Future preservation of modern trains

Discussion in 'Railtours & Preservation' started by Terry Tait, 6 Nov 2019.

  1. Terry Tait

    Terry Tait Member

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    Modern trains such as 185 180 170 172 electrostar and desiro are far more complicated than previous generations so I wonder if it will be actually possible to preserve working examples on heritage lines in the future, I predict that there will be interest when time is up for those trains among the younger enthusiasts who will look at them with the same affection that people my age look at 37 31 Mk1 and 2 etc.
     
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  3. duffield

    duffield Member

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    The only way I can see them being preserved in working order would be to purchase several identical examples and use some for spares. Specialist items like obsolete circuit boards or computer modules would otherwise possibly be impossible to obtain, and near impossible to repair in many cases, and typically the trains would not be usable without them.
     
  4. Journeyman

    Journeyman Established Member

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    I've long thought that this is a major issue, and that there will be considerable gaps in what's saved in future. Anything full of electronics is going to be very, very hard to save without specialist support, and even stuff still operating is occasionally problematic - look at SouthEastern fitting new traction equipment to a big chunk of their Networker fleet.

    I think the 14x and 15x DMU fleet is probably fairly simple to keep going, but anything more modern than that is going to be very tricky.

    Even the Mark 3 - a design that is 40 years old - requires specialist equipment to fully maintain it, and I've a feeling that very, very few of these will end up saved for prosperity.

    You'd certainly need to ensure a constant supply of the relevant bits, which is probably OK if it's off-the-shelf stuff, but harder if it's unique. Apparently there was someone at NASA who had a full-time role scouring eBay for anything containing working 286 and 386 processors, to keep the ancient Space Shuttle computers going...
     
  5. vlad

    vlad Member

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    Personally I'll be gutted if they don't preserve any 323s - but for reasons given (plus the fact they're electric) I can't help feeling that won't happen.
     
  6. tnxrail

    tnxrail Member

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    Of something old but still running like 150's or 153's maybe they have run 150 up the S.V.R. in the past
     
  7. Alanko

    Alanko Member

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    Do you need all the gubbins to run a DMU/EMU up and down a 5 mile track at 25 mph? Could some of the functionality either be bypassed or be copied using a Raspberry Pi, etc? There are a lot of coding academies around now, so I'm sure you could get some 21 year old tech whiz to replicate the functionality of these modules? I agree generally that modern trains probably can't be 'spannered' like a '50s diesel loco.

    To further the discussion a wee bit, surely modern trains are going to go 'round the clock' a wee bit further than those of yore? In theory could you also keep upgrading modern trains over time and stretch out their lifespan?

    Furthermore will people want to visit modern trains on heritage railways? 66s don't 'thrash'; they get on with their work relatively quietly and reliably! Will a breed of future enthusiast pile onto the platform to listen to 'ying ying ying' in detail? Do modern trains, with their utilitarian looks and fairly character-free performance hold sway with people? Will I toddle along to Bo'Ness in twenty years time to ride on a 170 painted like this?

    [​IMG]
     
  8. dakta

    dakta Member

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    I'd love to know the answers to those last questions, I suppose it depends on why we're enthusiasts, is it because we like steam for instance, or is it because it's what we grew up with? If it's the latter than the landscape of preservation will probably change somewhat.

    "would some of the functionality either be bypassed or be copied using a Raspberry Pi, etc? There are a lot of coding academies around now, so I'm sure you could get some 21 year old tech whiz to replicate the functionality of these modules?"

    If it came to it - Probably. At the end of the day it's all inputs and outputs in a less 'regulated' environment I can't see why most systems cant be replicated in quite a barebones manner
     
  9. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    The problem of preserving multiple unit trains (diesel or electric) is likely to be the availabilty of siding space on heritage railways. They take up a lot more space than a single loco (steam or diesel) - and many heritage lines already suffer from inadequate safe storage space. And in some cases, there is no spare land for extra sidings adjacent to heritage railways - even if they could afford to buy it.
     
  10. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Enthusiasts may restore the stock, but they don’t pay a high percentage of the revenue...
    A family turning up at a steam railway want a ride behind a steam locomotive pulling a train of old fashioned coaches and that’s what pays the bills.
    I don’t see a great deal of take up when it comes to preserving 313s,314s,315s etc at the moment because they don’t remotely fit in with the image that 99% of preserved railways are trying to present.

    Multiple units have always struggled in preservation (especially electric ones), and as time goes on in my opinion (for what its worth) things like mk1 coaches will become more and more valued as historic rolling stock.
    It’s going to take another 30 years before more modern stock starts to become valued and who knows where we’ll be by then?
     
