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Old 15th April 2011, 12:50   #1
Relativenewbie
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Default End of the line for locos?

It seems that with the new Hitachi Super Express replacing Intercity 125 and 225 stock there will be no more locomotive drawn trains in regular service in Britain (ie not on heritage or railtour railways). Is this progress, and if so why are loco trains still so common in France, Switzerland, the USA and elsewhere?
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Old 15th April 2011, 12:52   #2
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Because the DfT is run by pepole who listen to salesmen rather than Engineers and Rolling stock planners.
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Old 15th April 2011, 12:54   #3
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At the end of the day a multiple unit will always be a superior option to locomotive hauled stock so there would be no logical reason for a new build of loco and stock.

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Old 15th April 2011, 13:06   #4
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Uh oh, here comes another locos versus units debate *dives for cover*

Multiple units offer greater efficiencies as the increased tractive effort offered through the use of distributed power offers quicker acceleration than a loco hauled formation, and there is a lot less space in the train formation wasted by having a large power unit at the front. The operation of terminal stations can also be made more efficient as there is no need for facilities to be provided for locos to run round a train or be stabled, although of course this issue has been negated through the use of DVTs.

However, these benefits are not as great for lengthy, long distance train services, where the proportion of space wasted by having a loco counts for less of the total train length and there are fewer station stops. Comfort is a much bigger concern on long distance services, which is something that is compromised when sitting above a noisy, rattling diesel engine on a DMU.
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At the end of the day a multiple unit will always be a superior option to locomotive hauled stock so there would be not logical reason for a new build of loco and stock.
Not really. Where a train service runs under the wires for part of its’ journey, it would be more efficient to change over from an electric loco to a diesel loco at a convenient station stop at the limit of electrification than it would to have a diesel engine expending fuel running under the wires, or to have a diesel loco hauling an EMU with all its’ heavy electrical equipment on board when not under the wires, or to have a bi-mode train running off the OHLE when under the wires yet still lugging around heavy diesel engines and fuel.
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Old 15th April 2011, 13:14   #5
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Comfort is a much bigger concern on long distance services, which is something that is compromised when sitting above a noisy, rattling diesel engine on a DMU.
In the case of XC though it's basically a regional DMU service that also provides some long distance journey opportunities. With the number of stops XC services make these days it wouldn't be practical to use a locomotive. I also doubt the majority of the general public care if the engines are underfloor or not.
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Old 15th April 2011, 13:21   #6
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Yeah most of the travelling public couldn’t give a stuff whether the train they’re on has an engine under the carriage or not, as long as the train is on time and fairly tidy internally. A lot of the time I’m not bothered either, but the fact that the intrusion is there at all means that it’s a step down from a quiet, unpowered carriage. Modern EMUs don’t have that same problem of course.

In my opinion, train design should aim to offer a reasonable level of comfort for those making the longest journeys, rather than just being acceptable for the “average” trip length.
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Old 15th April 2011, 13:24   #7
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Fair point well put, the 'enthusiast' loves 'proper trains' (I certainly do!) but the modern world doesn't, and the 'travelling' public just want clean, modern, and punctual ones!
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Old 15th April 2011, 13:27   #8
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I agree that travelling public don't notice or care whether it's a multiple unit or loco-hauled, but I do think they care about noise and vibration. I don't mind loco vs. MU when it's electric traction but DMUs for long distances are miserable.
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Old 15th April 2011, 13:36   #9
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Then youve also got the problem that DMUs of a decent length use more fuel than a loco hauled train. Also if one coach is knackered, at least on a loco hauled train, you just have to take this coach out of the rake (easier if in the depot at the beginning of the day), whereas with MUs, you would have to take the whole train out of service, and possibly end up cancelling trains.

MUs are obviously cheaper to purchase in the short term, and so thats why our privatised railways go for them. Unfortunately in the long term, they are probably going to end up more expensive to maintain (7 engines versus 1 or 2 engines).
Theres also the problem that quite often MUs dont last as long as locos and coaches.
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Yeah most of the travelling public couldn’t give a stuff whether the train they’re on has an engine under the carriage or not, as long as the train is on time and fairly tidy internally. A lot of the time I’m not bothered either, but the fact that the intrusion is there at all means that it’s a step down from a quiet, unpowered carriage. Modern EMUs don’t have that same problem of course.

In my opinion, train design should aim to offer a reasonable level of comfort for those making the longest journeys, rather than just being acceptable for the “average” trip length.
How do we know what the majority of the travelling public prefer? Just because we dont hear them complain, doesnt mean they dont care about underfloor engines. They may prefer unpowered coaches, but just have to put up with underfloor engines.
Also, theres probably a fair few people that dont know any different, and so have never experienced the quietness of a loco hauled train.

Its well known if enthusiasts dont like underfloor engines, because they come on these forums and complain none stop, but the everyday passenger doesnt come on here and complain. So we dont know whether they like them or not.

