On yer bike!
ScotRail releases pictures showing how Class 153s could be converted to carry bicycles on West Highland trains.
SCOTRAIL’S plan to provide Class 153 diesel units dedicated to carrying bicycles on West Highland services took a step forward in November, with the release of a series of pictures showing how the converted units could look.
In conjunction with Transport Scotland, ScotRail is examining the possibility of using several of the single-car diesel units displaced from services in England. They are compatible with ScotRail’s Class 156 units that ply the line between Glasgow Queen Street and Fort William, Oban and Mallaig. In summer, these services are very busy with great demand to carry bikes.
ScotRail spokesman John Beaton stressed to RAIL that the project was in its early stages and that while the illustrations (used in an internal briefing) showed how the Class 153s could look, their design was not finalised.
“We’re some way off the tender process,” he said, adding that there was no firm date for any entry into service.
Previous Scottish transport ministers have called for the bike coaches to be in service next summer. ScotRail’s illustrations also show skis being carried to give the Class 153s a winter role.
HITRANS Partnership Manager Frank Roach welcomed the move - not just for the bike capacity, but because the Class 153s would add extra seats and help relieve overcrowding on Oban services, which currently run as two-car trains to the West Coast port but would be strengthened to three.
Roach suggested that the Class 153s could help ScotRail introduce scenic trains that cater for tourists, by using the extra seats the units would provide. “It kills two birds with one stone,” he told RAIL.
British Rail created 70 Class 153s in the early 1990s by splitting twocar Class 155s (built by Leyland in 1987-88) into independent singlecar units to use on quieter services. Today Northern, Great Western Railway, Transport for Wales, East Midlands Trains, West Midlands Railway and Greater Anglia use them.
ScotRail’s proposed Class 153 bike coaches could have space for 20 bikes and 24 seats. They can also carry winter sports equipment such as skis.