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Class 197 Civity DMUs for TfW - alternatives and speculation

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Rhydgaled

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Getting back to the 197's given the current lack of electrification on lines that these trains will be used on makes them a reasonably good choice in my view
Leaving aside the need to decarbonise for a moment, then alot of the fleet decisions made by TfW and/or KeolisAmey start to make a whole lot more sense. Wasting energy by scrapping fleets (158s and in particular 175s) before they are life-expired is of little concern in that scenario and if there is to be no more electrification at all then the diesel-mechanical design of the class 197s probably offers the lowest running costs and the uniform fleet would help in that regard too. If we didn't care about greenhouse gas emmissions, the only poor choices are above the 'solebar' primarily the reduction in toilets, table bays and (compared to 175s) seat pitch and the poor window alignment. Assuming the seats are the same Sophias found on the class 800/802 fleets, as seems highly likely, those were also a poor choice. Reducing the seating capacity below that of a 175 to accomodate the additional tables, toilets and legroom needed would also be a poor choice. The only solution is to reduce the width of the doors to that of a 175, but I'm happy for one of them to be towards the middle of the carriage if that helps with dwell times. With the class 197 vehicles being if anything slightly longer than those on a 175 it should be possible to provide the same level of facilities; the class 197 fails to do so.

personally doubt that vast amount of the routes that these will be used on will be electrified in the next 20 years, and while they are Diesel they will meet the latest emission standards which by all accounts are pretty good at eliminating harmful emissions, but many don't want to listen to that due to the demonisation of diesel by the government and the various diesel gate scandals from the car companies.
They appear to be pretty good at eliminating those emissions that are harmful to human health if inhaled (eg. NOX). However they will still be chucking out CO2 not just for the next 20 years but for 30 or more (class 150s will last at least 40 years and at least one ROSCO is quoting typical life expectancy for a train as 35 years). CO2 emissions are still harmful emissions - they're just harmful in a very different way. If it was just the 197s it would be less of a problem, but with the 195s and 196s we have a sizable DMU fleet with little prospect of convertion to bi-mode. The Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy recognises that some rural routes will in all probability never be wired, but virtually all routes would be partially under the wires. Across the whole of GB, just 21 daily diagrams don't appear to have enough under wires running to benefit from a pantograph.

You don't need to electrify all that much to make ordering so many 197s look like a mistake. Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury is a tiny part of the TfW network, but wire that and you have to decide between burning diesel under the wires for that extra distance or replacing at the very least the 21 ETCS-equiped units and possibly a few of the non-fitted units as well if the Holyhead-Birmingham service is formed of unfitted units. This is one reason I think it's better to hang on to the 158s until 2030 and then replace them with bi-modes; if wires from Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury aren't imminent by then we are probably in serious trouble climate-wise by then - not because of the emissions from that section specifically but because of the prevailing government attitude it suggests.
 
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37424

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Leaving aside the need to decarbonise for a moment, then alot of the fleet decisions made by TfW and/or KeolisAmey start to make a whole lot more sense. Wasting energy by scrapping fleets (158s and in particular 175s) before they are life-expired is of little concern in that scenario and if there is to be no more electrification at all then the diesel-mechanical design of the class 197s probably offers the lowest running costs and the uniform fleet would help in that regard too. If we didn't care about greenhouse gas emmissions, the only poor choices are above the 'solebar' primarily the reduction in toilets, table bays and (compared to 175s) seat pitch and the poor window alignment. Assuming the seats are the same Sophias found on the class 800/802 fleets, as seems highly likely, those were also a poor choice. Reducing the seating capacity below that of a 175 to accomodate the additional tables, toilets and legroom needed would also be a poor choice. The only solution is to reduce the width of the doors to that of a 175, but I'm happy for one of them to be towards the middle of the carriage if that helps with dwell times. With the class 197 vehicles being if anything slightly longer than those on a 175 it should be possible to provide the same level of facilities; the class 197 fails to do so.

They appear to be pretty good at eliminating those emissions that are harmful to human health if inhaled (eg. NOX). However they will still be chucking out CO2 not just for the next 20 years but for 30 or more (class 150s will last at least 40 years and at least one ROSCO is quoting typical life expectancy for a train as 35 years). CO2 emissions are still harmful emissions - they're just harmful in a very different way. If it was just the 197s it would be less of a problem, but with the 195s and 196s we have a sizable DMU fleet with little prospect of convertion to bi-mode. The Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy recognises that some rural routes will in all probability never be wired, but virtually all routes would be partially under the wires. Across the whole of GB, just 21 daily diagrams don't appear to have enough under wires running to benefit from a pantograph.