    Last edited: 7 Nov 2019
  11. Terry Tait

    Terry Tait Member

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    Back in the 1950s, enthusias used to deride diesel and electric trains as characterless junk that would never be of interest to anyone because they were brought up with steam, now we've got a generation brought up with locomotive hauled trains and first generation multiple units that deride modern trains so one would imagine that this trend would continue, ergo, in the future, our young will regard replacement stock for 170s and Electrostars as characterless junk and will be seeking to preserve such trains for their own nostalgic reasons, much in the same manner as "turn that noise down" has been a catchphrase for at least five generations of parents.
     
  12. Ianigsy

    Ianigsy Member

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    Having travelled in the 125 Group's Mark 3s earlier this year, I'd say that there's a loss of ambience once you get into air conditioned stock - you can't often hear the engine working and there isn't the same sense of movement. But that's not unique to railways- a colleague once pointed out that it's hard to imagine people wanting to go round a modern day call centre as a tourist attraction.
     
  13. Meerkat

    Meerkat Established Member

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    I struggle to see any preservation group being willing to take on the safety case for electrics, particularly 3rd rail, and if they aren’t motored then what are you preserving? It wouldn’t even be an ambience and dated style that people remember from steam or slam door - the MUs had and have such a variety of interiors.
    If the line is about the views then maybe MUs could be used as hauled stock, but even then the air-conditioned, properly coupled experience is pretty bland.
    Ironically the most characterful “this is what we had to travel on when we were your age kids!” museum piece would be a Pacer!
     
  14. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    1. The non-enthusiasts who currently go to preserved railways want steam haulage - they want something with a Thomas face at the front - they want something Victorian, properly nostalgic
    2. The enthusiasts who go to preserved railways will like something like a 31 or 37 (the two classes you mention) because they were pretty universal - a relatively "go anywhere" train, blue livery, blue and grey coaches. Something like a 172 or 185 (two of the examples you've given) won't have anything like as wide appeal and he livery (of a 172 etc) will restrict its appeal even more, so I'm not sure that there's be quite as wide appeal
    3. That said, I expect some people with deep pockets to buy up examples of each - but potentially lack the funds to keep them operational - they'll rust and rot in sidings and sheds as vanity projects without necessarily turning a wheel in revenue earning service
     
  15. michael74

    michael74 Member

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    As eluded to previously, Heritage Railways are in effect a show, people want theatrics, Steam fans wants slipping wheels and smoke and Diesel enthusiasts want Clag.... Although part of me used to die when I got on a Pacer, but a little bit of me has a tiny teeny weeny soft spot for them and I do hope a nodding donkey or two is preserved because they are the pantomime horse of the railways. They are cheap to run, easy to maintain (I think) and if all else fails, I would love to see one and ride on one being hauled by something like a GWR tank engine, wouldn't that make for an odd sight :lol:
     
  16. GarethW

    GarethW Member

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    With regard to Alankos third paragraph.

    I remember the write up in Rail Enthusiast Feb 1982 on the Deltic farewells where the writer said firmly “I can’t believe that people will become similarly misty-eyed and emotional when the last HST pulls out of the Cross in 2000”.

    A sentiment echoed in the letters pages for sometime afterwards ....... but of course with the benefit of hindsight totally wrong.

    A more modern equivalent being the 442s or the slammers.

    Human nature doesn’t change - in 20 or 30 years time what seems tediously mundane now will become fondly remembered and cherished.
     
  17. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    The London Midland 150 Farewell took a pair of units (150001 and 150106) up the Severn Valley Railway to Bridgnorth in 2011. I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was a glimpse of things to come, but they'll never usurp steam in day to day service.
     
  18. option

    option Member

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    Do they need to run?

    There's unlikely to be much mass interest in them (DMUs & EMUs), & using them will wear them out or break them.
    Put them in a collection/museum, where they can be walked through, & plugged in so various systems work.

    How about turning a few cabs into simulators, so people can have a go at driving a train?
     
  19. 50039

    50039 Member

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    Many heritage railways operate a 1st generation DMU - they’re reliable, simple and serve a purpose, yet hold no real attraction for 95%(?) of visitors.. Sprinters and Pacers would seem to be a logical replacement as time goes on?

    I can’t see a call for EMUs though - doesn’t make any sense to preserve something non-operational and then tow it behind a diesel..
     
  20. theblackwatch

    theblackwatch Emeritus Moderator

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    The attraction for many visitors of First Gen DMUs is the ability to be able to see out of the front window. From a railway point of view, they also have the advantage of being relatively simple to maintain... no electrics needed to power the doors for example.
     
  21. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    On my last ship the electronics for the bow thruster had been defective since the ship entered Rosyth Dockyard 2 1/2 years earlier. The official repair solution was to redesign the motors at £10,000 a time throughout the fleet. One of my Leading Hands found a replacement Honeywell part from a Combine Harvester dealer in California on eBay for £142. It took 4 days for UPS to get it to us in Faslane. We fitted it and tested it and rectified the defect causing major embarrassment to one of Britains major defence contractors!
     
