On occasion the "319s Cascade to Northern" thread is waylaid by discussion of 323s and their superior acceleration, etc. I thought it would make sense to have a new thread to discuss the future of the fleet... The 323s are currently appreciated by passengers in both areas where they operate (the unpleasant incident in the West Midlands the other day notwithstanding!). Timetables, platform lengths etc., have in many cases been tailored to the performance and length of these units. Additionally the fleet sizes were specified by a cash-starved BR with little room for improvement in the event of rising passenger numbers, and a possible follow-on order for Airedale/Wharfedale was shelved in favour of 308s, possibly because of approaching privatisation. With the coming improvements in the West Midlands (Redditch frequency, Bromsgrove extension, Chase Line electrification), it's likely that LM will require additional units in the coming years. Platform lengths on the Cross City line are tailored to 6x23m formations, so the only option without additional infrastructure costs would be extra 323s or new build. On Northern, the 323s are used on South Manchester services from Piccadilly to Stoke/Macclesfield; Glossop/Hadfield; and Airport/Alderley Edge/Crewe. Of these three groups, Macclesfield and Stoke are currently timetabled is such a way that 323s are the only suitable traction due to needing to fit between Virgin expresses. There is also an argument for 3-car EMUs for the coming electric services to Preston/Bolton/Blackpool, to allow 6-car peak formations which is the current limit at Salford Crescent. Most solutions (some more amateur than others!) on here involve concentrating all 323s in either Birmingham or Manchester, though both would involve some compromise, especially as there is of course no guarantee of new-build to replace the lost units. Or, the Northern fleet could be cut back to just units for the Stoke and Hadfield lines with 319s serving the Airport and Crewe. If the fleet was to be concentrated in one area I'd be on #TeamManchester due to the issues being about more than just length, though if new-build can be justified as a replacement that would make the matter moot. Putting the Crayonista hat on I'd send the whole fleet 'home' to West Yorkshire with a combination of 333s and New Build for Brum and Manchester! Any thoughts?