Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press to get ac­cess to fur­ther Class 68s

Rail (UK) - - Fleet News - Richard Clin­nick richard.clin­nick@bauer­me­dia.co.uk @Clin­nick1

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).

RICHARD CLIN­NICK.

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.

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