You don't need to electrify all that much to make ordering so many 197s look like a mistake. Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury is a tiny part of the TfW network, but wire that and you have to decide between burning diesel under the wires for that extra distance or replacing at the very least the 21 ETCS-equiped units and possibly a few of the non-fitted units as well if the Holyhead-Birmingham service is formed of unfitted units. This is one reason I think it's better to hang on to the 158s until 2030 and then replace them with bi-modes; if wires from Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury aren't imminent by then we are probably in serious trouble climate-wise by then - not because of the emissions from that section specifically but because of the prevailing government attitude it suggests.
Well you say 150's can last 40 years well I suppose they can if pushed although I gather some of the Northern Units took a fair bit of work to make then fit for another 10 years, I think 30 years is a more realistic lifecycle for DMU's OK the 158's maybe a bit longer being less prone to Tin Worm. Your 197's are going to be much more environmentally friendly in terms of local pollution than your DMU's with 30 year old engines. Its possible that some of the 158's and 175's may get cascaded to other TOC's eg. Northern to replace even more clapped out 1st gen Sprinters in anyway.

Even if you electrify Wolverhampton Shrewsbury I expect the pollution generated by still running 197's over that section will be comparatively small compared to 20 year old gas guzzling XC Voyagers currently running over the East and West Coast mainlines, but I doubt there will be a rush to replace them on environmental grounds.

Even if there a significant move to electrification there is the opportunity to order Bi-modes or even straight electrics where appropriate at a later date and the displaced 197's could be used elsewhere either in Wales or other TOC's.

2040 is a long way off and I expect the Diesel ban is dependent on satisfactory Bionic Duckweed alternatives being available, and who's to say that the 197's might not get re-engineered in a more environmentally friendly way at some point, which could include synthetic fuels, we are going to see more Ethanol in Petrol this year for instance which is supposed to reduce Co2 emissions a bit.

As for your argument about seats its really not relevant to the train, the latest generation of seats are generally uncomfortable whatever type of train you buy,.
 
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Rhydgaled

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Even if you electrify Wolverhampton Shrewsbury I expect the pollution generated by still running 197's over that section will be comparatively small compared to 20 year old gas guzzling XC Voyagers currently running over the East and West Coast mainlines
Yes, which is what I meant by "not because of the emissions from that section specifically but because of the prevailing government attitude it suggests." If things turn out as currently planned Wolves-Shrewsbury will see a minimum of eight Civity DMU vehicles per direction per hour (one 4-car 197 formation and two 2-car 196s). That is not going to produce as much CO2 as two Voyagers per hour but a decarbonisation programme has to consider the need to replace 150s (and, soon after that, 155s and 156s and then the 158s) and embeded carbon as well. Wiring a route with 8 DMU vehicles per hour (probably more as some of the 196s are 4-car units) would be a pretty good move towards replacing Sprinters without resorting to more new DMUs - if it's not on the agenda by 2030 it shows the government isn't interested in decarbonising rail.

Even if there a significant move to electrification there is the opportunity to order Bi-modes or even straight electrics where appropriate at a later date and the displaced 197's could be used elsewhere either in Wales or other TOC's.
This misses the point that, if you are aiming for a net-zero railway, Network Rail recommends so much electrification that virtually the entire GB train fleet will need to have a pantograph. You can cascade Civity DMUs anywhere you like, the facts that 161 of them have been ordered and that they have no provision for current collection from a pantograph mean they are incompatible with a net-zero railway being delivered during their lifetime. I think I've written this recently but, in the TDNS, the only routes that involve very little under-wires running are:
  • Llandudno-Blaenau Ffestiniog (wires between Llandudno and Llandudno Junction only),
  • Wrexham-Bidston,
  • Oxenholme-Windermere,
  • Darlington-Bishop Auckland,
  • Middlesbrough-Whitby/Nunthorpe,
  • Marlow Branch,
  • Henley on Thames Branch,
  • Plymouth-Gunnislake (wires between Keyham and Plymouth only),
  • Liskeard-Looe,
  • Truro-Falmouth Docks and
  • St Erth-St Ives.

Even if you count the 195s as having been built in 2017 and thus life-expired by 2050, you still have over 100 Civity DMUs (196s and 197s) runnning into the early 2050s, past the net-zero target and way past the point where staying under 1.5 degrees of warming is more likely than exceeding it. I estimate that unwired routes I listed above require under 25 units to work them. Cascade some Civity DMUs to those routes by all means but everything else needs a pantograph to get the most out of the electrification in the TDNS programme, meaning 100 Civity DMUs is Far Too Many.

