With­drawal of HSTs prompts fears of Mid­land Main Line stock short­fall

Rail (UK) - - Network News -

“I do not know what sto­ries the Labour party has been lis­ten­ing to. The Mid­land Main Line will have brand new, bi-mode trains de­liv­ered in the early 2020s, which is years ahead of what would oth­er­wise have been the case un­der the orig­i­nal scheme.”

That was Sec­re­tary of State for Trans­port Chris Grayling’s re­sponse to Clive Betts (Labour, Sh­effield South East), dur­ing a par­lia­men­tary de­bate on March 1. MPs were dis­cussing the im­pend­ing forced with­drawal of High Speed Trains from the Mid­land Main Line by De­cem­ber 31 2019.

The HSTs must be with­drawn as they do not meet dis­abil­ity reg­u­la­tions that must be in place by the end of next year. How­ever, the re­place­ment bi-mode trains are not due un­til 2022, which leaves a hia­tus dur­ing which time the loss of eight eight-car and three six-car HSTs must be cov­ered by the East Mid­lands fran­chise. There are cur­rently no plans for this.

Betts had asked if there was a plan for the HST power cars cur­rently used by East Mid­lands Trains on the MML to be mod­i­fied, to haul Mk 4 coaches made re­dun­dant by the in­tro­duc­tion of Class 800/801 Azu­mas on the East Coast Main Line from Novem­ber this year. Class 91/Mk 4 sets will be with­drawn from next year.

He said: “Is it true that for the new East Mid­lands rail fran­chise in 2020, the cur­rent HST car­riages will be scrapped be­cause they are dis­abil­ity non-com­pli­ant, and the power cars will then be matched with sec­ond-hand, cast-off car­riages from the East Coast Main Line? In­stead of the brand new, hy­brid hy­dro­gen trains that we were promised, we will get hy­brid trains com­posed of 30-year-old power cars and 30-year-old dis­carded car­riages from an­other line.”

Porter­brook, which owns the eight-coach HSTs, had pre­vi­ously high­lighted the com­pli­ance is­sue, and had of­fered to Gov­ern­ment to have the stock mod­i­fied to meet the dead­line. This was re­jected, and now there is no space at Wabtec to have the stock mod­i­fied.

The in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty for the slide-door mod­i­fi­ca­tions be­ing car­ried out on Cross­Coun­try, Great Western and ScotRail HST Mk 3s is owned by An­gel Trains, whereas the eight-coach EMT HSTs are owned by Porter­brook. The Mk 4s are owned by Ever­sholt Rail.

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