Improvements demanded for Mk 1 compliance
MAIN line charter operators must upgrade their rolling stock, so that it conforms to the same rules as more modern rolling stock when running on the national network.
That was the conclusion of HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser CBE, speaking at the Charter Industry Conference held at the National Railway Museum in York on October 24.
The exemption allowing British Rail Mk 1 coaches to operate on the main line expires in 2023. While Prosser said he would like to see Mk 1s remain on the main line beyond then, owners will need to make a number of modifications in order to gain a new certificate of exemption.
“Our intention is to allow the use of the vehicles beyond 2023. There have to be improvements between now and 2023 and I’m making that message very clear - we are not carrying on as we are now, there is no such thing as status quo,” he told conference delegates.
“This sector needs to move faster than it has done in the past, and we need to embrace it. Although many of the vehicles are heritage, they can still be modernised.”
He added: “Pacers are coming to the end, thank God. I was going to ban them anyway at some point, so we do need to move on and treat our passengers with respect.”
Prosser said that for vehicles to comply, central door locking will need to be installed, as well as an inward door handle. This would also reduce the amount the droplights can be opened. At present, Mk 1s
are slammed shut and secured via a secondary door bolt.
“Currently, coaches rely on a simple door latch which any adult can operate, which is not good enough,” he said.
“Central door locking solutions have been developed for heritage vehicles, so that means there is a prescient. We expect all passenger stock to have central door locking if it is to be used beyond 2023, and will not grant any exemptions for hinged doors beyond 2023.
“Droplight windows can therefore have their opening restricted, and that is going to happen because I don’t want to see someone with a film camera hanging out of a window. I am not going to accept it. We need to come into the 21st century, as these coaches are not toys.”
He added that corrosion on Mk 1s is also an issue that will need to addressed in order for vehicles to continue to run on NR metals beyond 2023.
Furthermore, Prosser said Network Rail data suggests that twice as many Mk 1s are registered to operate on the national network than have been used in the past three years, and added: “I do not want that to continue. We are only going to exempt vehicles that are fit to run.
“You will need to demonstrate that corrosion is well-managed, as we are going into a place that is pretty much unknown. If you can’t demonstrate the vehicle is in a fit state, no exemption will be provided.”
Prosser added that Mk 1s must not release effluent on the tracks, and that the rules will equally apply to heritage lines that use NR metals, such as the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
“If you operate on the main line railway you have to play by the rules. Everyone else does,” he said.
“We will support you through the process and work very closely with NR. And we will give you enough time to work on the exemptions to ensure the vehicles can pay for themselves, as we understand the economic arguments and business cases needed to make investments.”
On September 9, preserved 47580 County of Essex hauls a Norwich-Acton empty stock move through Little Thetford (near Ely). The future of rolling stock used by charters was discussed at a Network Rail conference in York on October 24.