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Discussion in 'Traction & Rolling Stock' started by Dan15812, 6 May 2019.
That’s because 221144 was transferred in from Virgin not so long ago and it’s not been changed...
Personally I would order new IETs for XC South/SW-Manchester/NE services and cascade Voyagers to Cardiff-Nottingham, Birmingham-Stansted and other inter-urban services such as Cardiff-Portsmouth.
I don't see much of an advantage in this happening. Much of these routes is unelectrified and IET performance on diesel is middling at best, only approaching reasonable if you put power packs under almost all the cars. It wouldn't stand a chance of beating Voyager timings, and if you can't even do that then why even replace them? The fundamental issue for this proposal is that it would cost a lot without delivering a notable benefit, and that there isn't currently an in-production rolling stock product available that can beat Voyagers or Meridians in terms of diesel performance up to 125mph.
Much though they might be an upgrade in terms of rolling stock for the latter, Turbostars are well suited to the former route in terms of their design, and are just as new as Voyagers. The problem is just that they aren't doubled up enough!
Furthermore, across both of the routes you mention there are significant speed differentials for trains like Turbostars and Sprinters which have a relatively low axle loading, compared to 'other' trains (and Voyagers have relatively high axle loadings owing to the complex DEMU system). This means that Voyagers would struggle to maintain current timings, even with their much better acceleration compared to Turbostars, Sprinters or Networker Turbos.
I can't see journey time increases going down well politically, even if accompanied by rolling stock improvements.
Ultimately, once EMR have replacements for the Meridians in 4 or 5 years' time, I think it would only be sensible for CrossCountry to get them. It would introduce additional diagramming complexity unless they were reworked to be compatible with Voyagers (which would likely be an expensive and time-consuming project), but it would at least mean that far more Voyagers could be doubled up or reformed into longer units.
For reasons of capacity and passenger environment. (Yes, I know, the seats).
Perhaps, but how much of that could be fixed if you did a decent refurbishment (coming back to the title of the thread) of the Voyagers? I bet you could end up with an interior far better than the IETs. Unfortunately there just isn't enough slack in the fleet to do a refurbishment at any reasonable rate, and quite apart from that, it'd effectively take a Government grant to have it done (and then they'd be stingy and not let it be done properly).
You could certainly make them nicer, the 222s which are basically the same unit demonstrate that. But they're still quite badly polluting DMUs in an era when diesel is deprecated - so if you add that into the mix early scrapping may well be preferable in favour of a modern bi-mode unit.
Yes you could improve the environment on a Voyager and the XC ones are particularly tatty internally.
However, this wouldn't help the biggest environment issue which is overcrowding and lack of luggage space. Both of these are fairly inherent in the design and they are already a high seating density in the amount of available space.
It would be a major effort to gain more space on the Voyagers; reducing the number of accessible toilets would only help in one carriage and vestibule size reduction would mean relocating equipment.
At that point do we have to accept that the cost would be more than getting new units especially if the leasing cost was lower. Running the remaining units doubled up.
Academic though DFT aren't going to accept paying a bigger subsidy on a franchise that has only began to make payments to the DFT relatively recently. I would think we could be looking at 2025 or later before anything is done to help long suffering XC passengers.
If the 222’s are cascaded to XC from EMR then the 6 x 7 car units could replace the HST’s with the 4/5 car units allowing a double up of existing services. This period could be an opportunity to refurbish the whole fleet into a similar if not identical standard.
They ride well, they are quick enough but the main problems are capacity and of course that smell.
How would I refurbish them if it were up to me?
They could do with the accesible loos removed from the non driving vehicles and replaced with a standard sized loo if that is possible. Yes it might only create 4 or so extra seats and maybe a luggage rack in each coach but it is something rather than nothing. They could even have just one disabled loo which would continue to be located in the FC coach and have the SC disabled area in the adjacent coach as per the class 180’s (I know it’s actually the other way around on these sets but I’m sure you know what I mean). This would allow more capacity in the DMSO too.
I find the seats comfy enough in both classes but they need a damn good overhaul. The fold down table on the airline seats is enough for a laptop due to the great legroom on them. Also one of my main bugbears is that the air conditioning ducts go down the sides of the roof restricting overhead luggage space. Is it technically possible to move these to either side of the central lights as per most other trains built in the last 25 years?
I know this is just my opinion on what I’d like to see and we can all dream but these are small ways of rectifying the mistakes made when built.
It will be interesting to see if the West Coast Partnership franchise award specifies any voyager replacement over there, which may free up some West Coast Voyagers for XC use to help ease overcrowding. But that's another issue.
With regards an internal Voyager refurb, we may find that the only intercity seats cleared for 125mph new fitment now are class 80x seats, which aren't particularly popular with enthusiasts. I don't think we'd get Grammar GWR HST seats now. So it may be that the existing seats on the Voyager fleet would actually be the most comfortable of options. Fair enough they could be reupholstered with a new cushion and recovered in something more modern.
