Porterbrook Cl.769 'Flex' trains from 319s, initially for Northern

Discussion in 'Traction & Rolling Stock' started by aformeruser, 2 Dec 2016.

  1. Greybeard33

    Greybeard33 Established Member

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    Some evidence on the respective thread that Manchester - Stalybridge electrification might be going ahead. Manchester - Stalybridge Electrification Post #620.

    Perhaps another nail in the coffin of the Northern 769 order?
     
  2. ed1971

    ed1971 Member

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    It would be reasonable to have expected that electrification of the stretch from Wigan North Western to Lostock Junction would have been done by now. It is only around 8 miles and would enable the Wigan North Western service to Hazel Grove to be EMU operated. The Wigan NW to Stalybridge service could then be split at Manchester Vic and EMU operated from Wigan NW to Man Vic. It would then free up several DMUs and possibly eliminate the need for Class 769s altogether.
     
  3. Jamesrob637

    Jamesrob637 Member

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    They've done half a mile anyway haven't they off the Bolton line as overrun?
     
  4. ed1971

    ed1971 Member

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    Yes..
     
  5. Jamesrob637

    Jamesrob637 Member

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    I'd say then if they started the remaining 7.5 over the summer, they could have it done in time for the May 2020 timetable change. It's less than half of what Bolton is/was, and we've learned a few things from that anyway. Then your theory would play out.
     
  6. Greybeard33

    Greybeard33 Established Member

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  7. Jamesrob637

    Jamesrob637 Member

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    Thanks. Fully back on topic, Northern should have just invested in a fleet of 4-car 195s as they meet modern emissions regulations. My experience on a 195 Monday was generally excellent. This Flex thing is so long in the tooth it's not funny. Unless someone can confirm that they will actually enter service over the summer...
     
  8. NoMorePacers

    NoMorePacers Member

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    Yeah, I'm not sure why they ordered them when Porterbrook hadn't even demonstrated that it was possible. Vivarail made a demonstrator 230 unit about 2 years ago, so anyone who wanted one could see it worked before buying one, unlike here.
     
  9. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

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    It's the middle of July. No units have run on the mainline and the Allerton 2 have been at Doncaster Works for the last 2 months. No, they won't enter service over the summer.
     
  10. samuelmorris

    samuelmorris Established Member

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    Possibly not even this year unless we hear of some movement soon.
     
  11. AMD

    AMD Member

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    And there's still the traincrew training to be considered before they enter service....
     
  12. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

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    Expediency. The North West electrification was going horribly wrong and Porterbrook came up with a plan that would allow it to continue to receive revenue on its assets and the government/TOC to maximise use of the electrification that had taken place and not throw good money after bad by extending it further. The idea was good; the execution has been abysmal.
     
  13. Greybeard33

    Greybeard33 Established Member

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    I disagree. The idea sounded good to Porterbrook bean counters and DfT civil servants, who had little understanding of the engineering challenges and risks.

    I feel sympathy for the Wabtec engineers who were handed the poisoned chalice of struggling to execute this ill conceived idea.
     
  14. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    I'm going to hold fire till I see one of the TFW examples in action and can see how they perform. If they work fair enough but porterbrook could have managed this idea better. If they prove to be a failure then questions need to be asked.
     
  15. _toommm_

    _toommm_ Established Member

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    And the Fault Free running to get in.
     
  16. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

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    Well, yes. It wouldn’t be a rail enthusiast forum if somebody didn’t blame the government for the rail industry’s failings.
     
  17. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    This "maximise electric running under the wires" objective is rather torpedoed by running Manchester Airport-Windermere/Barrow with 195s.
    769s would solve that problem (but not with aircon or other new train features).
     
  18. AndrewE

    AndrewE Established Member

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    This absolutely typifies the reasons our political class is held in such low esteem.
    They make a highly-publicised commitment to de-carbonise the economy (which experts say will need a step-change increase in public transport use, as electric cars are like putting a a sticking plaster on an amputation) - and they know that urban pollution is causing deaths and other massive health costs, yet anything to increase the length of commuter trains (where they are not at the max already) or transfer all possible diesel workings to electric as a matter of urgency is met by a stunning silence.
    In 50 years of political awareness I cannot ever remember such hypocrisy from our "leaders."
     
  19. NoMorePacers

    NoMorePacers Member

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    Well the government scrapping several electrification projects in favour of using bi-modes is one of the reasons 769s are being widely-ordered.
     
  20. Killingworth

    Killingworth Established Member

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    The uncomfortable truth is that at the glacial speed of delivery of the electrification schemes currently under construction we need to cover at least 10 more years before whole lines can be connected. Ideally what should be happening is that lots of infill sections should be being tackled so the 769s can cover until completed.

    Oxenholme - Windermere is the most obvious in the north, but Leeds - York would be good. Midland Mainline is likely to be more time consuming with the need for a lot of infrastructure rebuilding, not least at Leicester and Sheffield.

    In the meantime bi-modes let us use some electrified tracks. Maybe after Brexit the new government might loosen the purse strings for a rolling programme of electrification, spurred by the nonsense of trains running only part way* as electric.

    A momentum of opinion is growing that these units, even if completed, are likely to be deployed elsewhere. Part of their business case was compatibility with 319s, yet there is doubt about their retention. I've tried to remain open minded on this, and to believe they will come into service. The lack of more than two delivered units, the lack of any route training, and their current expulsion to Wabtec, begins to look like a washing of hands. Out of sight, out of mind!

