Are the class 220/221 voyagers the worst trains on Britain's rails?

Discussion in 'Traction & Rolling Stock' started by PaxmanValenta, 14 Apr 2015.

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  1. PaxmanValenta

    PaxmanValenta Member

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    I can't help but see that the bombardier Voyagers Class 220/221 are the biggest fail on Britain's railways.

    Originally they were meant to be like a diesel version of the Pendolinos with tilt mechanism. The 220 body shell was tapered for this resulting in a cramped claustrophobic passenger cabin despite the fact the 220 was never even intended to tilt. The 221 and 222 had tilting systems but on the 221 they have been removed and tilting bars welded shut.

    The introduction of Voyagers by Virgin on the cross country route in 2003 was set with lots of problems from the onset. Loco hauled MK2 stock had to be brought back into service when the Voyagers failed to have the capacity of the HST and loco hauled trains they replaced. Not to mention many voyagers breaking down on the Dawlish seawall when sea water got into badly engineered roof top electronic systems.

    Another problem is that the Delner couplings were incompatible with all UK locomotives unless they had been specially modified to couple up to all but a small number of adapted locos.
    The good old HSTs by contrast could be rescued by any locomotive even small class 25s could rescue a failed HST! This could lead to long delays until a suitable loco is found to rescue a failed voyager.

    Putting voyagers on the cross country routes was another fail.
    These were the longest UK rail routes from Penzance often as far as Aberdeen.

    1) The passenger cabins are small cramped and claustrophobic designed for tilting which was never even implemented. In any case XC SW to NE routes have so many stops that need to tilt was probably not even necessary unlike on the WC mainline.

    2) Seats don't always line up with windows meaning some passengers being stuck between windows with no views. Not very nice on a 800 mile journey from Penzance to Scotland!

    3) Underfloor engines lead to a lot of noise and vibration in the carriage unlike the much smoother ride given by loco hauled and HST trains.

    4) Sewage smells from the sewage tank are often a problem. I remember travelling from Exeter to Newton Abbot last summer on a Glasgow to Plymouth Voyager, in one coach the aircon had failed. It was very unpleasantly hot inside with a strong smell of sewage. Made worse by a hot underfloor engine. How people coped who had been on the train for 7 or 8 hours? 20 mins was enough for me lol! It was so bad that passengers were being given free bottles of water by train crew. On a larger HST passengers could have been move to another coach and the failed coach shut down.

    5) Seat tray tables are often too small for normal sized laptops.

    The return of a small number of HSTs by XC when they took over Cross country services from Virgin was a godsend and perhaps because XC Realised that the 22X were unsuitable for long journeys. Many passengers far prefer the older trustworthy HST which is more spacious, with a comfortable smooth ride. Sadly less than one fifth of XC services use HSTs.

    I really hope that when FGW stop using HSTs that XC uses the redundant HSTs to replace all their Voyagers.

    But ok some will argue that using 1970s trains is not progressive. So my question is why did they not give up on the tilting idea in the first place and develop a train which has the comfort and space of an HST with compatible couplings?

    Any opinions?
     
    Last edited: 14 Apr 2015
  2. Haydn1971

    Haydn1971 Established Member

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    Nope, Pacers are... The end ;) haha
     
  3. MCR247

    MCR247 Established Member

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    You've made pretty much the same post here do we really need a whole thread on it? You've already made up your mind and what you want is never going to happen so whats the point?

    The tapered body side is nowhere near as bad as you make out. If I personally was claustrophobic and I would find it highly annoying that rail enthusiasts use a genuine problem that people face as a way to slate trains they don't like.
    So original. Never heard this before. Route length doesn't determine how many carriages a train should have.
    Claustrophobic again. :roll: They aren't even that small or cramped
    Again with the journey length! Its still as irrelevant as it was 10 years ago :roll: This isn't actually a problem with the train you know? I could buy some MK3s and refurbish them so that they had poor window alignment. Are MK3s then awful coaches that should be withdrawn ASAP?
    They really aren't that noisy and they don't vibrate that much. Voyagers ride a lot better than HSTs whether you like it or not
    have you ever considered journalism? The daily mail might be interested...
    Again, not a problem with the trains themselves.
     
