashionable. I think there is less than 30 route miles to be filled in, offering substantial advantages in fleet economies if only the franchises weren't so stupidly split. L&SE/NSE justified whole schemes on better utilisation - vide Hastings, East Grinstead and Howard's Way. 

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Usually I defend our railways and genuinely believe that they are much better than many think and also much better relative to most overseas railways than most seem to think. However in the case of electrification I think the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

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Much, I suspect, depends on which franchise this line is allocated to. As part of the GW franchise, which isn't up for renewal until 2022, Reading - Redhill/Gatwick is something of a oddity, extending well outside of territory, with odd crewing arrangements and needing a fleet of diesel trains to be retained. At the same time, the 165/166 stock is part of the great cascade.Given that rolling stock is now leased rather than owned, getting in a fleet of 769s is a potential short term solution pending refranchising.

Infilling the third-rail gaps would make more sense if the service were to be transferred to Southern, whose fleet is predominantly 750V DC electric to start with.

 

Jim

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I don't have all the figures but it seems strange that this is a better option than a fill-in electrification of the North Downs line.

 

And how long do you think that would take in todays climate where

 

(i) NR have been making a right pig of electrification so far

(ii) The ORR have been VERY CLEAR - THEY WILL NOT PERMIT ANY NEW 3rd RAIL ELECTRIFICATION citing H&S grounds

 

What NSE or BR may have planned or verified as having a positive business case is irrelevant - the regulatory environment has moved on.

 

By contrast the 319 conversions can be up and running within a year or so - and so can help with the general rolling stock reshuffles / cascades required thanks to the looming 2020 deadline as regards rail vehicle accessibility regulations

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By contrast the 319 conversions can be up and running within a year or so - and so can help with the general rolling stock reshuffles / cascades required thanks to the looming 2020 deadline as regards rail vehicle accessibility regulations

3rd rail is permitted for fill in electrification which is exactly what this would be.

 

How are all the other 769s doing which are already in service?

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How long does anybody think it will be before there is a tri mode bombardier unit in the catalog? After all, there is a market for one now. Up north can have the 30 year old conversions to save the costs of putting wires up, but a commuter into London? Bet the franchise renewal includes a electro diesel version of the 387 for use on these lines.

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3rd rail is permitted for fill in electrification which is exactly what this would be.

 

 

No its not! Can we stop pedalling this myth

 

The Official ORR policy quite clearly states:-

 

"There is a presumption against the reasonable practicability of new build or extended DC third rail in view of the safety requirements duty holders must satisfy in order to justify the use of third rail" (http://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/17621/dc-electrification-policy-statement.pdf
 
Last time I looked the installation of 20 odd miles of conductor rail counts as both 'new' and 'extended'
 
True, it is not a 'ban' on substantive new conductor rail electrification - but you don't need to ban things outright if you put enough regulatory hurdles in the way to discourage any particular activity.
 
Thus the only effective exemptions the ORR will accept to their aforementioned policy today is where track remodelling requires the limited provision of new 3rd rail - for example the construction of the new Thameslink depot at Three Bridges or the construction of Platform zero at Redhill. Adding conductor rail to the Reigate - Guildford and Ash - Wokingham sections is not in the same league and will not be tolerated - particularly in an era where bi-modes are seen as the solution to everything by the DfT and where NR is seen as being incompetent in handling electrification.
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How are all the other 769s doing which are already in service?

 

So far no 769s are in use - BUT that is reported to be due to the use of substandard steel when BR built the 319 bodyshells 30 odd years ago and the consequent need for remedial work on the underframes to take the additional weight. Based on the construction paperwork and design drawings this shouldn't have been necessary.

 

In other words the delays have nothing to do with the bi-mode (or should that be tri-mode) proposals themselves.

