Scrapping of Mk3 sleeper vehicles by British Rail

modernrail

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I think I have read that British Rail ordered loads of Mark III sleeper carriages in the early 1980's only to scrap most of them later that decade. Tell me this is not true? If it is, when added to the Nightstar fiasco this would explain where the entire budget for decent trains in the north has gone over the last 30 years...on carriages for night trains that only ran for a few years or didn't run at all. That is 2 sets of very expensive carriages ordered and scrapped within the (horribly extended) lifetime of the Pacers. I am all for a ghost train but this is taking the concept far too far. If repurposed, I could have been travelling from Castleford to Leeds fully recumbent.
 
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GusB

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I think I have read that British Rail ordered loads of Mark III sleeper carriages in the early 1980's only to scrap most of them later that decade. Tell me this is not true? If it is, when added to the Nightstar fiasco this would explain where the entire budget for decent trains in the north has gone over the last 30 years...on carriages for night trains that only ran for a few years or didn't run at all. That is 2 sets of very expensive carraiges ordered and scrapped within the (horribly extended) lifetime of the Pacers. I am all for a ghost train but this is taking the concept far too far. If repurposed, I could have been travelling from Castleford to Leeds fully recumbent.
I counted the different types of Mk3 coach that was listed in the 1989 Ian Allan coaching stock book - the numbers are here on the forum somewhere. It did seem to me at the time that the numbers built were far in excess of what was actually needed.
 

modernrail

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I counted the different types of Mk3 coach that was listed in the 1989 Ian Allan coaching stock book - the numbers are here on the forum somewhere. It did seem to me at the time that the numbers built were far in excess of what was actually needed.
I have read somewhere that a few were leased to Denmark but then scrapped and quite a few ended up at heritage railways as volunteer accommodation. If true, how crazy. Seriously, I absolutely love sleeper trains but how typical of the Tories to fail to do their homework, fob the north off with absolute garbage at the same time as ordering not 1 but 2 fleets of hardly used or never used sleeper carriages and a set of regional Eurostars, all capable of 125 mph or above. On which planet do these people live? It is no wonder we have ended up with such confused politics. In national investment terms, it is all complete gibberish.
 

randyrippley

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at the time the mk3 sleepers were scrapped it was claimed the bogies were urgently needed as spares for the day fleet.
Presumably there were other shared components as well?
 

Journeyman

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Yes, over 200 Mark 3 sleepers were built, and many of them withdrawn after just a few years. Most of them were stored for a long time, and were only scrapped quite recently. The ones leased to Denmark led a respectably long life, and were withdrawn when a new rail bridge made the journey they were used on much shorter.

I don't think it's very fair to rant too much at the mistake of ordering them. At the time, the sleeper network was quite large, and the Mark 3s arrived somewhat later than planned due to the need to modify the design after the Taunton sleeping car fire in 1978. The early 80s recession caused a lot of damage to the market, as did (ironically) BR's increasingly fast daytime services. I admire the optimism with which they were ordered, as clearly the intention was to retain a reasonably large network, but sometimes these things are overtaken by events that you can't really foresee.

That said, the network was modestly large until the Scotland - South West services went in the mid-90s. Changing patterns of military travel saw that one off as the MOD required less of its staff to regularly travel between Rosyth/Faslane and Devonport.

Nightstar was destroyed by the very rapid rise of Ryanair and EasyJet. Again, not really anyone's fault, and I'm not going to weep any tears over it.
 

Journeyman

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Seriously, I absolutely love sleeper trains but how typical of the Tories to fail to do their homework, fob the north off with absolute garbage at the same time as ordering not 1 but 2 fleets of hardly used or never used sleeper carriages and a set of regional Eurostars, all capable of 125 mph or above.
The Mark 3 sleepers would have been authorised and ordered at the tail end of the Labour government, and the Nightstar stock was an international decision with inputs and funding from a wide range of bodies. Still, don't let the truth get in the way of a good political rant.
 

Shaw S Hunter

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As per @Journeyman sleeper services were largely killed by outside forces. It is debatable as to whether these could have been foreseen. And exactly the same thing has happened right across Europe. Absolutely pointless to try and make some sort of political point about it now.
 

ChiefPlanner

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At the time of ordering the MK3 sleepers , the overall sleeper market was quite buoyant and well worth operating , bar the odd lemon like the Stranraer run , so the investment was clearly quite appropriate for the time, and it would not have gone through the investment panel at BR , let alone the beady eyed bean counters at the DfT , unless it was deemed a runner.

The external world changed , and things moved on.

Someone , somewhere needs to write a book on the "sleeper story" ...
 

Shaw S Hunter

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Just to reiterate to the OP: there is no three way connection between the Tories, excessive production of sleeper coaches and the 1980s nasty that is the Pacer!
If you want to blame anyone then blame the northern PTEs for being so enthusiastic about ordering 142s when the government restricted the number of 150s ordered by BR. It was all very well having to resort to cheap and nasty trains to keep up the fleet strength but to then put them on urban stopping services where they really didn't belong set a horrible trend we are still having to endure to this day.
 

Peter Mugridge

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The Mark 3 sleepers would have been authorised and ordered at the tail end of the Labour government.
Yes, the order was placed in 1979 and had already been delayed due to some re-design work needed after the Taunton fire; that was in summer 1978 so the Mk 3 Sleeper procurement had already been under way for several months by the middle of 1978.

If anyone has access to the order dates of specific BR lot numbers, the Mk 3 Sleepers are under lot numbers 30960 and 30961.
 
