Was the InterCity Express Programme (IEP) a success or not?

Bletchleyite

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Fainsa MD (it stands for media distancia / medium distance).
What I didn't know is that the Standard class version is used on the ICE2, and isn't universally popular either, though I personally don't recall disliking them and it may have been a better choice for Standard in the 80x.


The overall ambiance I find very similar to the Desiro, which is fine by me as I like those. Other than that I'd rather the Grammer E3000 seat, it basically feels like a 125mph Class 444, which is no bad thing at all.
 
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superalbs

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What I didn't know is that the Standard class version is used on the ICE2, and isn't universally popular either, though I personally don't recall disliking them and it may have been a better choice for Standard in the 80x.


The overall ambiance I find very similar to the Desiro, which is fine by me as I like those.
Yeah you could get away with it in standard class, but in first class is a true comedy train.
 

Bletchleyite

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Yeah you could get away with it in standard class, but in first class is a true comedy train.
I considered Weekend First once on GWR and decided it not worth the money. I did actually do Weekend First on a TPE set and it was only worth the money because Standard was, as per usual for TPE, full and standing, because they couldn't be bothered to run the full service.

First Class on a Mk5 - now that is something very, very special - and it's the same seat base, just a better cushion!
 

Energy

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Uncomfortable seats
Mainly the cushioning, can be easily changed. As seat bases get changed over time in maintanence I would swap them for more comfortable ones.
no buffet car
There is a buffet car on the LNER sets, the GWR ones just have a weirdly specced interior with grey seats which could do with a little colour and no buffet but all of them (including the 5 cars which really shouldn't) have a kitchen. Also GWR have far too many 5 cars, they should have more 9 cars.
super bright lights
These can be easily fixed and don't render a make a whole train bad.
A poor replacement overall, especially compared to the original, revolutionary HSTs.
How revolutionary were the HSTs as a train and not the improved service. At the end of the day they are just push pull loco hauled diesel sets although they do have a high speed.
too preparatory
Cambridge dictionary says preparatory is "done in order to get ready for something" so it doesn't really make sense as "too preparatory" and I'm not really sure what the criticism is here.
too lower quality
I haven't heard bad quality before, apart from the leaky aircon which was a teething problem and the aircon is supplied by another company.

Shame about the seating and ludicrous number of 5 car sets ordered on certain routes .
The seating isn't excellent but could be fixed/improved with a better cushion, I agree with that there are too many 5 car sets.
 

Midnight Sun

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Cycle storage is a joke, a classic case of style and looks over function. It clear that no throught went into the process of loading and unloading a bike in short time of a stop. Only a fool would design a system that requires that one bike is hung by the back wheel and the next bike along side by the front wheel. The CTC has a very large file on the problems that this crap design causes. In a one minuite stop you may have a case of four bikes that need to be loaded or unloaded through one tight for space area full of people. All too often the cyclist is either unable to board or get off the train in time. Yet you can load six bikes with full panners onto a FLIRT and the owners seated in less time than it take to just load one bike on to a IET. THe Japs get it badly wrong, the Swiss get it right. Take out eight seats of the end coach with a wide gangway to the doors with luggage rack above the cycle area. problem solved.

hitachi-bike-storage-unit.jpgClass 755 cycle storage.jpg
 

FQTV

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Pretty sure they are limited to 125mph like their predecessors....

Less comfortable. Less luggage space. Appalling ride. More expensive.

Sample quote from a senior railway manager, as quoted in Modern Railways: "It's just *#@%, *#@%! The ride is *#@%, the seats are *#@%, the train is *#@%".
Purely anecdotal:

I came ‘down’ from King’s Cross last year on an LNER ‘Azuma’ service, in First Class. The service was heavily loaded, but passengers were mostly working and it was rather peaceful. At York, there was a significant changeover of passengers.

Those newly embarking, judged by their lanyards, were LNER office staff commuting North. From then until I disembarked, the carriage was treated to a constant, top note, assassination of the seats, the tables, the sockets and the lights.

I’m therefore not in the least bit surprised that a ‘Senior Railway Manager’ might be bellowing in the same bubble.

Oddly, I noted, those who had occupied the same places prior to their embarkation and who had (presumably) paid for their travel had just sat down, opened their laptops, plugged them in, worked, and covered a distance that, by car, would have taken at least double the time.

And:

I went ‘down’ to Edinburgh and back ‘up’ again with my parents on a Transpennine Express iteration. In Standard Class. Both unilaterally commented that they found the seats firmer but more supportive than they were expecting. My father has Parkinson’s Disease, I should add.

I understand that staff don’t like the kitchens on the LNER stock. I can understand that. The design of the non-accessible washrooms is ludicrous. The door pockets deserve luggage stacks to augment the very capacious overhead racks.

As far as I can work out: the procurement was a shambles; some of the fittings are not fit for purpose; enthusiasts and potentially some staff who should know better are voluble in their criticism of things that, apparently, paying passengers are much less concerned about.

In terms of the things that paying passengers are bothered about, I suspect that some redesigned washrooms, possibly some plusher cushions and much better on board service - however that’s achieved - would be more likely to meet their expectations based on the fares charged.