Edited by phil-b259
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And no space for underslung engines

 

However its not beyond the whit of man to provide such space in future designs. Indeed with the UK Government's about turn on electrification (plus the general move to embrace bi-mode designs across Europe) having a Bi-mode design in Bombardiers range would enable them to compete more effectively against the likes of Stadler

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No its not! Can we stop pedalling this myth

 

The Official ORR policy quite clearly states:-

 

"There is a presumption against the reasonable practicability of new build or extended DC third rail in view of the safety requirements duty holders must satisfy in order to justify the use of third rail" (http://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/17621/dc-electrification-policy-statement.pdf
 
Last time I looked the installation of 20 odd miles of conductor rail counts as both 'new' and 'extended'
 
True, it is not a 'ban' on substantive new conductor rail electrification - but you don't need to ban things outright if you put enough regulatory hurdles in the way to discourage any particular activity.
 
Thus the only effective exemptions the ORR will accept to their aforementioned policy today is where track remodelling requires the limited provision of new 3rd rail - for example the construction of the new Thameslink depot at Three Bridges or the construction of Platform zero at Redhill. Adding conductor rail to the Reigate - Guildford and Ash - Wokingham sections is not in the same league and will not be tolerated - particularly in an era where bi-modes are seen as the solution to everything by the DfT and where NR is seen as being incompetent in handling electrification.

 

 

Does anybody know how many people are killed or injured per year due to the third rail for every mile of 3rd rail track in the UK?

 

(As opposed, say, to every mile of road which, last time I looked, we were still allowed to build).

 

I get the impression that something that sounds ludicrously dangerous actually isn't particularly in practice.

 

Does this mean that it's now effectively impossible to extend any London Underground lines, or are they not covered by the ORR ruling?

 

A tri-mode would make a lot of sense for Cardiff to Portsmouth Harbour once the wires are up to Cardiff . 25 kV overhead to Bristol (almost), then diesel to Southampton, and onto the third rail as far as Portsmouth Harbour.

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...Infilling the third-rail gaps would make more sense if the service were to be transferred to Southern, whose fleet is predominantly 750V DC electric to start with.

 

 

 

Transferring this route to Southern is often suggested, but why not South Western?

After all the majority of the route is in SW territory and Reading is also a SW terminus.

The route doesn't hit the Southern area until east of Dorking.

 

 

 

.

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So far no 769s are in use - BUT that is reported to be due to the use of substandard steel when BR built the 319 bodyshells 30 odd years ago and the consequent need for remedial work on the underframes to take the additional weight. Based on the construction paperwork and design drawings this shouldn't have been necessary.

 

In other words the delays have nothing to do with the bi-mode (or should that be tri-mode) proposals themselves.

 

There was a problem with how to balance the power outputs from the two diesel-alternator sets.  Finding a solution to that has caused most of the delay.

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Does anybody know how many people are killed or injured per year due to the third rail for every mile of 3rd rail track in the UK?

 

(As opposed, say, to every mile of road which, last time I looked, we were still allowed to build).

 

I get the impression that something that sounds ludicrously dangerous actually isn't particularly in practice.

 

Does this mean that it's now effectively impossible to extend any London Underground lines, or are they not covered by the ORR ruling?

 

 

London Underground are, and always have been subject to the ORR ruling, BUT they do have a number of mitigating circumstances which NR does not.

 

(i) All current / proposed extensions to the 'tube' network (with the exception of the Croxley link - that not for the first time is basically dead in the water now*) are physically underground.

(ii) They have no level crossings / footpath crossings on their electrified  network

(iii) The power gets cut every night for engineering / routine maintenance work thus staff are less likely to work in close proximity to it

(iv) The standard of lineside fencing is far higher than what currently exists on NR in rural areas

 

* https://www.londonreconnections.com/2017/the-metropolitan-line-extension-deadline-day/

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Does anybody know how many people are killed or injured per year due to the third rail for every mile of 3rd rail track in the UK?

 

(As opposed, say, to every mile of road which, last time I looked, we were still allowed to build).

 

I get the impression that something that sounds ludicrously dangerous actually isn't particularly in practice.

 

Does this mean that it's now effectively impossible to extend any London Underground lines, or are they not covered by the ORR ruling?

 

A tri-mode would make a lot of sense for Cardiff to Portsmouth Harbour once the wires are up to Cardiff . 25 kV overhead to Bristol (almost), then diesel to Southampton, and onto the third rail as far as Portsmouth Harbour.

It’s not as simple as people may think.

