Regional Railways - Regional Railways Development of New Rolling Stock - B

Regional Railways - B

Regional Railways Development of New Rolling Stock

In the early 1980s, large numbers of diesel multiple unit (DMU) and locomotive-hauled coaches were found to contain asbestos. Removing this would be a considerable cost and generating no extra revenue, which, coupled with the increasingly unreliable old locomotives and DMUs, prompted BR to look for a new generation of diesel multiple units.

The prototype Class 210s, in service on a trial basis since 1981, were considered too expensive to be put into production, so BR looked elsewhere for new designs.

Regional Railways Pacers

The first, Pacers, used bus technology from the Leyland National, in classes numbered in the 14X range. Not long after introduction to service, large numbers of them suffered from a number of technical problems, particularly with their gearboxes. In Cornwall it was found that their long wheelbase caused intolerable squealing noises and high tyre wear on tight curves, and they quickly had to be replaced by the old DMUs. The solution lay elsewhere, although, after much modification, the Pacers eventually proved themselves in traffic.

Regional Railways Sprinters

BR needed something midway between the Pacers and the Class 210s. In 1984/1985, two experimental DMU designs were put into service: the British Rail Engineering Limited built Class 150 and Metro-Cammell built Class 151. Both of these used hydraulic transmission and were less bus-like than the Pacers. After trials, Class 150 was selected for production, entering service from 1987. Reliability was much improved by the new units, with depot visits being reduced from two or three times a week to fortnightly.

The late 1980s and early 1990s also saw the development of secondary express services that complemented the mainline Intercity routes. Class 155 and Class 156 Sprinters were developed to replace locomotive-hauled trains on these services, their interiors being designed with longer distance journeys in mind. Key Scottish and Trans-Pennine routes were upgraded with new Class 158 Express Sprinters, while a network of 'Alphaline' services was introduced elsewhere in the country.

By the end of the 1980s, passenger numbers had increased and costs had been reduced to two-and-a-half times revenue.

Regional Railways Electrification

The British Rail Class 323 electric multiple units were built by Hunslet Transportation Projects and Holec Ridderkerk between 1992 and 1995, although mock-ups and prototypes were built and tested in 1990 and 1991. Forty-three 3-car units were built for inner-suburban services in and around Birmingham and Manchester, including the Cross-City Line in the Birmingham area and services to the new Manchester Airport railway station.

Regional Railways Overview

Regional Railways Main Region(s): East Anglia, North West, North East, Wales, South West England
Regional Railways Other Region(s): East Midlands, West Midlands, Scotland, Merseyside
Regional Railways Parent Company: British Rail
Regional Railways Dates of Operation: 1982–1997
Regional Railways Successors: Central Trains, First North Western, Midland Mainline, Arriva Trains Merseyside, Wales & West, Valley Lines


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