TransPennine Express to get access to further Class 68s
SIX more Class 68s have been added to TransPennine Express’ requirements, taking to 19 the number of ‘68s’ to which the operator will have access.
In May, when TPE confirmed it was ordering 13 rakes of Mk 5s from Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), it was confirmed that 13 Class 68s would be supplied by Direct Rail Services.
That number has now been increased to 19, and comes as TPE prepares to take delivery of a rake of Mk 3 coaches from Abellio Greater Anglia.
The former Virgin Trains ‘Pretendolino’ rake of stock will be overhauled before being put into use. It had been leased by AGA as cover for its own Mk 3s undergoing refurbishment. It was planned to hand it back to Porterbrook earlier this year, but that was delayed while AGA completed a programme to fit Controlled Emission Toilet (CET) tanks to its own Mk 3s.
TPE spokesman Sarah Cunningham told RAIL on September 28: “The Mk 3 coaches will come from AGA and then go through an overhaul programme. Once works are complete, the coaches will be used for Class 68 driver training during 2017-2018, to enable the rollout of our newbuild CAF Mk 5a coaches.
“Once driver training is completed, these vehicles will act as a contingency to enable the business to respond to periods of high demand. TPE will have access to up to 19 Class 68s to provide motive power for the Mk 5a and Mk 3 fleets.”
Cunningham declined to comment on the routes where the Mk 3s would be used, and whether they would be introduced on planned additional services next year.
TPE plans to introduce its CAF coaching stock in 2018, initially between Liverpool Lime Street and Newcastle, before transferring the ‘68’-hauled trains to non-electrified lines, with the Hitachi AT300 Class 802s operating trains to Newcastle. These are due for delivery in 2019.
Should TPE use all 19 Class 68s, then currently DRS will have 30 of its 32 Class 68s available for other operators.
Currently there are six hired to Chiltern Railways (68010-68015), with a further two (68008/009) modified for use with CR stock. ScotRail hires two (68006/007) for its locomotive-hauled trains with one more spare, while until December AGA hires two locomotives (68022/024 at the end of September).
The majority of those being leased to TPE are already in the UK, although 68026-68032 have yet to be delivered by Stadler from its Valencia factory.
With 19 locomotives planned for TPE, up to eight for Chiltern and three for ScotRail, that leaves DRS with two ‘68s’ from a fleet of 32.
DRS also owns seven Mk 3s stored at Barrow Hill (Open Firsts 11006/011, Standard Opens 12047/063/065/087, 12134), and two Mk 3 Driving Van Trailers stored at LORAM UK’s Derby (82101/126).
Direct Rail Services currently hires Class 68s to three train operating companies, and up to 19 of the current 32 either delivered or on order will be hired to TransPennine Express from 2017. On September 27, 68024 Centaur arrives at Great Yarmouth with the 1640 from Norwich.