As a manager who sends 50 odd staff out to work next to live 3rd rail every day I have to satisfy myself and my team that things are safe. There are lots of constraints to consider, more than I think most would think of. 3rd rail is obsolete, there are no plans to continue installing, it’s dangerous and a nightmare for planning and maintenance.

You’d be very surprised as to how many track workers per year get injured, be it a flash up or worse, contact. It’s a separate set of competencies to keep up on also. We on P-Way regularly need to be in close proximity, be it broken fish plates, bolts, geometry faults etc. We have the conductor rail shields but they are not 100% fool proof.

There are always lessons learnt, but still incidents happen.

 

Consider it this way,

 

Members of the public, we would like to put a 750v live and exposed electrical conductor on the pavement. If you touch it, it’s likly you will be killed but be careful and all will be ok.

The pavement is an area you need to use as it’s part of your day to day life.

 

This is what it is for us on the railway, not only that we have other safety critical tasks to do.

 

What is here will be around for a long time as it is cost prohibitive to replace but I for one am thankful that ORR and NR have decided 3rd expansion and Infilling is done.

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Transferring this route to Southern is often suggested, but why not South Western?

After all the majority of the route is in SW territory and Reading is also a SW terminus.

The route doesn't hit the Southern area until east of Dorking.

 

 

 

.

 

Its all to do with where the train fleet was / is based.

 

Back in NSE days, the Reading - Tonbridge / Gatwick route was given over to the 'Thames' division as the rolling stock used was Western region DMMUs maintained at Reading. In time these got replaced by the new 165s / 166s working out of Reading and this remained unchanged on privatisation so naturally the route remained with GWR.

 

Thing is if you look at it logically, the nearest SWR diesel depot to the route is Salisbury! - and that doesn't have much by the way of spare capacity to take on other work.

 

Meanwhile the nearest Southern depot (Selhust) struggles to cope with the work it currently has, let alone taking on more. Plus it is also some distance from the route too

 

There is also the little matter of things like the physical depot infrastructure including fuelling facilities - originally those at Selhurst could only cope with the Southern DEMUs - and while they have since been changed to suit the 171s, I bet the Turbos are totally different

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It’s not as simple as people may think.

As a manager who sends 50 odd staff out to work next to live 3rd rail every day I have to satisfy myself and my team that things are safe. There are lots of constraints to consider, more than I think most would think of. 3rd rail is obsolete, there are no plans to continue installing, it’s dangerous and a nightmare for planning and maintenance.

You’d be very surprised as to how many track workers per year get injured, be it a flash up or worse, contact. It’s a separate set of competencies to keep up on also. We on P-Way regularly need to be in close proximity, be it broken fish plates, bolts, geometry faults etc. We have the conductor rail shields but they are not 100% fool proof.

There are always lessons learnt, but still incidents happen.

 

Consider it this way,

 

Members of the public, we would like to put a 750v live and exposed electrical conductor on the pavement. If you touch it, it’s likly you will be killed but be careful and all will be ok.

The pavement is an area you need to use as it’s part of your day to day life.

 

This is what it is for us on the railway, not only that we have other safety critical tasks to do.

 

What is here will be around for a long time as it is cost prohibitive to replace but I for one am thankful that ORR and NR have decided 3rd expansion and Infilling is done.

 

Well said.

 

I would love to know how many of those on here who seem to think its not a problem actually have to WORK with it feet or inches away from you every day!

 

One of the big problems the workforce continues to face is when managers, or politicians, or enthusiasts refuse to listen to the concerns of front line workers - who simply get told "stop fussing its perfectly safe" Just as the concerns of Guards and Drivers should not be ignored with respect to DOO, the same holds true for track workers when it comes to conductor rail.

Edited by phil-b259
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How far apart are the stops on the Reading-Gatport Airwick service? I'm just wondering if. instead of diesel, whether battery technology, with short sections of overhead charging rail similar to those used by the new generation of electric buses might offer an all-electric possibility? There again, I suppose the station dwell time whilst it takes a booster charge might be an issue.

 

The battery powered 379 seemed to work fine and there are several examples of heavy rail BEMUs in Japan.

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