Rail (UK)

TfW’s con­verted FLEX car­ries first pas­sen­gers

- Richard Clin­nick Head of News richard.clin­nick@bauer­me­dia.co.uk @Richard_rail Transportation · Industries · Porterbrook · Cardiff · Transport for Wales · Arriva Trains Wales · Arriva · Rhymney

HEAV­ILY de­layed Class 769 FLEX trains fi­nally car­ried pas­sen­gers on Novem­ber 16 - al­most four years after the con­cept was re­vealed by Porter­brook, and al­most three years later than was first en­vis­aged.

Trans­port for Wales was the first to use a ‘769’ for pas­sen­ger ser­vice, when 769002 formed the 0714 Rhym­ney-Cardiff Cen­tral.

The de­sign in­volves fit­ting two MAN D2876 diesel gensets to four-car elec­tric mul­ti­ple units to cre­ate a bi-mode train. How­ever, the de­signs vary - while that will be the case for North­ern and Orion trains, TfW Class 769s are dieselonly units, hav­ing had their thirdrail shoegear and pan­tographs re­moved.

The project has been be­set by de­lays, rang­ing from not hav­ing the ca­pac­ity to carry out the work to test­ing and rec­ti­fy­ing faults, as well as driver train­ing be­ing af­fected by COVID-19 be­cause of rules re­lat­ing to so­cial dis­tanc­ing.

TfW is cur­rently us­ing one train on peak-time ser­vices, with 769003 used on Novem­ber 18. It’s hoped that two ‘769s’ could be in traf­fic on the Val­leys from the De­cem­ber timetable change.

A TfW spokesman told RAIL: “The larger trains, pro­vid­ing more seats and bet­ter ac­ces­si­bil­ity, will be in­tro­duced in all-day ser­vice in De­cem­ber.”

Ini­tially, TfW is high­light­ing the ex­tra space for so­cial dis­tanc­ing of­fered by the con­verted trains. It has also cre­ated train­ing ‘bub­bles’ with trade unions, to en­able trac­tion train­ing dur­ing the pan­demic.

Ar­riva Trains Wales or­dered an ini­tial five FLEX trains in July 2017, with the aim of them en­ter­ing traf­fic the fol­low­ing year. The or­der was ex­tended to take it to nine Class 769s, and these were to op­er­ate on the Welsh Val­leys - en­abling Sprint­ers to be re­fur­bished to meet new ac­ces­si­bil­ity reg­u­la­tions that came into force from Jan­uary 1 2020, and to en­able the with­drawal of 30 Pac­ers.

How­ever, de­lays to the ‘769’ project forced TfW to ap­ply for dis­pen­sa­tion to use Pac­ers into 2020, and to look for ad­di­tional diesel mul­ti­ple units from other

sources (in­clud­ing sev­eral ‘153s’).

TfW aims to have all nine in traf­fic by May, as they are passed for ser­vice and suf­fi­cient crews are trained. This will en­able the with­drawal of Pac­ers, al­though two sets of di­a­grams are be­ing re­tained for ei­ther sce­nario.

When Porter­brook re­vealed the con­cept in De­cem­ber 2016 ( RAIL 818), it ini­tially agreed an eight­train deal with North­ern, with the prospect of half of them be­ing in traf­fic one year later.

As this is­sue of RAIL went to press, all eight had been de­liv­ered to North­ern, but none had yet car­ried pas­sen­gers. A spokesman told RAIL that spring 2021 was now the tar­get for North­ern.

 ?? JEREMY SEGROTT. ?? Trans­port for Wales 769002 stands at Cardiff Queen Street on Novem­ber 16, with the 0714 Rhym­ney-Cardiff Cen­tral. This was the first FLEX-op­er­ated train in the UK.
JEREMY SEGROTT. Trans­port for Wales 769002 stands at Cardiff Queen Street on Novem­ber 16, with the 0714 Rhym­ney-Cardiff Cen­tral. This was the first FLEX-op­er­ated train in the UK.
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