2040 is a long way off and I expect the Diesel ban is dependent on satisfactory Bionic Duckweed alternatives being available, and who's to say that the 197's might not get re-engineered in a more environmentally friendly way at some point, which could include synthetic fuels, we are going to see more Ethanol in Petrol this year for instance which is supposed to reduce Co2 emissions a bit.
Oh, I expect the Civity DMUs will see some limited re-engineering, probably alternative fuel for the existing internal combustion engines, to allow the government to say they met the no diesel-only target. But it won't be net-zero and even if it is (one e-mail I had from TfW suggested they might be converted to hydrogen) it'll be less-efficient than the electrification they'll have killed off.
 

37424

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Yes, which is what I meant by "not because of the emissions from that section specifically but because of the prevailing government attitude it suggests." If things turn out as currently planned Wolves-Shrewsbury will see a minimum of eight Civity DMU vehicles per direction per hour (one 4-car 197 formation and two 2-car 196s). That is not going to produce as much CO2 as two Voyagers per hour but a decarbonisation programme has to consider the need to replace 150s (and, soon after that, 155s and 156s and then the 158s) and embeded carbon as well. Wiring a route with 8 DMU vehicles per hour (probably more as some of the 196s are 4-car units) would be a pretty good move towards replacing Sprinters without resorting to more new DMUs - if it's not on the agenda by 2030 it shows the government isn't interested in decarbonising rail.


This misses the point that, if you are aiming for a net-zero railway, Network Rail recommends so much electrification that virtually the entire GB train fleet will need to have a pantograph. You can cascade Civity DMUs anywhere you like, the facts that 161 of them have been ordered and that they have no provision for current collection from a pantograph mean they are incompatible with a net-zero railway being delivered during their lifetime. I think I've written this recently but, in the TDNS, the only routes that involve very little under-wires running are:
  • Llandudno-Blaenau Ffestiniog (wires between Llandudno and Llandudno Junction only),
  • Wrexham-Bidston,
  • Oxenholme-Windermere,
  • Darlington-Bishop Auckland,
  • Middlesbrough-Whitby/Nunthorpe,
  • Marlow Branch,
  • Henley on Thames Branch,
  • Plymouth-Gunnislake (wires between Keyham and Plymouth only),
  • Liskeard-Looe,
  • Truro-Falmouth Docks and
  • St Erth-St Ives.

Even if you count the 195s as having been built in 2017 and thus life-expired by 2050, you still have over 100 Civity DMUs (196s and 197s) runnning into the early 2050s, past the net-zero target and way past the point where staying under 1.5 degrees of warming is more likely than exceeding it. I estimate that unwired routes I listed above require under 25 units to work them. Cascade some Civity DMUs to those routes by all means but everything else needs a pantograph to get the most out of the electrification in the TDNS programme, meaning 100 Civity DMUs is Far Too Many.

Oh, I expect the Civity DMUs will see some limited re-engineering, probably alternative fuel for the existing internal combustion engines, to allow the government to say they met the no diesel-only target. But it won't be net-zero and even if it is (one e-mail I had from TfW suggested they might be converted to hydrogen) it'll be less-efficient than the electrification they'll have killed off.
And my view is there isn't a cat in hell chance of getting anywhere near that Network Rail recommendation by 2040 certainly not with the current UK government anyway, and the idea that it will be reduced to the levels you indicate is utter delusion quite frankly, as is the 2050 net zero target as a high percentage of the worlds population couldn't care less or believe climate change.
 
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Bletchleyite

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And my view is there isn't a cat in hell chance of getting anywhere near that Network Rail recommendation by 2040 certainly not with the current UK government anyway, and the idea that it will be reduced to the levels you indicate is utter delusion quite frankly, as is the 2050 net zero target as a high percentage of the worlds population couldn't care less or believe climate change.

And even if they did, rail emissions are a spit in the ocean compared with, for example, domestic heating.

(Doesn't mean I think continuing to use diesel is right, because it will be very easy to close branch lines and replace with electric buses if the railway doesn't keep up)
 

37424

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And even if they did, rail emissions are a spit in the ocean compared with, for example, domestic heating.

(Doesn't mean I think continuing to use diesel is right, because it will be very easy to close branch lines and replace with electric buses if the railway doesn't keep up)
Don't get me wrong I think we should progress electrification on the major Inter City Routes, and busy suburban routes but as far as Wales goes other than Cardiff Suburban, I think it would be Cardiff Swansea, and the North Wales Coast at best, the inescapable fact is that electrification is very expensive and its going to be difficult to justify for a lot a secondary routes, especially when we are no where near electrifying the major trunk routes.