  4. Minilad

    Minilad Established Member

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    Here we go again.
     
  5. CosherB

    CosherB Established Member

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    wrong wrong wrong ........ not by a million miles. just what is your beef?! :roll:
     
  6. cambsy

    cambsy Member

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    I find Voyagers are ok to travel on, and have done long journeys on them from South West, the 221 Super Voyager used by Virgin West Coast are timed at 125 mph and use their tilt extensively between London and Glasgow and Edinburgh, and to Crewe on Chester etc runs, and some others, the original orders for the 221 and 220 couldn't have known that xc would disable the tilt on the 221.
     
  7. BantamMenace

    BantamMenace Member

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    I'm not going to go through all your points and why i mostly disagree with them but what i will point out is your disillusion that people get on north of Edinburgh and dont get off until south of Plymouth. The XC NE-SW routes serve many smalling journeys such as Leeds - Sheffield/Birmingham/Newcastle, Birmingham-Bristol, etc. Very few if any passengers take the train all the way unless they're enthusiasts. When travelling such a distance people tend to fly or drive with a break in the middle.

    There is a time where everything no matter how great/well liked has had its day, the HSTs days as a commercially viable operation are albeit sadly, coming to an end.

    What XC idealling needs is Plymouth to York electrifying which will become only a small number of medium sized infill schemes after the current round of electrification is complete.

    NOTE: in the time it took me to reply to your OP 5 or so others have already expressed an answer to most of your points
     
    Last edited: 14 Apr 2015
  8. causton

    causton Established Member

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    No, they are not. There you go!
     
  9. Julian W

    Julian W Member

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    Spend a lot of time travelling between Sheffield and Cheltenham and I don't actually mind them - granted, they'd be better as 6/7 coach trains with buffet as opposed to 4/5 but their ride quality is definitely better than an HST. The sewage smell is indeed an issue still, nevertheless.

    I think for wherever they end up they could get a decent rebuild for the interiors to be closer to the 222s still. But as for worst trains on the railways? Try one of the Pacer's on a cold winters night!
     
  10. PaxmanValenta

    PaxmanValenta Member

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    What about non-universal couplings?
     
  11. Minilad

    Minilad Established Member

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    Actually Voyagers are very good trains indeed. Go quick. Stop on a sixpence. Reliable. They are just not suitable for the work they do. But that is mainly due to their length and their interior design. Neither of which is the fault of the train but the fault of who specified them. And the comment about the coupling is wrong. They can couple to any locomotive with a special coupling adapter that is carried on board
     
  12. Haydn1971

    Haydn1971 Established Member

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    I'll beat that, a Pacer on the first run on a cold winter morning !
     
  13. Domh245

    Domh245 Established Member

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    1) The 222s were never designed for tilt, hence the use of the lightweight bogies with an inboard frame. The West Coast 221s still tilt, it is just the XC 221s which don't. The body profiles, as well as the couplers, and various other components were used on both classes to keep costs down, and for ease of maintenance.

    2) The Problem with comparing the Loco Hauled stock and the Voyagers is that they are designed for completely different things! The Loco hauled stuff was for the old timetable, where there were few trains, wheras the voyagers were designed for the operation princess timetable, which gave more frequent trains, whilst having less carriages which gave a similar number of seats per hour. It has since become a victim of it's own success which has meant that they are often busy.

    3) I cannot think of a single train which has been introduced and has worked out of the box absolutely faultlessly, and the voyagers will have been no different.

    4) The couplers are compatible with the 57/3s and the Pendolinos. This is a bit of a case of Virgin prioritising the West Coast over the Cross Country network. Block the WCML and it's VHF services and you are in trouble. Block a XC route, and it is less problematic. Of course, the fact that the 57/3s have now been relieved of thunderbird duties doesn't help.