I always felt if the overhead rack was replaced with a glass style one it would open up the feel of the interior a lot. However the overhead rack may be part of the train's structure I'm not sure.
I'm sure this has been said before, but is there a reason why the Grammar seats used on the GWR HST refurbishments were certified for 125 mph in a Mk.3 but couldn't be certified for 125 mph in anything else? I get that perhaps they couldn't be certified to 140 mph as the IEPs are, but a Voyager isn't going to be getting up to 140 no matter what happens with the signalling. I personally find the refurbished GWR HSTs pretty comfortable, although they can be a touch claustrophobic (and the lighting is... harsh, to say the least).
Personally I think that if the cost of fixing the fleets so they can run in pairs (i.e. a 222 with a 220/221) is prohibitive it could be that the 222 fleet are set as fixed length units to block that from happening, even if that leaves a load of end coaches heading for scrap.
This had to be seen in the light of the fact that XC would be gaining up to 143 coaches (with maybe a further 100 coaches from the Virgin fleet) to their current fleet of 252 coaches. In addition they will be loosing demand, due to the building of HS2, North of Birmingham.
There could be a case for the following:
11 x 9 coach 222's
2 x 8 coach 222's
(28 end coaches scrapped from 222 fleet)
5 x 9 coach 221's
26 x 5 coach 221's
(26 end coaches scrapped from 221 fleet)
17 x 5 coach 220's
17 x 3 coach (standard class only) 220's*
* Used as crowd busters on busy services
Although that would be a lot of end coaches scraped it would still give a significant upgrade in capacity to the XC fleet.
There would be no 4 coach units, the 3 coach units would (by being all standard class) would give you a few more seats than a pair of 4 coach units when paired with a 5 coach unit, even if 5 or of the 18 units with 8/9 coaches were used to replace the HST's that's still quite a few big trains.
Although the overall number of 5/8/9 coach units wouldn't be much different than the number of current 4/5 coach units there would be no need to run any of them as pairs as there's a either be 8/9 coach units or could be paired with the 3 coach units.
It would be much better to leave the fleet mostly as is and lengthen the 4 car 221's & 222's to 5 cars.
With what would you lengthen them with?
Have a gripe with XC about the toilets at the moment. Quite often they run out of toilet tissue, even on Sundays when a Voyager might only cover 300 miles or so. The CET tanks seem to fill a lot too resulting in toilets locking out of use. On a busy voyager it can be a pain to try and get through coaches to another toilet. Some of the toilet doors don't even seal properly, when they're closed and locked you can peer outside and anybody outside could peer inside - again on a train with a tendency for passengers to be standing in vestibules.. not what you want.
Did write to XC about it but got some completely canned response about how it's better to run a train than cancel it. Wasn't proposing XC cancelled trains over the lack of toilet tissue, just that they keep some onboard and restock it periodically.
There are a number of HST in store with no current future, It would be a ideal opportunity for XC to use a number of them to cover the voyagers to be refurb.
I think the Voyagers are long overdue for a deep clean but the seating moquette has lasted much better than the covers used in the Meridians.
The EMT stock is looking very shabby now with drinks stains on the seat cushions, headrests covered in black grease, corners scuffed off arm rests and some of the seat covers are actually threadbare.
As if by magic, the 7 car 222's appear.
I think the Voyager blue and red moquette has lasted very well and does make the interior seem bright and colourful. Traveling on a un refurbished GC Class 180 still in First group moquette definitely feels a few decades older.
For the 4 coach 222's that's fine, although I'm not sure how easy fitting them into the 221's (and a few 220's, as there'd be 12 coaches available and with only 4 x 222's and 4 x 221's each needing 1 there's a few left over?) depending on how the software interacts (i.e. is it embedded into each coach or does one computer connect to ask the coaches and if you connect the cables up they'll all work fine).
Shame about the Voyager ceiling panels though, that are more “never cleaned smoke filled room” than bright and colourful. I think the tables are very old fashioned looking as well...
On such an overcrowded network, scrapping any driving cars seems foolish. Semi-permanently coupled 8 or 9 car units would work well IMO.
Even with 5 of the 9 coach units being used to replace HST's the replacement of 11 units with 9 coach units (equivalent to 22x5 coach units) and the removal of all 4 coach units and the ability to have 40% of the 5 coach fleet running with the 3 coach crowd busters. As well as being able to run on pairs the 5 coach units in pairs as much as they currently do.
That's quite an uplift in capacity, before you remember that once HS2 comes along it will provide a lot of the capacity for flows like Birmingham/Manchester Birmingham/Leeds Birmingham/York. It will also absorb flows between Reading (& South of there) and Birmingham/Manchester/York/Newcastle/etc.