If you did Crewe/Warrington to Llandudno/Holyhead for instance then these could go to EMU, and then you would have to judge whether you want to invest in Bi-modes for Holyhead Cardiff and by the time its done you would most likely want Bi-modes that don't use Diesel

"Rhydgaled" possibly has some argument for retaining the 175's but of course if the intend to run some 5 car formations the lack of corridor connection is a disadvantage, and a modern fleet with a reduced number of train types clearly has a number of advantages which ""Rhydgaled" doesn't seem to get.

Also while some people see it as wasteful I don't really have a problem with scrapping a 20 year old train if its served its purpose and its capital costs have essentially been written down.
 
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RailWonderer

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It depends how far electrification of the railway becomes politicised. We might have a situation where the decision comes down to 'electrify, close or keep' where some routes fall into the first category some in the second, some in the third.

The problem is that too many routes are long distance regionals that are lightly used and unelectrified but can't be closed either. I'm thinking many of the Welsh lines, the Highland lines, the Barrow - Carlisle and many more. The UK rail network (~30% electrification rate) is the most dense per square mile of country land in the world only behind Germany (~61% electrification rate ) and the Czech Republic (~33% electrification rate) so large amounts of the network will never be viable to electrify. Whether or not Germany becomes the aspiration for the UK remains to be seen.
 

Rhydgaled

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there isn't a cat in hell chance of getting anywhere near that Network Rail recommendation by 2040
I agree; the Network Rail TDNS document gives five decarbonisation pathways with different levels of ambition. The high-ambition pathway 4 (net-zero traction emissions by 2040) would require an average of 658 single track kilometers (STK) of electrification per year. That's not realisticly acheiveable in my view, but pathway 3 (net-zero by 2050), with an average of 355 STK per year ought to be acheivable. In my view we should be aiming at something akin to pathway 3, but a little faster if possible.

A policy of having 161 CAF Civity DMUs is in my view more aligned with pathway 5 where Net-Zero isn't reached until 2061.

the idea that it will be reduced to the levels you indicate is utter delusion quite frankly
Are you suggesting the people who wrote the TDNS report for Network Rail are delusional? I didn't make that list of routes remaining unwired up, they are a subset of the routes the TDNS suggests be left to battery operation (the other battery routes appear, to me, to have sufficient under-wires running to want to be able to charge the batteries via a pantograph on those sections).

as is the 2050 net zero target as a high percentage of the worlds population couldn't care less or believe climate change.
If thinking we can meet the net-zero target is delusional then we are in serious trouble. I would agree that it looks likely we will miss the target at the moment, and building 77 brand new diesel-only trains is one of the many reasons why missing that target looks likely which is why I am fighting that decision. Yes in the grand scheme of things UK passenger rail is a very small piece of the jigsaw but it's still part of the picture.

Don't get me wrong I think we should progress electrification on the major Inter City Routes, and busy suburban routes but as far as Wales goes other than Cardiff Suburban, I think it would be Cardiff Swansea, and the North Wales Coast at best, the inescapable fact is that electrification is very expensive and its going to be difficult to justify for a lot a secondary routes, especially when we are no where near electrifying the major trunk routes.
Wales doesn't have 'a lot of secondary routes' to wire up anyway. Wolverhampton-Shrewsbury now has a 2tph WMR suburban service and the Regional Express from TfW means the line has a minimum of 3tph (there's also an ICWC service occasionally, though whether that will survive HS2 remains to be seen). That fits with Birmingham suburban electrification if you ask me. For the rest of Wales, the TDNS has the Cambrian and Heart Of Wales down for Hydrogen, so they won't get wires and neither will the Conwy Valley. In south Wales, once you've wired Cardiff-Swansea and the Cardiff suburban stuff all you're left with is Swansea-Carmarthen and the Pembrokeshire branches. My guess is that Network Rail only suggest the wires going west of Carmarthen (where it is only 'ancillary electrification') because there's no other alternative to diesel for the oil train to Milford Haven. I think that also explains why secondary routes like the Welsh Marches and Peterborough-Doncaster are 'Core Electrification'; they're needed for frieght.
 

37424

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I agree; the Network Rail TDNS document gives five decarbonisation pathways with different levels of ambition. The high-ambition pathway 4 (net-zero traction emissions by 2040) would require an average of 658 single track kilometers (STK) of electrification per year. That's not realisticly acheiveable in my view, but pathway 3 (net-zero by 2050), with an average of 355 STK per year ought to be acheivable. In my view we should be aiming at something akin to pathway 3, but a little faster if possible.

