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.
Read my post about an exclusive tour of Eastleigh Works here.
Ian Fisher says
A very timely article – Part of the order for new trains for Trans Pennine is for 5 coach locomotive powered trains, using DRS class 68s and new Mk 5 coaches being built by CAF. It will be interesting to compare these with the new EMUs and bi-modes being build for the same operator, and with the locomotive hauled trains which ran before the current Class 185s were introduced
This is excellent news indeed, thank you very much for this.
5 hauled coaches is the minimum to tip the balance economically away from a 5 vehicle powered DMU set towards loco hauling.
The other factor is that travelling, particularly over long distances, in rail vehicles with under floor engines can be much more tiring than in a non powered carriage.
Ian Fisher says
It’s also interesting that the Trans Pennine orders for both it’s EMUs and bi-modes are for 5 coach sets – quite an increase in capacity compared with the predominantly 3 coach fleet they currently operate.
Northerner gone Westcountry says
It’d be nice to see something done with the class 158’s that run on the Cardiff to Portsmouth route. On Saturdays if one is departing Bristol TM for whatever Wiltshire town takes your fancy (Westbury is nice) and there is no chance of getting a seat until Warminster or Salisbury at the earliest – as its that busy.
Since the 43’s may end up making their way to Northern, maybe GWR could retain some to run some5/6/7 car loco hauled services on the Cardiff – Portsmouth line, these would be an improvement to the 158’s which can be deployed elsewhere e.g. replacing the awful class 150’s.
Alastair Majury says
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and thoughts on that topic. Regards, Alastair