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Old 15th April 2011, 13:41   #10
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Then youve also got the problem that DMUs of a decent length use more fuel than a loco hauled train. Also if one coach is knackered, at least on a loco hauled train, you just have to take this coach out of the rake (easier if in the depot at the beginning of the day), whereas with MUs, you would have to take the whole train out of service, and possibly end up cancelling trains.
In the present day where loco hauled rakes are often considered as just as much a fixed formation as a multiple unit, the ability to remove a carriage from a rake due to a fault has less relevance than it once did, although undoubtedly it is much easier to do, and still does happen, than the same procedure with a multiple unit. However it is a very useful feature when there is a problem with the traction package: With a loco hauled formation, the “traction package” is the big lump of metal at the front of the train, which can easily be uncoupled from the carriage rake and replaced with a working example, so that the carriage rake stays in service while work can still be carried out on a loco. This happens often with HSTs, class 90s and 91s. If something goes awry with the traction package on a multiple unit, then once again, the whole unit is stuffed and out of service!
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Theres also the problem that quite often MUs dont last as long as locos and coaches.
Yep, with locos and coaches you can replace either the locos or the carriages at different points in their life depending on when they become life expired, rather than renewing the whole lot at once. If there’s fresh horses available but the carriage is still in good nick, then all you need to do is change the horses, and vice versa!
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Old 15th April 2011, 13:42   #11
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Quote:
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I agree that travelling public don't notice or care whether it's a multiple unit or loco-hauled, but I do think they care about noise and vibration. I don't mind loco vs. MU when it's electric traction but DMUs for long distances are miserable.
For example, if traveling between Southampton and Reading, or anywhere else on the XC network, I think the vast majority of passengers would rather travel on a loco hauled service or an HST than a Voyager, simply because the first two options are better suited for long distance travel than a Voyager. This is because the engine noise of a Voyager gets very intrusive after a while, and Voyagers have too little luggage space (although the same can be said for lots of trains these days, including 158s).

Another reason why operators prefer MUs is that they tend to accelerate more quickly than loco-hauled services which means they're easier to path. But I think the main reason why TOCs prefer MUs is because track access charges are lower.
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Old 15th April 2011, 13:43   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fairlie View Post
I agree that travelling public don't notice or care whether it's a multiple unit or loco-hauled, but I do think they care about noise and vibration. I don't mind loco vs. MU when it's electric traction but DMUs for long distances are miserable.
But they do! IF they know there is a deferent option. Look at the Pretendolino. People prefer the space and comfort of the MKIII to the Pendo WHEN they get a choice.

now i am not saying we should use MKIII coaches all the time. They can be cold, noisy and drafty if people leave the drop lights open BUT it should be possible to design a decent modern coach that meets standards and has a similar level of space and comfort. With seats that line up to the windows have all the modern requirements (charging points lap top plugs, ipod docks etc) without looking and feeling like you are travelling on a piece of cardboard in a cave like you do with the pendos.

Bang a decent MODERN loco on the front, fixed formation trains and get the cleaning and watering between turns sorted out and you will be away!

Keep DECENT (!) units for local and regional trains, use proper trains on cross country, inter regional, inter city and long distance trains.

Easy
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Old 15th April 2011, 13:44   #13
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Yep, with locos and coaches you can replace either the locos or the carriages at different points in their life depending on when they become life expired, rather than renewing the whole lot at once. If there’s fresh horses available but the carriage is still in good nick, then all you need to do is change the horses, and vice versa!
Just look at the ex BR Mk2 coaches enjoying a new lease of life in New Zealand: despite being over 30 years old they've been comprehensively rebuilt and are as good as new.
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Old 15th April 2011, 13:44   #14
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How do we know what the majority of the travelling public prefer? Just because we dont hear them complain, doesnt mean they dont care about underfloor engines. They may prefer unpowered coaches, but just have to put up with underfloor engines.
Also, theres probably a fair few people that dont know any different, and so have never experienced the quietness of a loco hauled train.

Its well known if enthusiasts dont like underfloor engines, because they come on these forums and complain none stop, but the everyday passenger doesnt come on here and complain. So we dont know whether they like them or not.
Really, how a train is powered doesn’t matter to most people. It’s just a means of getting from A to B when it is convenient. Whatever is quickest, convenient and clean does the job. If I’m on, say, a twenty minute “jaunt” from New Street to Wolverhampton, I don’t care what sort of train is providing the power. It’s only when the time taken to get from A to B is in the region of four hours or so that I seriously dislike being vibrated about for the duration of the journey.
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Old 15th April 2011, 13:51   #15
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It seems that with the new Hitachi Super Express replacing Intercity 125 and 225 stock [...]
Unless there's been a major last-minute change to the IEP plans, they won't be replacing the 225's.
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