A policy of having 161 CAF Civity DMUs is in my view more aligned with pathway 5 where Net-Zero isn't reached until 2061.

Are you suggesting the people who wrote the TDNS report for Network Rail are delusional? I didn't make that list of routes remaining unwired up, they are a subset of the routes the TDNS suggests be left to battery operation (the other battery routes appear, to me, to have sufficient under-wires running to want to be able to charge the batteries via a pantograph on those sections).

If thinking we can meet the net-zero target is delusional then we are in serious trouble. I would agree that it looks likely we will miss the target at the moment, and building 77 brand new diesel-only trains is one of the many reasons why missing that target looks likely which is why I am fighting that decision. Yes in the grand scheme of things UK passenger rail is a very small piece of the jigsaw but it's still part of the picture.
Im not suggesting the people who wrote the TDNS report are delusional but the money for it simply won't be there.

As for the net zero target, I think we are in trouble, Greta won't save the world, and if the scientists are right then we are stuffed, even if we meet the target we are still a fairly small spec in the world, and of course all the western world has done for the past 50 years is transfer its pollution to such as China and India etc.,

Back to the 197's, In any case the order is in progress now I don't really see how your going to change it
 
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squizzler

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Whilst the Australian bi-mode CAFs have already been mentioned, closer to home Civity bi-modes have now been ordered for Sweden's network. Albeit these are articulated and Sweden is notable for its very generous loading gauge compared to GB's.

Link (paywall)

About the trains​

[snip...]

The fleet is based on CAF’s modular Civity platform, which means that both EMU and BMU train types will be able to look technically and aesthetically similar to a large extent. Coupling them in multiple mode will allow EMUs and BMUs to be operated seamlessly in pairs.

Technical specifications:

  • Top speed: 200 km/h (EMU) / 200 km/h (BMU in electric mode) and 140 km/h (BMU in internal combustion engine mode);
  • Consist: 4 (single-deck) cars;
  • Length: 76 m (EMU) / 67 m (BMU);
  • Capacity: ±190 seats (EMU) / ±140 (BMU) + additional folding seats (number not specified);
  • Train protection systems: ERTMS and STM / ATC;
The spec suggests the possibility of a rip-off Stadler power unit design as the "4 car" Bimode will be nine metres shorter and have about three quarters of the passenger spaces of the electric, consistent in my view with that configuration.
 

Domh245

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Whilst the Australian bi-mode CAFs have already been mentioned, closer to home Civity bi-modes have now been ordered for Sweden's network. Albeit these are articulated and Sweden is notable for its very generous loading gauge compared to GB's.

Link (paywall)

The spec suggests the possibility of a rip-off Stadler power unit design as the "4 car" Bimode will be nine metres shorter and have about three quarters of the passenger spaces of the electric, consistent in my view with that configuration.

CAF's press release confirms a "powerpack" solution:

The base contract comprises the production of 20 EMUs (electric units), 4 cars each, and 8 BMUs (biodiesel-electric bimodal units) consisting of 3 cars plus a power car.
 

Bletchleyite

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Surprised Stadler didn't patent that idea. Or maybe they only have in some countries. Or was the first GTW (the unit that came up with the concept) now more than 20 years ago and it's expired, perhaps?
 

Domh245

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Surprised Stadler didn't patent that idea. Or maybe they only have in some countries. Or was the first GTW (the unit that came up with the concept) now more than 20 years ago and it's expired, perhaps?

I know you're a fan of Stadler's work, but it's hardly a patentable concept? Putting the power source of a train in a non-passenger carrying compartment has long been "the way" and I don't think that moving it from the end of the train to the middle and putting a walkway through is inventive enough to qualify for any sort of IP right.
 

Energy

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I know you're a fan of Stadler's work, but it's hardly a patentable concept? Putting the power source of a train in a non-passenger carrying compartment has long been "the way" and I don't think that moving it from the end of the train to the middle and putting a walkway through is inventive enough to qualify for any sort of IP right.
It was already done on the APT...
 

Bletchleyite

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Passengers couldn’t walk through on the APT, though, which was why they had duplicated catering facilities.

True, but that was just a policy decision, there's no physical reason they couldn't. Perhaps it was seen as more awkward because the tunnel was several times longer.
 

Domh245

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Passengers couldn’t walk through on the APT, though, which was why they had duplicated catering facilities.

And of course the APT vehicles were entirely self-contained, being both 'power source' (Pantograph/transformer) and propulsion, so the 'powerpack' concept would be suitable different to avoid any prior-work issues.