    If that's not the case we need to see some specific evidence to the contrary very soon - say by the end of July - or reluctantly I'll be coming down on the side of all those called Thomas with doubts, those doubts increasingly confirmed by every extra day when no trains run on customer served tracks.

    * The rail link from Madrid to El Ferrol via Santiago is not only bi-mode on traction, but bi-gauge on the tracks. Apart from when it was taken round a bend at twice the permitted limit, it does very well. And it's saving a lot of fumes on the section from Madrid to Santiago.
     
  21. Beemax

    Beemax Member

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    You can't entirely blame the government. If the DfT asks 'can you do this?' And the manufacturer/converter says 'yes we can' then they surely need to deliver, or at least price in some risk factor in the event that they can't deliver.
     
  22. samuelmorris

    samuelmorris Established Member

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    Diesel trains will be in use long after the sale of petrol and diesel cars is banned, I guarantee it. Saying is a lot different to doing - the government has to be seen to be doing something about climate change, but bringing the public transport infrastructure green is easier done with buses as that's all private investment. Public investment in infrastructure though, absolutely not.

    All that said, I do have to agree with the comments that although the 769 shouldn't be necessary in the first place, that fact that it is years behind is no fault of the DfT or the government. It was entirely reasonable to expect the concept to work. The 230 proves it can in fact be done. It's a bit iffy, but it's doing the job about as well as most new stock does when first introduced.

    Thinking historically about how most rail fleets were modernised, with a couple of exceptions (such as the longevity of the 101s, 117s and thumpers) DMUs shouldn't really stick around more than 25 or so years (With Pacers of course it was supposed to be even less than that). In all honesty, not just all the pacers, but all the 150s, 153s, 155s, 156s, and even 158s and 165s should all be gone by now and have been replaced by something up to date. It's going to be at least a decade before the first of those classes is withdrawn at present, let alone the last. They should all be being replaced with newly built bimodes at the least, but realistically, a suitable balance of EMUs such that 'diesel under the wires' diagrams are put to an end. It's all down to a lack of investment.
     
  23. Greybeard33

    Greybeard33 Established Member

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    My previous post did not "blame the government". The 769 project was Porterbrook's idea. Porterbrook is part of the rail industry, not the government!

    But DfT officials, disillusioned with overrunning and over budget electrification projects, were predisposed to swallow Porterbrook's hype uncritically.
     
  24. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    The idea of putting diesel gensets on an EMU sounds so relatively straightforward that I'm not too surprised that DfT and industry in general assumed that the chance of late delivery was low. To me the main risks were finding the space (which can be addressed by doing some design work) and the performance of the converted unit, particularly acceleration in poor adhesion conditions. So it's surprising to many people that a company with good engineering background should have failed to get these into service well after the planned dates. I don't think Porterbrook have done themselves any favours in the industry by not being more open and honest about what the problems actually are.
     
  25. Killingworth

    Killingworth Established Member

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    It would be mighty reassuring to see or hear of one of the units running trials on tracks they might be expected to service. Doncaster to Leeds would be a good one, even if it was at 2 am. Dare Wabtec/Northern/Porterbrook/Network Rail try it?

    If nothing moves under its own power on regular tracks, electric or diesel, by the end of this month even the most optimistic of us will be wondering when they'll be towed to a scrap yard. Or is that where they effectively are now? Come on 769s show us your wheels!
     
  26. mushroomchow

    mushroomchow Member

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    Having seen myself the disconnect between the views of LTAs and the DfT on many things to do with rail, and particularly bi-modes, I can assure you that those claiming 769s were shoehorned into TOC committments by the DfT without any real scrutiny have at least an air of truth to them.

    For the record, to a letter most local authorities didn't want them and saw them as a cop-out by the DfT to avoid having to press ahead with electrification commitments. That doesn't just apply to the 769s, but the IET units as well, and with the latter it's now being proven with the rather scandalous scaling back of both MML and TransPennine electrification and the resultant piecemeal nature of the network making bi-modes a necessity, and arguably a politically forced one at that.

    Simply put, they're "in vogue" at Great Minster House, so the DfT jumped on Porterbrook's unproven concept without analysing the risks and swallowing the overly-positive sales spiel ad verbatim. The blame for this mess lies squarely at both their feet, but mostly the DfT for egging TOCs on to include the 769 in their franchise commitments before a wheel had even turned in testing.
     
    Last edited: 12 Jul 2019
  27. Non Multi

    Non Multi Member

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    What a load of impatient wibble.
     
  28. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    I think it's entirely reasonable for the industry, not just enthusiasts, to be concerned about the lack of information on what is going on. You'd expect for their own reputation that if the problem wasn't too serious Porterbrook would put out a press release explaining things and estimating the amount of delay and then deliver to that timescale. Even if there is something more serious going on it's probably better to fess up - the Vivarail engine fire being the most obvious example, although that was a bit too public for them just to keep quiet about it. The fact they haven't done this creates rumours that there is some fundamental problem.
     
  29. 6Gtraincrew

    6Gtraincrew Member

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    We'll believe it when we see it, but TFW's 769's in service in September according to one of this afternoons tweets. Which year is anyone's guess.
     

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  30. Killingworth

    Killingworth Established Member

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    That sounds potentially good news for the train type, but nothing so far on the Northern front. Latest publicly available seems be a very out of date page on their website; https://www.northernrailway.co.uk/n...orthern-to-explore-innovations-for-lakes-line

    I want this project to succeed, but with the lack of any visible progress or authoritative specific news since the suggested May 2018 introduction date it's hardly surprising folks are getting a little impatient.
     

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