I’m a big fan of locomotive hauled trains and I think this type of traction offers great benefits to passengers.
The alternative to Class 158 trains
Recently someone posted a picture on Twitter of a Class 37 and coaches on the Cardiff – Portsmouth line. It made me think about loco hauling and reminded me of the unsuitability of the Class 158 units currently used on these services. There may be those who think such units are relatively economic to operate but consider the following:
Most of these services frequently run full and standing. This prevents the Conductor from getting down the train to collect fares. The accommodation is not inviting and is probably a deterrent to leaving the car at home particularly for anyone contemplating a longer journey. These factors must mean that, despite the poor road system alternative on a north south axis between major towns and cities on the route, there must be significant latent demand.
Locomotive hauled trains
This latent demand could be satisfied if loco hauling with a driving van trailer (DVT) at the other end was used. The main benefit of this would be superior accommodation. It might even be possible to have first class seats to entice the luxury car user to opt for the stress free train. They could get their laptop out and do some work – a great benefit of train travel.
I will bring up the subject of loco hauling again in a future post. Suffice to say that its about time the Rolling Stock Companies started thinking about building some mixed traffic locomotives. They should also consider refurbishing some stored Mark 2 or Mark 3 vehicles. Such work must include fitting plug doors to operate on routes such the Cardiff – Portsmouth. Construction or refurbishment of Driving Van Trailers (DVTs) also needs to take place. Such vehicles can accommodate luggage and bikes which would relieve the passenger areas.
Lets hope we hear some great news about how the nationals railways are to improve in the months ahead.