The scrutiny should therefore be mostly on the details of the procurement process and the ongoing costs, but as these are probably largely a function of the contemporaneous situation as far as British rail is concerned, I’d posit that IEP isn’t itself any kind of problem in context.

I do think that it’s quite a good train, however.
 
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Bletchleyite

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A bit of wood under the seat cushion would do me, I don't like the fact that I can feel the supporting frameworth through the cushion. Other than that they're very similar to Grammer E3000s.

Other than that, they're basically a 125mph Class 444 with optional diesel engines, and people are probably well aware I am a great fan of those.
 

broadgage

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I certainly consider the GWR units to be a significant backwards step.

No buffet, on an intercity route. Trolley service very poor if it appears at all.
Very limited space for cycles, holiday luggage, surfboards prohibited.
Hard seats.
Unreliable reservations.

5 car units totally unsuitable for inter city services.

Feels like an outer suburban DMU, not a long distance train.

Fit padded seats, add a buffet car, and lengthen most of the 5 car units to 9 car, and they would be acceptable.
 

Ashley Hill

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I find the ride appalling,they seem to find voids and pointwork difficult. A proper van for bikes would have been nice together with larger luggage racks. The aisles are too narrow. And yes ,no buffet. It's all well and good the government boasting about how many seats it has provided on board but at the expense of comfort.
 

Puppetfinger

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As someone who grew up with regular trips on HST's to and from Cornwall, I was very saddened to see them go. (I was also saddened when the Valenta was replaced, but that's for another thread!).

As for the IET. I expected to hate them, but actually I like them. Sure, I miss the buffet, but I'll take more seats. Seat wise, I'm fortunate to only have ever travelled on them in First, and I know many will chastise me for this, but I prefer the IET seats to the GWR HST First seats. I could never ever get comfortable in them, in fact, after a journey from Cornwall to London or vice versa, I felt stiff. I can easily sleep in the IET seat.

As for the rest, sure the lighting could be reduced, and the auto announcements need some work, but is that really that difficult? As for ride quality, well I can't say it's any better or worse than a Mk 3.
 

squizzler

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Only a fool would design a system that requires that one bike is hung by the back wheel and the next bike along side by the front wheel. The CTC has a very large file on the problems that this crap design causes.
Never taken a bike on one, but I can advise the CTC went years ago and reformed from the Cycle Touring Club into a charity called "Cycling UK".

As for the unit itself, I don't see the problem other than (has it yet been mentioned?) the chairs are rather firm. They are commercially successful, and it did bring a new factory into the UK market. If we knew then that Hitachi then find itself a better foothold in the EU in Italy, and that every other EU constructor would also build plant in the UK, they might not have bothered of course.

IEP was like NASA's Apollo programme. Expensive and kinda pointless at face value, but did prime the pump for a lot of subsequent progress.
 

hwl

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If we knew then that Hitachi then find itself a better foothold in the EU in Italy, and that every other EU constructor would also build plant in the UK, they might not have bothered of course.
They were after the signalling side of things and had to take the train manufacturing as well.
They are suffering from poor build quality in Italy as their previous ownership did (though progress has been made).
 

Bletchleyite

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To those who really hate the GWR ones, though, I do recommend a trip on a TPE, Hull Trains or LNER set (the latter of course also having a buffet). Just changing the colour scheme makes it feel like a totally different train - the red scheme on the LNER ones best of all in my view.
 

superkev

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I think the MR article was very good but perhaps failed to mention some of the good points of the design. They do go well and look rather sleek.
Biggest failing to me is the ride and the sliding doors with door pockets rather than the plug type.
I'm old enough to remember that after a winter of frozen door tracks NSE said they would only buy trains with plug doors. Fast forward to last year an staff were reportedly using vaseline to try stop the door tracks freezing. Hmm dont we re learn eveything every 10 years or so.
As reported in MR the MK 4 ride was fixed by reversing the bogies and altering the settings from 140 to 125mph in todays world there would be no incentive or money to do anything.
Also that ramp over the engines is not too good. Pity they couldnt have found a horizontal rather than a vee engine. Dont MAN make one.
Interestingly the Midland main line ones are shorter so someone's listened to experience af last.
K
 

Domh245

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Also that ramp over the engines is not too good. Pity they couldnt have found a horizontal rather than a vee engine. Dont MAN make one.
Interestingly the Midland main line ones are shorter so someone's listened to experience af last.
You'd struggle to get the power needed out of any practical or existing inline engine.