It's the fact that distributed power is not a new concept, nor is the concept of a standalone power generation vehicle - it fails the 'novelty' test. It's two existing concepts combined now that there is the technology (smaller engines, better power electronics) to do so
 

Rhydgaled

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"Rhydgaled" possibly has some argument for retaining the 175's but of course if the intend to run some 5 car formations the lack of corridor connection is a disadvantage, and a modern fleet with a reduced number of train types clearly has a number of advantages which ""Rhydgaled" doesn't seem to get.

Also while some people see it as wasteful I don't really have a problem with scrapping a 20 year old train if its served its purpose and its capital costs have essentially been written down.
Regarding the 'waste' issue writting down the capital costs is a small part of the overall picture; you also have to remember the embeded carbon involved in manufacturing a new fleet. Also the fact that putting off building a new fleet as long as possible means you might be able to benefit from new technology that wasn't available 10 years earlier should be considered. Regarding the lack of corridor connections on the 175s, before the franchise was awarded I was speculating that a new fleet regional express units (a mix of 2 and 3 car units) could replace either the 175s or the 158s with the 175s moving to Conwy Valley, Heart Of Wales and Pembrokeshire-Swansea and Cardiff-Carmarthen/Milford/Fishguard services (the latter via the Swansea District Line and using 3-car units). If the new fleet went on the Cambrian then the 158s could have moved onto the Manchester-Swansea route (in 4-car formations alongside 5-car sets of either mark 4s or the new units) or a larger new fleet could have been built with the 158s scrapped or cascaded to GWR towards the end of the new build (2024ish being when then last of the 197s are expected to appear).

Im not suggesting the people who wrote the TDNS report are delusional but the money for it simply won't be there.
There have been various declarations of 'Climate Emergency' and COVID-19 has shown us that, when governments believe they are facing an emergency, they can find the money. Thus, if the government start to believe that Climate Chnage is indeed an emergency finding the money for it would not be a problem - unlike with COVID dealing with Climate Change involves saving money in some areas (eg. cancelling over £20bn of road widening projects such as the Stonehenge tunnel) as well as needing to spend money on new projects.

As for the net zero target, I think we are in trouble, Greta won't save the world, and if the scientists are right then we are stuffed, even if we meet the target we are still a fairly small spec in the world, and of course all the western world has done for the past 50 years is transfer its pollution to such as China and India etc.,
I agree, we are in serious trouble. That belief in the climate emergency that I mentioned above doesn't really seem to be there; the government just doesn't get it yet. My father is optimistic that this will change and that, when it does, decarbonisation will be swift. I am increasingly doubting that it will change, but if he's right and the government's attitude does change then I do think that decarbonisation will happen rapidly.

On your other point, while alot of our pollution has been been exported to the likes of China there has been a genunine reduction in UK emissions from electricty generation through the 'dash for gas'. That's still burning fossil fuel so it's nowhere near good enough but it is marginly better than doing nothing at all.

Back to the 197's, In any case the order is in progress now I don't really see how your going to change it
I don't have much hope left myself, but as noted above if a government really gets an issue (or, at least, gets that something needs to be done) they can pull off pretty spectacular U-turns. I'm trying to get a meeting with the Welsh Government's deputy minister for transport, who I heard give a very good 'speech' on decarbonising transport, in the hope that I can get the issues across to him and he will be able to pull off a major change to the 197 order (either reducing the size of it to a maximum of 30 units or re-specifying most of the later units as bi-modes for a new Swansea metro).
 

Caaardiff

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There have been various declarations of 'Climate Emergency' and COVID-19 has shown us that, when governments believe they are facing an emergency, they can find the money. Thus, if the government start to believe that Climate Chnage is indeed an emergency finding the money for it would not be a problem - unlike with COVID dealing with Climate Change involves saving money in some areas (eg. cancelling over £20bn of road widening projects such as the Stonehenge tunnel) as well as needing to spend money on new projects.
Do you not think the new fleet is part of trying to improve the service frequency, thus attracting additional passengers to services rather than using the car? A window position or uncomfortable seat isn't going to deter people from switching from the car. Frequency and the availability of a seat will. The majority of people the railway needs to attract is commuters making fairly short journeys into their place of work every day. Not leisure travel that may do a longer journey every couple of months.
Without the addition of a new fleet the current fleet would not even come close to attempting to improve the service. On top of that, ordering a smaller number of 197s doesn't necessarily make business sense, as you seem to be forgetting TfW is a business. With a larger new fleet, costs can be cut. The aim is to have a more streamlined fleet that can be flexible in its workings. Having a mix of 158s, 197s, 150s and 175s working the same routes isn't going to benefit anything.

