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.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
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.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.
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.