The future for Chiltern's Class 121 "bubble car" units?

Discussion in 'Traction & Rolling Stock' started by yorkie, 24 Feb 2017.

  1. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Does anyone know what the future holds for Chiltern's Class 121 "bubble car" units?

    I understand units 121020 & 121034 are owned by Chiltern, one of which would normally be allocated to the peak time 'shuttle' service between Princes Risborough & Aylesbury.

    However I have heard that they require spare parts which are becoming difficult to obtain, and there may be a possibility that they will cease to run after the May timetable change.

    Does anyone have information regarding these units?
     
  2. swt class 450

    swt class 450 Established Member

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    Do Chiltern Railways have enough spare 165s / 168s / 172s to replace the 121s? I wonder if and when the 121s get withdrawn if Chiltern Railways could run a service between London Marylebone and Aylesbury via High Wycombe every hour all day rather than having a shuttle (perhaps they could do this by extending some of the Gerrards Cross or High Wycombe services)? If the 121s get withdrawn i imagine they will both probably either end up going to a heritage railway (maybe the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway for example) or getting used for some sort of maintenance train.
     
  3. SpacePhoenix

    SpacePhoenix Established Member

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    That's were I'd expect them to go, could the difficulty with getting spares for them be the same reason that Swanage Railway found with the parts being made to imperial measurements and no one/company manufacturing stuff to imperial measurements?
     
  4. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Wasn't there a stock of bubblecars at Aylesbury which were presumably available for cannibalising ?
     
  5. 150219

    150219 Member

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    That is essentially what the base service is anyway. The 121 covers for a few trips in the morning and evening, generally to accommodate the 'contra-peak' passenger flow.
     
  6. 150219

    150219 Member

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    Yes indeed. All of the reusable parts were salvaged, before the vehicles were sold on.
     
  7. 87015

    87015 Established Member

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    Officially planned to finish in May. Supposedly can cover by working existing fleet harder, but given the regular 165/168 short-forms it seems a brave plan!!
     
  8. physics34

    physics34 Established Member

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    no doubt they will be saved
     
  9. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    Nowhere near enough to a Pacer :(
    Would a slightly higher speed and up specked internally PPM work on this service, or dare I say it, a 230?

    Off into hiding now!
     
  10. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Well there is word on the street that someone has placed a single digit order for some 230s. Two units for Chiltern to replace the Bubble Car could fit the bill!
     
  11. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    Nowhere near enough to a Pacer :(
    Or potentially a DB group order of 9 for Chiltern for the above and a few for ATW for Cardiff Bay shuttle, Borderlands and Crewe/Chester/Shrewsbury locals?
     
  12. trash80

    trash80 Member

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    I'd like to travel on one before they get withdrawn (if so), do they just run peak times in the week?
     
  13. causton

    causton Established Member

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    There is a very helpful thread with all these sorts of diagrams in! :)

    Here is the post for Chiltern.
     
  14. OneTrackMind

    OneTrackMind Member

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    As already mentioned above, both Class 121's will be coming out of passenger service at the May timetable change.

    They will be sold I believe.

    There is certainly an interest in the 230's to relieve short term capacity issues ... but nothing confirmed as of yet.
     
  15. KingDaveRa

    KingDaveRa Member

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    As much as I like the fact the old bubble cars are still around, a couple of colleagues who have endured them on their morning commutes have complained how awful they are, so it's about time Chiltern did retire them.

    In a way it wouldn't surprise me if a 230 or two didn't appear to pick up the slack, given the connection between Vivarail and Chiltern (i.e. the MD).

    Be a shame to have to use a 165 or 168 for the Quaintonian though. Half the fun of that is the bubble car.
     
  16. 87015

    87015 Established Member

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    I don't think additional stock will be the save money answer that cutting the 121s is largely down to...
     
  17. SpacePhoenix

    SpacePhoenix Established Member

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    Are they the oldest DMUs in use outside of any preserved railway?
     
  18. headshot119

    headshot119 Established Member

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    In passenger service yes. I'm not sure about departmental use.
     
  19. ChilternTurbo

    ChilternTurbo Member

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    I'm a Chiltern season ticket holder and regularly travel on these. I'll miss the well sprung seats and the puzzled looks on people faces at Princes Risborough when confronted with a 50+ year old train displaying the Pwllheli etc. on the blind. My commute will certainly be a duller one when they're gone but appreciate not all the lines regulars feel the same...
     
  20. NickBucks

    NickBucks Member

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    Agreed. 20 minutes of heritage on the real railway and I remember when this type of stock was standard fare on the Aylesbury to Marylebone line.
     
  21. GW43125

    GW43125 Established Member

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    It'll be a shame to see these go, but if it's getting to the point that getting spares is becoming a pain, then I can understand it.

    On a side note, what's the braking system on these?
     
  22. XCTurbostar

    XCTurbostar Member

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    If the issue is spares, what can a private owner (Preservation) do which Chiltern can't?

    Is it a case of; in a preserved environment they wont be worked as hard therefore parts are not needed as much?

    Thanks,
    Ross
     
  23. Roast Veg

    Roast Veg Member

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    Have the unit out of action for months or years at a time while custom spares are manufactured without losing out on a contracted service.
     
  24. SpacePhoenix

    SpacePhoenix Established Member

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    i believe that the Swanage Railway are having to get parts made in the US for their heritage DMU that they'll be using to Wareham
     
  25. JoeGJ1984

    JoeGJ1984 Member

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    If they are going at the May timetable change, are they going to any sort of 'farewell' for them, perhaps on Saturday 20th May (although they don't normally run at weekends).
     
  26. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Vacuum I believe.
     
  27. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    One would have thought that in the age of 3D printing, spares shortages would be a thing of the past !
     
  28. Jordeh

    Jordeh Member

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    Perhaps one day but fair to say we're not in the age of 3D printing - it's neither widespread, affordable or up to the job... yet.
     
  29. co-tr-paul

    co-tr-paul Member

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    Perhaps we can use them down here on the self contained Looe or St Ives branches.....!
     
  30. KingDaveRa

    KingDaveRa Member

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    Yes and no. If you had a CAD drawing of the part (the first stumbling block for a 50 year old vehicle), you can have it 3D printed, and a part cast from it in no time. It's known as rapid prototyping and has been going on for years. Part of the university I work for had a business unit doing it well before anybody else was, and big car manufacturers and others would use their services to crank out a part to see what it was like, and how it fit, etc.

    My understanding is that it's for prototyping though, so whilst you can 'print' a major engine part, it might not be up to the job of doing what's expected of it. Plus the resulting part is a single solid lump. If you needed something a bit more specific, like an alternator or a gearing assembly or something, you've got a whole array of parts to computer model, print, cast, clean up, then assemble. I think if you want something made that is fully reliable, it'll cost a LOT of money as the processes for doing that are expensive.

    And as I say, parts are often not just lumps of metal, so there's electrical parts to worry about. Then again, often things can be replaced with something completely new, but then there's probably associated costs of doing that, and potential training costs if it affects how the unit is operated.

    3D printing isn't yet the answer to all our problems, unfortunately.
     

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