I don't have much hope left myself, but as noted above if a government really gets an issue (or, at least, gets that something needs to be done) they can pull off pretty spectacular U-turns. I'm trying to get a meeting with the Welsh Government's deputy minister for transport, who I heard give a very good 'speech' on decarbonising transport, in the hope that I can get the issues across to him and he will be able to pull off a major change to the 197 order (either reducing the size of it to a maximum of 30 units or re-specifying most of the later units as bi-modes for a new Swansea metro).
You really are delusional if you believe you can change the 197 order, given that the Minister you mention was probably heavily involved in the decision making for the order. Hopefully if you're lucky enough to get the meeting, the minister can explain it to you, and you will actually listen.
 

Bletchleyite

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Do you not think the new fleet is part of trying to improve the service frequency, thus attracting additional passengers to services rather than using the car? A window position or uncomfortable seat isn't going to deter people from switching from the car. Frequency and the availability of a seat will.

I'm sorry, but that is utter and total nonsense. People will not switch from the car if the train is uncomfortable, unless there is a considerable stick against the car (i.e. congestion charges etc). Windows maybe less so as regular users will have their head in their phone, but seat comfort, legroom etc absolutely are relevant.

The majority of people the railway needs to attract is commuters making fairly short journeys into their place of work every day. Not leisure travel that may do a longer journey every couple of months.

That market is dying, and COVID has shuffled it along a bit. Discretionary journeys are the future of all forms of travel, be they a couple of days in the office for meetings or a trip to the beach.

You really are delusional if you believe you can change the 197 order, given that the Minister you mention was probably heavily involved in the decision making for the order. Hopefully if you're lucky enough to get the meeting, the minister can explain it to you, and you will actually listen.

I'd agree we are stuck with it now, but that doesn't make Wales's stock orders and usage make any more sense than Northern's similarly flawed approach (which new Northern seems to be fixing, with 195s now appearing on diesel stopping services where their acceleration really makes a difference).
 

py_megapixel

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The main concerns expressed so far for the 197s appear to have been:
  • Poor seating layout
  • Poor door configuration
  • Insufficient toilets
  • Poor comfort and ride quality
  • Not enough carriages built
 
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Rhydgaled

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Do you not think the new fleet is part of trying to improve the service frequency, thus attracting additional passengers to services rather than using the car? A window position or uncomfortable seat isn't going to deter people from switching from the car. Frequency and the availability of a seat will. The majority of people the railway needs to attract is commuters making fairly short journeys into their place of work every day. Not leisure travel that may do a longer journey every couple of months.
Bletchleyite has done a good job of responding to this; while improving service frequency attracts additional passengers, for discretionary journeys comfort vs the car is also important. Why did BR introduce the 156s rather than more 150s?

You really are delusional if you believe you can change the 197 order, given that the Minister you mention was probably heavily involved in the decision making for the order. Hopefully if you're lucky enough to get the meeting, the minister can explain it to you, and you will actually listen.
I know I can't change the order, but I'm assuming the minister can. I accept that I am unlikely to convince him to do so, but I feel I have to try.
 

Rhydgaled

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Why does door position matter so much? I've never heard complaints about the 185s door position, instead I've heard that the new trains have to spend longer at busy stations due to having doors at the end. Personally I prefer doors in the middle, it makes the train feel like a long metal tube.
It's less door position and more door width that concerns me. Compare the specs of a 175 and a 197 and you see that the seating capacity is broadly the same, but:
  • A 175 has more bay seating
  • A 175 has an additional toilet
  • A 175 has 2cm greater seat pitch in the airline style seating
The door positions are less of a concern to me personally, although I've yet to see a 'doors at thirds' unit with internal partition doors seperating the vestibles from the standard class saloons - it's done for 1st class in some cases though and if it was to be done for standard class as well then I wouldn't have a problem with a 444-like door configuration. My grandmother though raised a strong dislike of other passengers being able to see her going into the toilet cubicle from their seats - to resolve that toilets need to lead off vestibules and not off the saloons which means one set of doors needs to be at or near the vehicle end. The other can be in the middle of the coach though.

Does it? These trains have been ordered for regional lines which are unlikely to get electrification any time soon. If they can justify electrification then they can justify the extra expense of FLIRTs over Civitys.