Then there's the question of how much longer would they need to last? In that there's chances are it would only need to be about 15 years and then they could be replaced with EMU's/bimodal trains once there's more electrification of the network.
Even with 5% growth a year (which is unlikely given that HS2 will absorb a lot of traffic) the network could see a doubling of passenger numbers, this compares with seating capacity of:
38*200 (4 coach units) = 7,600
20*250 (5 coach units) = 5,000
Total of 12,600
17*150 seats (3 coach crowd busters) = 2,550
43*250 seats (5 coach units) = 10,750
2*450 seats (8 coach units) = 900
11*500 seats (9 coach units) = 5,500
Total of 19,700
That's a 56% increase in the number of seats (assuming that the HST's are replaced by 5 of the 11 coach units, if that's not the case it's an uplift of 76%), bearing in mind that across the XC network the outer edges don't see the seats being fully utilised that's likely to provide enough extra capacity for the time being.
If you don't scrap the 54 end units then you'll be paying for them, even at £110,000 per year that's an extra (nearly) £6 million in lease costs, in addition to the extra staff costs of having more pairs of units and (depending on staffing rules) more ticketless travel. That's a lot of extra costs to cover from ticket sales.
If 10 years down the line (once phase 1 of HS2 is open) there's a need for extra capacity then new EMU's could be considered, as even without any extra electrification, there'd be scope (due to the removal of the ICWC services) to run overlapping EMU (Manchester to Rugby) and DMU (South Coast to Birmingham).
Although it could well be that the end coaches may be stored for that length of time and so the extra capacity of them (or at least some of them) could be reinstated later if needed.
For instance change the 2 x 8 coach units to form 3 coach units (12 units using 24/54 end curates) and you'd gain an extra 900 seats. That would mean that 29/43 of the 5 coach units would be running as 8 coach units.
In comparison utilising the whole fleet as 4/5 coach units you'd see:
30*4 coaches (6,000 seats)
67*5 coaches (16,750 seats)
That's a total of 22,750 seats which is 3,000 more seats which would mean that each of those seats would need to be earning £2,000 a year (in addition to the income generated by the other existing seats) just to cover the lease costs. Although that's not much a day that's in addition to the 7,100 extra seats which you'd already need to be filling to cover the extra costs from the enlarged fleet.
XC wouldn't likely be able to beat those extra costs, so chances are some of those others extra units would end up somewhere else meaning that XC would likely end up with fewer seats. As an example by just but getting the 20 units from ICWC would result in a loss of seats of 5,000 seats over 100 coaches, which is about double the loss from removing the end coaches.
I very much doubt that passengers from Reading and south thereof are going to go to the effort (and probably considerable additional cost) of changing at Old Oak Common when they already have a relatively fast direct train. It will be those passengers who were already going via London, or those for whom the difference was marginal either way, who will switch to HS2.
Birmingham might be marginal but surely it will be faster and more spacious to use HS2 for anyway further north?
For places like Crewe, Manchester, Sheffield and north thereof, yes. But for anywhere before then - and in particular places like Derby, Tamworth, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Stoke and other such places that currently have fairly fast direct trains - it's not going to be worth it.
See also the fact that for some circuitous but direct trains how there are people who will just take that in preference to changing (e.g. say taking a through Thameslink service from Brighton to Stevenage, Peterborough or Cambridge rather than changing at King's Cross for a fast LNER/Hull Trains/Cambridge Cruiser service). And who could blame them, to be honest, given the unreliability of a lot of connections.
But unless you are getting on at a XC service you have to change anyway, so if you can get a train to a modern OOC and then a long HS train it will be better than changing at Basingstoke onto a cramped XC train
Yes of course, the advantage is and will always primarily be for those stations with direct XC services. But that is a not insignificant number of places. My point is simply that demand on XC won't be reducing as much as some might think due to HS2.
Don’t forget that HS2 will have a lot of seats to fill so could well be undercutting XC fares.
I don't think it will be any different to the current situation for journeys where there is a balanced choice to be made between going via London or not. The regulated fares (i.e. Off-Peak Returns) are very similar, but the unregulated fares, whilst already sky-high on CrossCountry, are even higher on the route via London. I wouldn't be surprised if a situation arises similar to that which happened when HS1 domestic services started. Current Any Permitted or via London fares will be rerouted "not via HS2" and a new, higher "Plus High Speed 2" ticket will be introduced.
The point is on a like for like comparison then your are right you're not going to see much of a shift to HS2, however it's not the same:
- there's 3tph between OOC & Manchester Vs 1tph using XC
- there's trains with 1,100 seats Vs the 200-250 seats in the current trains
- the journey time savings are likely to be >30 minutes
The first two would mean that in any given hour rather than there being 250 seats with some being cheap advance tickets there's 3,300 with some being cheap advance tickets. That's going to significantly increase your chance of getting a cheap ticket.