    5) Underfloor engines do mean a background throbbing to the journey, but they also mean that the train will take off a damn sight quicker than an HST.

    6) I agree with you regarding the sewage, it isn't very good.

    7) Seat/Window alignment seems to mainly be an issue that enthusiasts raise. A lot of people will spend their journeys staring at their screens, be it on a mobile, tablet, or laptop. There are not many seats where the view is completely blocked however. If you really wanted though, you could have a number of seats removed so that the alignment is perfect, but you would then have lost a large amount of seating capacity.

    8) The other argument that is frequently raised on these forums when it comes to rolling stock is the end to end journey argument. Very few people will make journeys from Aberdeen to Penzance, most people use them for significantly shorter journeys, for which they are fine.

    As for the questions at the end, like I mentioned before, the voyagers were both ordered by Virgin, which needed a train like the 221 to operate it's WC services. When it came to the XC order, a huge cost saving could be made by :
    a) making it one tender
    b) using identical parts where possible

    As for the coupling compatibility question, it is a bit of a daft one to be honest. How often does a unit completely fail and need assistance from a loco. That is one of the main benefits to Multiple units - they have a few levels of redundancy built in, so if something fails, there is usually a second one that is still working. Your suggestion about compatible couplings makes me wonder, which coupling? Tightlock (with/without integrated air pipe and electrical connectors), BSI, Scharfenberg, Buffers and Chain? There seems to be no such thing as a standard coupler in the UK at the moment, but we do seem to be heading towards Scharfenberg couplers for Multiple Units (but without standard connections which makes it pretty useless to be honest)
     
  14. LeeLivery

    LeeLivery Member

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    Honestly I prefer Voyagers over the Pacers, 313s and Pendos. How a train with such big windows could be called "claustrophobic" is beyond me and the under floor engines only annoyed me once and that's when a had a splitting headache.

    If Voyagers had interiors like the 222s and had less passengers using them I'm sure this hate for them wouldn't exist.
     
    Last edited: 14 Apr 2015
  15. MCR247

    MCR247 Established Member

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    Also if they hadn't replace loco haul and HSTs
     
  16. 43074

    43074 Established Member

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    The HSTs technically have non universal couplings, which partly explains why HSTs can't work on loco hauled stock. On the nose it's non standard too: an adapter in the HST power car has to be used to connect HST power cars to traditional locos. I would argue the HSTs are no more non standard than the Voyagers.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    And the voyagers haven't been a failure either, shown by the high reliability figures.
     
    Last edited: 14 Apr 2015
  17. Lrd

    Lrd Established Member Jobs & Careers Assistant

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    Do they even need to be able to couple up to everything? AFAIK they are very reliable units. When's the last time that one blocked the mainline due to a fault rather than a third party incident?
     
  18. cjmillsnun

    cjmillsnun Established Member

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    What trains do have universal couplings now?

    None.

    Even the old BR stock had a multitude of different couplings, some had similar couplings mechanically but different electrically (14X/15X are compatible with each other but not with 16X despite both having BSI couplings)

    PEP based stock could only couple with PEP based stock.

    HSTs electrically weren't and aren't compatible with LHCS.

    I could go on.
     
  19. RichW1

    RichW1 Member

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    I think the noise is unacceptable for an Intercity. Most services in Europe are quiter than this and these should never be used on such long distance services. The biggest priblem with Voyagers is the idiots that specified a train to be shorter with less capacity than the 1960's stock or thereabouts it was replacing! Honestly, no European country (correct me if I am worng here) runs 5 coach Intercity's between some of its largest population centres (unless they are double deckers). Absolutely useless train in my view with EVERY journey I have ever been on being cramped because of overcrowding and yes, smelly. Simply crap. People need to pull their heads out of the sand.
    The only saving grace for this train is that it looks good from outside I think! The 222's are better and ALL trains for cross country should have been this length. 10 car Voyager formations are all very well but they still leave one half of the train overcrowded with no through route to ease overcrowding in the other half and it's pot luck whether you get the right length train for the number of people using them. 5 car formations should be banned on any service that connects cities of several million people en-route or more in my view. For small places linking city to country small places like Hull it's fine and should be restricted to those journeys (i.e large city - towns/country routes). Then there's the chamfered bodysides; don't get me started on that!
     
