Could there be demand for loco-hauled MK3s in preservation?

Discussion in 'Railtours & Preservation' started by alexl92, 9 May 2019.

  1. alexl92

    alexl92 Established Member

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    I’ve spent the weekend enjoying the KWVR diesel gala from afar (i.e. via social media) as I couldn’t make it myself, and it seems the fantastic 41001 and it’s mk3 coaches have been very popular.

    Obviously the preservation sector is predominantly steam-focused, but it did make me wonder whether the popularity of the mk3s at these events, as well as ride quality and comfort, might mean that some heritage railways decide to invest in some loco-hauled mk3s to run at diesel galas and such?

    A set of 1st class coaches would offer a different experience for posh dining trains and even gin trains and similar which have become popular over the last few years - events which aren’t necessarily about the train itself. Thoughts?
     
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  3. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    Being air-conditioned Mk3s require far more maintenance to keep them in good condition than a Mk1 or early Mk2s; I'm not sure many preserved railways will take on Mk3s.
     
  4. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I've seen Mk3s with hopper windows retrofitted (I think one of the steam support coaches does) - could this be an option?

    Can also be done to aircon Mk2s - the VTWC Mk2 sets had two emergency hoppers per coach.
     
  5. duffield

    duffield Member

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    I would think it's a fairly essential feature for diesel galas to be able to hear the loco working. Those sort of galas are probably very enthusiast heavy compared to normal running and steam galas.
     
  6. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    Take out the air-con altogether? Possibly, it's been done with Mk2Ds - the Irish ones preserved by the RPSI (Railway Preservation Society of Ireland), were converted to pressure-ventilation.
     
  7. AndyY1951

    AndyY1951 Member

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    The Tornado/Prince of Wales Trust are talking of buying a set of Mk3s for the main line - but they will have to be fitted with hopper windows to make a steam-hauled trip worthwhile!
     
  8. Journeyman

    Journeyman Established Member

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    Mark 3s contain a lot of technology that is now obsolete, which makes keeping them in decent running order a nightmare. I speak from professional experience - you'd be a brave preservationist to take them on.
     
  9. 43096

    43096 Established Member

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    125 Group seem to have made a success of it.
     
  10. Journeyman

    Journeyman Established Member

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    Well, they're using them for a specialised purpose, for which they were designed, so can probably make it work. As general coaching stock on heritage railways, though, I think they'd be far more hassle than they're worth, especially because you need ETH and air brakes to operate them.
     
  11. alexl92

    alexl92 Established Member

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    Air brakes not too much of an issue with diesels generally tho? As for ETH... how many classes can supply it? 37/4, 31/4, 47/7 I think, not sure what else?
     
  12. GusB

    GusB Established Member

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    I knew they shouldn't have scrapped the ETHELs...

    Are there still any of the former-BG generator cars still kicking about?
     
  13. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Deleted
     
    Last edited: 9 May 2019
  14. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    The thing is though, most preserved lines run (or aspire to run) BR era steam...
    Mk1s, or at a push early mk2s suit the ambience that’s trying to be created far better than a mk3 ever will.
    Mk3s suffer from corrosion problems just like older stock and are getting pretty
    old now. So for the immediate future I think it more likely that Mk1s (and to a lesser extent mk2a/b’s) will become increasingly valuable and will have more and more money spent on them rather than railways altering mk3s to fit their needs.
    I compare it a bit (and bear with me here) to the old VW camper...
    The old Split Screen Type 2 (mk1) didn’t used to be worth much, but had loads of charisma.
    The Bay Window then came along and usurped the original model, and again was cheap second hand. But eventually people realised that getting a decent one of these iconic vehicles was becoming increasingly expensive, and the next model after that just didn’t have that ‘old fashioned’ style (even though it was considerably more pleasant to live with, having better brakes/springs/quieter interior/heating etc).
    It just didn’t capture that 1960s feel...
    Restorable Mk1s just like elderly VW campers will probably soar in value in the next few years if they’re not doing already.
    Mk3s aren’t there yet. And may never get their time.
    Unless they’re running behind what they’re meant to be running behind like the fantastic 41001 for example (god I love that thing).
     
  15. GusB

    GusB Established Member

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    I'm sure there will be someone along shortly to suggest a 47/7 and a DBSO... :D
     
  16. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

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    As far as diesel galas go air brakes are their biggest asset as main line visitors can haul them. I can’t see any preserved railway investing in stock for 1 weekend per year, i.e. a diesel gala, especially when many of the people who attend diesel galas want to hear the loco. A small number of lines might find buy some but it would only be if they could find other uses for them.
     
  17. 43096

    43096 Established Member

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    Agreed. The biggest issue is the electrical systems and a lot of preservation groups/sites have a heavy mechanical skills bias, which is not surprising given that most are steam railways. 125 Group is fortunate in having several volunteers with electrical (and electronics) skills.
     
  18. Journeyman

    Journeyman Established Member

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    It's not just any electrical systems, either - it's bespoke solid state stuff that hasn't been manufactured for years. Mark 3s have rudimentary electronic wheel slip protection devices which need a specialist testing unit - there's only a couple of working ones left in the whole country!
     
  19. 43096

    43096 Established Member

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    There’s three different types of WSP on Mark 3s too: the original Girling, later BR type and the replacement modern Knorr-Bremse system.
     
  20. option

    option Member

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    Surely much more useful to, & more likely, that mainline charters would use them, & sell on their current Mark 1s.
     