As for the MML units, they're only shorter because of the 240m long platforms at St Pancras, if they could have gone for the standard 26m based units I'm sure they would have
 

CW2

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With the national HST fleet becoming due for replacement, and the Mk4 / Class 91 fleet likewise, there were choices to be made:
- Introduce a fleet of bi-mode trains that were fit for any route; or
- Introduce new coaching stock, and fleets of both diesel and electric locos to haul them; or
- Introduce a fleet of new EMUs for electric routes + DMU or bi-mode for non-electrified routes.
As things developed, the bi-mode was re-specced to have uprated diesel engines so that it could run at a reasonable speed off the wires. That in turn enabled the GWML electrification to be cut back once the horrendous cost overruns became apparent.
Personally I would have gone for a loco-hauled solution, with better seats, and more flexibility to change train size when needed. But that approach would have been stuffed when it came to the GWML electrification, unless a really powerful hybrid loco could be delivered.
Given where we are now, perhaps the combined efforts of those on this board would be best directed towards improving the interior design?
 

tomsy47

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As a regular GWR passenger, I’ve found the new stock to be better overall but not without their annoyances. I found the airline seats of the HST were a little claustrophobic due to the high seat back in front of me. The new Class 800s feel more open, even if the seats themselves are less comfortable. I assume the seat backs are slightly lower.

Both HST and Class 800 carriage lights are too bright in my opinion but I find the 800s to be slightly better. The big difference is the capacity of the Class 800s. I’ve always found seats available when an 800 was operating, whereas a HST on the same diagram was often standing room only (unless they put a 5 car 800 out of course)! The biggest thing I don’t miss about the HST was the overwhelming smell of brakes whenever they were slammed on (usually somewhere between Reading and Paddington, usually Airport Junction).
 

Midnight Sun

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Never taken a bike on one, but I can advise the CTC went years ago and reformed from the Cycle Touring Club into a charity called "Cycling UK".

As for the unit itself, I don't see the problem other than (has it yet been mentioned?) the chairs are rather firm. They are commercially successful, and it did bring a new factory into the UK market. If we knew then that Hitachi then find itself a better foothold in the EU in Italy, and that every other EU constructor would also build plant in the UK, they might not have bothered of course.

IEP was like NASA's Apollo programme. Expensive and kinda pointless at face value, but did prime the pump for a lot of subsequent progress.
The club is still known to many as the CTC and will always will be. The name change was rejected by the membership, yet still went ahead. Royal Mail also changed it's name few back and in the end had to change back.

'The train is a badly design pile of crap, who else cuts windows holes out of a bodyshell and than bolts blanks in place'. This comment was made by a Japanese passenger who was happy to tell me that 'the english don't know how to build a train like we Japanese do'. When I showed him the manufacturers markings at York, his jaw dropped with shock.
 

Energy

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The club is still known to many as the CTC and will always will be. The name change was rejected by the membership, yet still went ahead. Royal Mail also changed it's name few back and in the end had to change back.

'The train is a badly design pile of crap, who else cuts windows holes out of a bodyshell and than bolts blanks in place'. This comment was made by a Japanese passenger who was happy to tell me that 'the english don't know how to build a train like we Japanese do'. When I showed him the manufacturers markings at York, his jaw dropped with shock.
Wouldn't the window holes be cut in Japan as that is where the body shells are made?
 

james60059

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Just changing the colour scheme makes it feel like a totally different train - the red scheme on the LNER ones best of all in my view.
I must admit, I did some photography at Claypole last year en-route to East Kirkby Airfield and seen my first Azuma (800102) and thought "Just Wow", indeed the livery makes it look really vibrant.
 

Midnight Sun

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Wouldn't the window holes be cut in Japan as that is where the body shells are made?
The qoute about the windows holes being cut out and then filled in with blanks was made by the Japanese passenger. But he did have a point why cut them out in the first place.
 

Bletchleyite

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The qoute about the windows holes being cut out and then filled in with blanks was made by the Japanese passenger. But he did have a point why cut them out in the first place.
1. Because it's cheaper to make a standard bodyshell.
2. Because it could potentially be converted to have passenger space in that area later?

Are they actually cut out and blanked, anyway, or is it more like a panel van which has "window" shaped blanks that aren't cut so you can more easily make a minibus or crew van of the same type by cutting them out?
 

Bletchleyite

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I must admit, I did some photography at Claypole last year en-route to East Kirkby Airfield and seen my first Azuma (800102) and thought "Just Wow", indeed the livery makes it look really vibrant.
The interior is really nice, bright, warm and modern in Standard and subdued and classy in 1st - yet the seats are identical. The GWR interior was a very poor choice - drab grey with a stripe in the exact colour of lime green buses used to have their handrails painted in the 1990s.
 

stuu

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Also that ramp over the engines is not too good.
I'd completely forgotten all the nonsense about those. They are barely noticeable, if you didn't know about them I doubt you would even think about it.

Generally they seem a perfectly decent train let down by some poor interior design (gwr ones), which is easily resolved.

That said, whomever designed the sinks in the small toilets should find another profession as a matter of urgency
 

Bletchleyite

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That said, whomever designed the sinks in the small toilets should find another profession as a matter of urgency
There is worse bog design on the railways. The standard module used on most retrofits has the pan so crammed into the corner against the sink that anyone vaguely long-legged can't, shall we say, engage in a seated performance. Such poor design that it's bizarre.

I do agree about pretty much all of those sinks, though, the console above them means it's hard to see precisely where you put your hands to activate the flow unless you're about 3' 6" tall. I'm not convinced the old BR design of a foot-pedal to start the water isn't better in the non-accessible bog.
 

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