    Last edited: 14 Apr 2015
  20. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    Indeed, I have seen one coupled to a class 58. A Hastings unit could couple to a voyager if it was really needed.

    I don't know, I prefer the Voyagers to the Meridians, but that's mostly because of the seats........
     
  21. Searle

    Searle Established Member

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    Well well well, where do I start

    I've certainly been on services with louder noise levels. If they were so loud to be a health hazard then they would not be allowed to run.

    You haven't been to Eastern Europe then. Zagreb - Belgrade: one train per day, two standard and one first carriage on it.

    Are you only travelling at peak time? Even slightly outside the peaks and the trains are quite spacious.

    Oh great let me just magic some more stock from nothing :roll:

    If passengers spread themselves out throughout the train then it might not be so heavily loaded in one half and "empty" in the other. Even if your scenario is correct, how difficult is it to look in a carriage at a station and move down the train until you get to a lighter loaded carriage?

    Firstly, several million??? :lol: They should be banned? :lol: surely that's making the problem worse?

    Small places like Hull? Hull Paragon has more passenger journeys than many of the places XC serve, like Chesterfield, Stafford and Brockenhurst.

    And I'll back up other people's views that they are not the worst on Britain's rails, they are a good reliable class which do what they need to do; Take people from A to B quickly.
     
  22. telstarbox

    telstarbox Established Member

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    Perhaps they could be replaced with diesel-converted Class 442s?
     
  23. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    Or perhaps some of those lovely looking D-Trains......:lol:
     
  24. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    When is peak on XC?

    There are certain hotspots that are bad on the network throughout the day, not at a confined 7-9 in the morning and 5-7 in the evening. Hotspots in this case meaning 100 mile/ 90 minute stretches - Birmingham to Bristol being a great example.

    As for the other points on voyagers - not a massive fan of them but see little point discussing it, but I couldn't let the above go unchallenged.
     
  25. Searle

    Searle Established Member

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    I'm not going to try and pin a certain peak time on XC because as you say, it's difficult to determine one. However between roughly the times of 10am-4pm and after 8pm, the trains seem to be pretty lightly loaded, a far cry from the "ABSOLUTELY RAMMED" the person I quoted seemed to suggest.
     
  26. alexl92

    alexl92 Established Member

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    I am laughing at 'Seat trays not big enough for most laptops' as an argument. I have a 13" Macbook (any smaller is technically a netbook) and I've never been on a train that has a tray big enough for it to sit comfortably. That isn't what the trays are designed for!
     
  27. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Established Member

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    I used a total of 5 different Voyagers (VT and XC) today between North Wales and Reading.
    Pretty much ideal for the run.
    Apart from getting a bit busy between Birmingham and Reading I saw none of the problems you raise.
    Not ideal exactly, but they do the job.
    The worst bit was the indescribable latte I bought from the XC trolley, complete with clotted dried milk powder.
    I wouldn't blame that on the train.
     
  28. Temple Meads

    Temple Meads Established Member

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    I think that has a large part to play where enthusiasts are concerned....

    Personally I don't mind them *too* much, but they're generally at least a coach too short for the work they do. Oh and the design flaw that allows toilet fumes into the saloons wasn't the best idea....
     
  29. cjmillsnun

    cjmillsnun Established Member

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    To be fair, the trays on FGW HSTs can hold a decent sized laptop.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I'll be blunt I loathe voyagers, but apart from them being in need of a refresh, being cramped and stinking of poo, they do their job very well.

    They move people from A to B reliably and quickly.
     
  30. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I wish more TOCs would adopt the pull out bit on their trays as that seems to make the difference.
     
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