  21. Mogz

    Mogz Member

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    Providing the seating is arranged for the leisure traveller (ie around tables) I wonder whether there may be a new market for non-enthusiast excursion trains serving destinations not usually reachable by direct services?

    For example, Summer Saturday only trains from Scotland, North East, North West and Wales to the South Coast, Devon and Cornwall and East Anglia (early out, late return) that could be used for both day trippers and holiday makers.

    They could have a special baggage car for all the suitcases and be reservation only.

    That would be attractive to the holiday crowd whilst relieving the XC Voyagers, which get packed at the best of times and are, frankly, verging dangerous during the Summer holiday season.
     
  22. Peter C

    Peter C Established Member

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    The way I look at it is as follows.


    The "Heritage Circuit" is, by name, made up of heritage rolling stock/other railwayana. When a TOC takes a certain type of engine/unit/coach out of service, it is no longer in service (obviously) and can therefore be considered part of the heritage scene, even if, as is the case with the Mk3s, the rolling stock in question is in use with other TOCs. Personally, I would love for a heritage railway or two to have at least some Mk3s, even if they are only used for diesel galas. No offence to anyone, but the number of people who remember (and I mean, remember) steam and Mk1s in normal service is slowly decreasing. This means that we will eventually get to a point where the only memories people have of Mk1s and steam engines are on heritage lines and railtours. Yes, they are still part of the heritage of the British rail network, but from a financial point of view a heritage railway will, at some point, start to benefit from running Mk3s (and maybe even a proper HST on gala days!) as they are what people remember.

    Just a thought.

    -Peter
     
  23. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    I suppose Mark 3 bodyshells could be heavily modified / simplified to serve on some heritage lines, as Mark 1 stock becomes too decrepit to keep running, but it would be an expensive option.

    Ideally they would need (at least):
    Conversion to dual braking (air/vacuum)
    Fit steam heating.
    Remove complicated electronics and replace by something simpler.
    Replace some of the windows and fit sliding ventilators - please not hoppers - they are ghastly, due to only having a fully closed / fully open option, and even in summer you get people wanting to close hopper windows because - on moving trains - they create gale-like winds that "affect someone's hairstyle", etc.

    And on some lines, there is another question - is the track suitable for 23 metre coaches??

    It might even be cheaper just to build new "near-replicas" of pre-BR coaches, using just the bogies from Mark 3 stock.
     
  24. Peter C

    Peter C Established Member

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    Some interesting and important points that I personally hadn't thought of. When you say "fit sliding ventilators", what do you mean? Do you mean windows in the seating area (as opposed to the vestibules)? I like the fact that the HSTs have the single-pane windows and the slam doors (if you can call them that).
    Also, would the Central Door Locking be removed to fit in with the Mk1s? Surely not. Just another idea.

    -Peter
     
  25. 43096

    43096 Established Member

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    There are two heritage railways that do have operational Mark 3s: the Mid-Norfolk and the 125 Group’s vehicles at the GCRN.
     
  26. Peter C

    Peter C Established Member

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    OK. Excuse me for being stupid, but surely on a diesel gala, they could be moved somehow to another railway? It would certainly bring in a fair amount of money for the said receiver of the coaches, especially from those who live on the GWML as the HSTs have just ended! However, moving them would only be appropriate if the railways have mainline links. I know nothing about these railways apart from a few very basic facts about where they are.

    -Peter
     
  27. 43096

    43096 Established Member

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    I suspect that the better bet would be to air brake the kettles rather than doing daft things like vac braking Mark 3s. Likewise, some other way of generating power for Mark 3s is going to be better than steam heating them. We really need to move on from vac brake/steam heat - large numbers of people have air conditioned cars and offices, and they expect transport to have the same. Offering a cold and draughty (in winter) or hot and sweaty (in summer) train is not a great product when the visitor is sued to aircon. You’d be amazed at how many positive comments are made by “normal” people when using the preserved Mark 3s, not to mention the envious comments about Mark 3 kitchens from volunteers on lines they have visited.

    As for 23m vehicles, you’d be amazed how many lines have had such vehicles over already. Off the top of my head I can think of NYMR, Severn Valley, East Lancs, Mid-Norfolk, GCR, GCRN, West Somerset, Swanage, Wensleydale and Bo’ness & Kinneil.
     
  28. 43096

    43096 Established Member

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    It’s already happening. 125 Group Mark 3s spent last weekend at the Severn Valley diesel gala!
     
  29. Peter C

    Peter C Established Member

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    Yes - I heard about that. It's just a shame that 41001 played up and didn't run! As much as I'd love to see 41001 running for many more years to come, I think that if we had a Class 43 (hopefully one with some historical significance, before or after privatisation, e.g. 43185 because it carried Intercity Swallow with GWR or one of the power cars that ran at 148mph on the 1st Novermber 1987 with a 5car set) to run along with the Class 41 it would ensure that we could see the Mk3s running. Having two Class 43s would be nice, so as to have a proper HST set if 41001 fails, but this would probably be impractical in terms of moving the engines around.

    -Peter
     
  30. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    As I think I mentioned upthread, there is a railtour support coach Mk3 that has been retrofitted with opening windows. So it can be done. I half recall, though I can't find any photos, that it was classic sliding vents rather than hoppers, though the Irish Mk3s had hoppers so that can be done as well.

    With regard to "summer holiday trains", wouldn't the charter companies have done that already (using Mk2s) if it was viable?
     
  31. option

    option Member

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    240v generator & a loco-controlled air-braking system in a guards carriage?
     

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