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randyrippley

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If you want to blame anyone then blame the northern PTEs for being so enthusiastic about ordering 142s when the government restricted the number of 150s ordered by BR. It was all very well having to resort to cheap and nasty trains to keep up the fleet strength but to then put them on urban stopping services where they really didn't belong set a horrible trend we are still having to endure to this day.
Well where else would they belong? Thats what they were ordered for.
 

Shaw S Hunter

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Well where else would they belong? Thats what they were ordered for.
But as designed they were intended for routes like Heart of Wales, Lincolnshire, Cumbrian Coast, etc, ie lightly trafficked rural routes, not urban/suburban networks. Their comparative cheapness proved irresistible to the PTEs with little thought as to their operational suitability. Part of the problem was the development cul-de-sac that was the class 210 which made more conventional dmus generally look expensive.
 

SC43090

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The new MK3 sleepers only had a few years on the ECML overnight services before the services were withdrawn due to electrification of the ECML.... BR did promise to reinstate the sleeper services after compleation of electrification but never did to the anger of Scottish MPs of the day.... Due to the withdrawal of East Coast sleeper services which mean't there was a surplus of MK3 sleepers even though BR did introduce a service from Scotland to Poole around 1986 but ran for no more than a year..... ( if memory is correct )

SC 43090
 

delt1c

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Could just imagine it, excess sleepers transfered to the North to work instead of Pacers. Would not have been many seats but those who did get a seat (berth) would have a pleasnt journey to work, but risk oversleeping. lol
 

Cowley

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Could just imagine it, excess sleepers transfered to the North to work instead of Pacers. Would not have been many seats but those who did get a seat (berth) would have a pleasnt journey to work, but risk oversleeping. lol
You could just buy a rover ticket and never bother going home...
 

delt1c

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Or you could remain on the sleeper and work from "your berth". Imagine the crowding in corridor and gangways
 

yorksrob

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But as designed they were intended for routes like Heart of Wales, Lincolnshire, Cumbrian Coast, etc, ie lightly trafficked rural routes, not urban/suburban networks. Their comparative cheapness proved irresistible to the PTEs with little thought as to their operational suitability. Part of the problem was the development cul-de-sac that was the class 210 which made more conventional dmus generally look expensive.
Goodness, they'd have been even less suited for long rural routes.
 

yorksrob

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I remember someone saying on here that the Scotland to South West sleeper was one of the better routes, but didn't fit in anywhere at privatisation.
 

sprinterguy

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Could just imagine it, excess sleepers transfered to the North to work instead of Pacers. Would not have been many seats but those who did get a seat (berth) would have a pleasnt journey to work, but risk oversleeping. lol
Presumably for Northern commuter services they'd rip out the berths and stack the passengers 3 or 4 high in horizontal pigeon-hole like 'pods'. :lol: You could fit 6 - 8 pods in the space of a berth, and hence accommodate 72 - 96 passengers per carriage: Can't have Northerners getting used to the concept of travelling in comfort! :lol:
 
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Journeyman

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I remember someone saying on here that the Scotland to South West sleeper was one of the better routes, but didn't fit in anywhere at privatisation.
That was part of the problem. The London sleepers had gone to ScotRail, and there's no major reason why the south-west ones couldn't have done either, but the long-term prospects didn't look good due to changing military travel patterns.
 

yorksrob

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That was part of the problem. The London sleepers had gone to ScotRail, and there's no major reason why the south-west ones couldn't have done either, but the long-term prospects didn't look good due to changing military travel patterns.
Shame really. I suppose they got around fifteen years use out of them though.
 

Journeyman

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Shame really. I suppose they got around fifteen years use out of them though.
True, and there's plenty of rolling stock that's had shorter lives than that. Many class 501 and 504 EMUs only lasted a few years, a lot of the very early DMUs, LU 1983 Stock, a lot of Modernisation Plan locos...sometimes things just don't go the way you planned them.
 

yorksrob

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True, and there's plenty of rolling stock that's had shorter lives than that. Many class 501 and 504 EMUs only lasted a few years, a lot of the very early DMUs, LU 1983 Stock, a lot of Modernisation Plan locos...sometimes things just don't go the way you planned them.
A particular shame about the 501 and 504 units, as they were what I would class as 'proper' trains.
 

Bevan Price

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A particular shame about the 501 and 504 units, as they were what I would class as 'proper' trains.
Some of the class 504s lasted for 32 years, which was a typically good lifetime for rolling stock at that time. But others lasted less than 10 years due to some severe reductions in service frequency on the Manchester / Bury line (before PTEs had any involvement in deciding service levels), and much use of inadequate 2 coach formations rather than 4 coaches.
 

yorksrob

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Some of the class 504s lasted for 32 years, which was a typically good lifetime for rolling stock at that time. But others lasted less than 10 years due to some severe reductions in service frequency on the Manchester / Bury line (before PTEs had any involvement in deciding service levels), and much use of inadequate 2 coach formations rather than 4 coaches.
Well, 32 years is perhaps a good lifetime in non-Southern Region terms !

Wish I'd had the chance to sample the route before it went to Metrolink.
 

Alfonso

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Presumably for Northern commuter services they'd rip out the berths and stack the passengers 3 or 4 high in horizontal pigeon-hole like 'pods'. :lol: You could fit 6 - 8 pods in the space of a berth, and hence accommodate 72 - 96 passengers per carriage: Can't have Northerners getting used to the concept of travelling in comfort! :lol:
Does anyone remember the SNCF "Cabine 8"...they fitted 8 people quite uncomfortably sort of lying down in a compartment?
 

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