DfT: bi-mode could encourage line reopenings
THE use of lightweight, refreshed and re-purposed vehicles could strengthen the case for reopening disused lines, according to the Department for Transport.
In its Rolling Stock Perspective Fourth Edition, published on October 25, the DfT highlights the hydrogen-powered Class 321s from Alstom, Vivarail’s hybrid Class 230s, and Angel Trains’ Class 165 HyDrive trains ( RAIL 862).
“These vehicles…offered to the market at competitive rates, could strengthen the case for the reopening of disused lines,” it says.
“As the demand for housing and business premises that are well-connected to the main line increases, the reopening of these old alignments would invigorate local services.”
The DfT has also called for measures to be put in place to reduce pollution at source, suggesting auto engine stop-start software, electric launch systems and station shore supplies could all be used during long dwell periods.
DfT adds: “We expect train owners and manufacturers to further develop proposals to convert their existing or future diesel trains to bi-mode or use an alternative energy source to diesel.”
The taskforce created to investigate the decarbonisation of the railways by 2040 ( RAIL 847) will follow up its initial findings next year, with a final report incorporating an economic appraisal and route map to deliver its recommendations.
DfT adds: “Recent advances in energy storage technologies like batteries and hydrogen are at, or approaching, the stage where they will be suitable for some types of journey which do not have such high energy and power demands, such as rural branch line and suburban commuter services. It is expected that this technology will develop quickly in the coming years.”
The Rolling Stock Perspective
notes that a small percentage of trains do not yet meet the accessibility standards which all trains must meet by January 1 2020, saying: “We expect train owners and operators to target these vehicles for upgrade in the coming months.”
It makes no mention of the East Midlands Trains High Speed Trains fleet, which owner Porterbrook highlighted as needing modifications as far back as 2015, and which the DfT declined to authorise ( RAIL 850).
Writing the Foreword to the report, Rail Minister Jo Johnson called the train market in the UK “vibrant”, saying that private companies “are showing how they can marry opportunity and innovation to repurpose existing stock like the Vivarail trains, Angel’s HyDrive or Porterbrook’s tri-mode vehicles.”
The report also highlights that since the third edition was published last year, more than 900 new vehicles have been ordered, with trains to be built for Crossrail, Essex Thameside, Wales & Borders and West Midlands (see panel).
On October 18, Northern 195103 crosses Carlisle Bridge (Lancaster) with a test train. CAF built this diesel multiple unit, and is building trains for two other operators as part of orders for more than 600 vehicles placed in the past year.