Agreed, we should electrify but there are other routes far more important than the routes the 197s will run on.
Indeed, there are more-important routes that need to be electrified first, but ultimately we need to decarbonise and currently the target for that is 2050 (some say it should be sooner, but for UK rail that doesn't look achievable). Thus we need to be working towards complete decarbonisation by 2050 (which going by the recommendations in the TDNS would require virtually all trains to be capable of current collection from the OHLE / third rail). Of the routes remaining unwired in the TDNS, the vast majority would see services running through to wired destinations and you would want to be able to charge batteries and/or conserve the supply of hydrogen on those wired sections. If you have a large amount of stock which is unable to run in electric mode (161x Civity DMUs) some of the sections that are recommended for electrification could see very little use of said electrification.

As for the 197s having been order for regional lines, the door width makes them unsuitable for that in my opinion hence I would redeploy them to metro routes where electrification is more of a priority.

At best your going to get 2 table bays (one on each side) by going with smaller doors at the end.

Why? Doors at thirds sacrifice very little seating for much quicker boarding.
See above; you get more bays, more legroom and an aditional toilet on a 175. That in my view is quite a big sacrifice to make for quicker boarding.
The main concerns expressed so far for the 197s appear to have been:
  • Poor seating layout
  • Poor door configuration
  • Insufficient toilets
  • Poor comfort and ride quality
  • Not enough carriages built
Far too many carriages ordered if you consider the need to decarbonise and the already-ordered 195s and 196s.
 
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greatvoyager

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It's less door position and more door width that concerns me. Compare the specs of a 175 and a 197 and you see that the seating capacity is broadly the same, but:
  • A 175 has more bay seating
  • A 175 has an additional toilet
  • A 175 has 2cm greater seat pitch in the airline style seating
The door positions are less of a concern to me personally, although I've yet to see a 'doors at thirds' unit with internal partition doors seperating the vestibles from the standard class saloons - it's done for 1st class in some cases though and if it was to be done for standard class as well then I wouldn't have a problem with a 444-like door configuration. My grandmother though raised a strong dislike of other passengers being able to see her going into the toilet cubicle from their seats - to resolve that toilets need to lead off vestibules and not off the saloons which means one set of doors needs to be at or near the vehicle end. The other can be in the middle of the coach though.


Indeed, there are more-important routes that need to be electrified first, but ultimately we need to decarbonise and currently the target for that is 2050 (some say it should be sooner, but for UK rail that doesn't look achievable). Thus we need to be working towards complete decarbonisation by 2050 (which going by the recommendations in the TDNS would require virtually all trains to be capable of current collection from the OHLE / third rail). Of the routes remaining unwired in the TDNS, the vast majority would see services running through to wired destinations and you would want to be able to charge batteries and/or conserve the supply of hydrogen on those wired sections. If you have a large amount of stock which is unable to run in electric mode (161x Civity DMUs) some of the sections that are recommended for electrification could see very little use of said electrification.

As for the 197s having been order for regional lines, the door width makes them unsuitable for that in my opinion hence I would redeploy them to metro routes where electrification is more of a priority.


See above; you get more bays, more legroom and an aditional toilet on a 175. That in my view is quite a big sacrifice to make for quicker boarding.


Far too many carriages ordered if you consider the need to decarbonise and the already-ordered 195s and 196s.
Are 197s the last pure DMUs to be ordered and delivered?
 

Rhydgaled

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Are 197s the last pure DMUs to be ordered and delivered?
The only pure DMUs on-order and yet to enter service in Great Britain currently are the 196s and 197s I think. I fear the need to replace Sprinters will result in another order for Northern and GWR at some point in the future but hope an electrification programme will kick off soon to avoid the need for that.
 

greatvoyager

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The only pure DMUs on-order and yet to enter service in Great Britain currently are the 196s and 197s I think. I fear the need to replace Sprinters will result in another order for Northern and GWR at some point in the future but hope an electrification programme will kick off soon to avoid the need for that.
I wonder if there will have to be more compromises with bi-modes.
 

Bletchleyite

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I wonder if there will have to be more compromises with bi-modes.

I'd figure that electrification programmes and bi-modes (battery, hydrogen and diesel) will mean classes 195, 196 and 197 are plenty to replace the Sprinter fleets when it comes to time for that. Indeed, that's said to be the reason for Northern having ordered 2-car units - you're never going to need a longer set on Ormskirk-Preston, Kirkby/Skem-Wigan, the Bentham Line etc.
 

greatvoyager

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I'd figure that electrification programmes and bi-modes (battery, hydrogen and diesel) will mean classes 195, 196 and 197 are plenty to replace the Sprinter fleets when it comes to time for that.
That was my thinking, those will probably be the last DMUs in service.
 
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