  22. Snow1964

    Snow1964 Member

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    People see heritage through rose coloured spectacles
    consequently, expect steam, slam doors, lots of varnished wood, glowing lights
    No one goes heritage to see a boxy diesel, an air conditioned coach with sealed windows, power doors, space saver seats, bright LED lighting

    Old equipment was simple, anything with fancy electronics is not easy to maintain.
    I know you can isolate things for a low speed trundle, but that doesn't give oldy-world feel
     
  23. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    I take your point (and I've certainly tried to explain to people complaining about how these horrible modern AT300s won't be as good as the trusted old HSTs that people said the same about the horrible modern HSTs compared to the trusty old Deltics, and complained about the horrible modern Deltics replacing steam etc etc!)...

    ...but the people getting misty eyed about HSTs are enthusiasts, I doubt that the replacement of the HSTs caused much more than a ripple in popular mainstream culture - I've not heard any discussion of it away from people who would identify as rail enthusiasts - whereas the end of steam was a proper watershed moment, the end of a culture that went back to Victorian times.

    I mean, there's a bit of me that got nostalgic seeing the (National Express) Scotrail 170 that @Alanko posted - the optimism of the late '90s, the picture reminded me of the heady days of politics/ culture... but I appreciate that this is a pretty niche demographic, and not one that a preserved railway is going to make much money on hosting "1999 weekends", compared to the Santa Specials and Thomas Weekends that make up a large chunk of their revenue!
     
  24. xotGD

    xotGD Established Member

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    Totally wrong? Hardly. Most enthusiasts are either indifferent or will be happy to see the back of the HSTs.

    Hundreds lining the platforms on January 2nd 2020 to witness the "East Coast Zing Farewell"? Can't see it myself.
     
  25. JonathanP

    JonathanP Member

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    The ACLG work on their Class 89 and 125 Group's Project Miller show that "modern traction" preservation can be done, but you need skilled electrical and electronics engineers that can design and build complete replacement subsystems using modern electronic components, and at least passive support from the original manufacturer to provide specifications and advice.

    Personally I think a HST will make it, and perhaps a couple of Pacers and Sprinters, but not much else - perhaps a Class 60 when the time comes?
     
  26. 50039

    50039 Member

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    Yes, fair points. I’m not sure how much more complex the sprinters and pacers are mechanically (or electrically)? I just wonder how long some first gen units will last? And whilst it’s nice to be able to see out of the front, I doubt it’s a huge draw for most people - I’ve been to a couple of heritage lines where, for whatever reason, I had to go on a first gen DMU, and I have to say it was a disappointment...
     
  27. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    At the K &ESR we have had a Hastings Unit (no forward view) and then a 108 DMMU (forward view)they are used to fill gaps in the timetable when we can't cover the cost of running a steam service. Of the two the DMMU is undoubtably the more popular.
     
  28. Alanko

    Alanko Member

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    They are nostalgic for a time before they were alive. You can re-frame history any way you like in this context, and people want the safe, cuddly Agatha Christie version with compartments in coaches, antimacassars and lashings of tea. As I've said in other threads, you really only need a Black 5 and a small rake of maroon Mk1 coaches to get that job done.

    Not even enthusiasts. My girlfriend's mother was upset when diesel was phased in, and she is the opposite of an enthusiast! I don't think it is too unreasonable to say that steam somehow captured imaginations in a way that diesel didn't. Furthermore early diesel (noisy, smoky, usually with a characteristic 'voice') captures more imaginations than modern stuff and to be fair, some of the early diesel stuff (think NBLC) was junk! :lol:

    Electrics don't seem to fare especially well in preservation (the demise of that museum in Coventry seems to speak volumes). Elsewhere historic DMUs seem to be a bit chopped and changed in preservation, with three-car sets chopped down to two or various permutations combined into single trains.
     
  29. vlad

    vlad Member

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    I'm not sure Agatha Christie did safe and cuddly.

    Certainly the Isle of Wight Railway, with its 100% non-corridor compartment stock, could be a place where some of Christie's railway murders could be replicated. <D
     
  30. cactustwirly

    cactustwirly Established Member

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    Well I can! The last day of HSTs on the GW side drew in a big crowd at Paddington
     
  31. underbank

    underbank Established Member

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    They hold a "real attraction" for a lot more than 5% of visitors. Not only the front/back windows, but the side windows also give a very good view. Plenty of preserved lines have DMU special events. I remember many years ago, I took my young so to a "Thomas" day out at Lakeside & Haverthwaite and we spent the day going up and down the line on the front seat of a DMU - he was fascinated by actually being able to see the line ahead. Wasn't interested at all in Thomas! I go to Llangollen a few times per year for a few rides on their DMUs when I know they're going to be running. Pacers and Sprinters are no substitute at all.
     

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