Special supplement to e-BLN 1240 BLN Pictorial 5 September 2015
In this issue of BLN Pictorial we return to the UK (mostly) to look at a new development in rolling stock intended for use on branch lines and secondary routes.
There are some other pictures to remind us of some earlier approaches to the same subject! Photos are by Kev Adlam except where noted otherwise.
On 19 August Vivarail invited our Society, with other industry representatives and trade groups, to visit Long Marston for a presentation of their initial
converted LU D78 carriage. This is the first fruit of a project intended to deliver affordable but modern and cheap-to-operate DEMU stock both to replace
Pacers and other ageing hardware and cover the likelihood
of delayed electrification holding up planned DMU cascades.
Left : Starting point for the conversion is redundant LU D78
stock, of which an example is seen here on the District Line
at Barking. The D78 stock was built by Metro-Cammell in
Birmingham and delivered between 1980 and 1983. Not the
youngest of stock, then, but with rust-free aluminium
bodywork and bogies less than 10 years old, they can receive
a life-extending conversion to provide trains at a fraction of
the cost of new-build units.
It's not the intention for BLN Pictorial to provide lengthy
technical details of traction and rolling stock, but for those
interested, there's a good deal of detail to be found at
(Aubrey Morandarte, licensed under the Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence.)
Next page : The first vehicle to be converted, 230001, is
posed in front of the workshops, with a selection of the now withdrawn T69 Midland Metro trams behind (see BLN 1240.1692). The trailer car of 230001 can be
seen in the left hand section of the workshops.
Previous page : Head of Vivarail, Adrian Shooter, and Alice Gillman (Communications) smile for the photographer (well, it was Kev !) as the converted D78
driving motor coach is boarded at the North Gate platform, Long Marston, just before its demonstration runs which the Society attended on 19 August 2015.
Below : Although arguably the most ambitious, this isn't the first attempt to make use of redundant Underground stock. A previous conversion involved 1923-
built Tube stock which was adapted in 1966-67 by Stewarts Lane depot as classes 451 and 452 (later 486 and 485) to enable the withdrawal of the Isle of
Wight's class O2 0-4-4Ts and their ancient, if picturesque, rolling stock. The low profile of Ryde Tunnel prevented the use of full height rolling stock and the
already venerable Tube trains offered an alternative to complete closure. By the mid 1980s these units were suffering badly from corrosion due to the seaside
(and indeed over-sea) location and they were replaced in 1989 by adapted 1938 stock (now class 483), still over 50 years old! Although only a summer weekend
service, the Alderney Railway uses old Tube stock as well, as members found out on 10 May (picture at https://goo.gl/uiaFSy).
Class 485 stock departing Ryde Pier Head in 1979 (Martin Addison, licensed Class 483 stock leaving Ryde Pier Head. The girders in the foreground
under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence.) supported the Pier Tramway, CP 26 January 1969. ('Editor 5807', licensed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence)
Next page : The centre-gangway foam rubber contacts are seen in this view of the rear of 230001 by North Gate platform which also shows that the original
windows are retained, ensuring good natural lighting and that passengers can see, and be seen, throughout the train from any vehicle to aid security. The line
nearest the camera was the 'outer loop', still believed intact but not maintained as running lines.
Previous page : Crash testing was required as part of the development and approval programme. Driving Motor coach 7056 after its starring role as 'crash test
dummy', being propelled at 25 mph into a cab-height water tank to simulate a level crossing incident. The lack of serious damage is notable, with the
windscreens remaining intact. However, the driver's door needed a few attempts to pull it shut after the visitors had been allowed to examine the cab.
Right : Vivarail intend to offer a number of different interior configurations
to suit different services for which the 230s might be selected. Amongst
the various options is a toilet unit of the 'Tardis' variety – the group were
shown a demonstration unit, fully functional except not plumbed in. They
were asked to test only the door mechanism! It was pleasing that, when
the 'Lock' button was selected, a reassuring automatic voice confirmed it
was locked. The enclosed space behind the seats is for folding bikes and
the green area above for charging and securing mobile tablet devices.
As a comparison, the next two photos show an equally radical 'second life'
rebuild project by the Czech national rail operator, České dráhy (ČD). This
interesting country had a plethora of branch lines of what British
enthusiasts would regard as a 'traditional' kind, and despite continuing
closures since the end of the Communist era, many still remain. In the
years 1975-1982 a large fleet of 4 wheel railbuses of class 810 were built
by Vagonka Studénka, then in the centre of Czechoslovakia but now in the
south east of the Czech Republic. Although electric multiple units were
(and are) widely used, non-driving trailers classified as class 910 were
provided for non-electrified lines. Consequently steam age working
methods stayed in place, so that if traffic on a dead end branch required
more than a 53 seat class 810, the railbus would have to be detached at
the terminus and run round its one or two trailers - an odd sight to British
visitors used to DMU working with cabs both ends.
Next page : Unrebuilt 810 616 with its trailer at Kutná Hora město (town)
on 21 May 2004. The bodyshells are fairly similar but the powered units are easily distinguished by the valance surrounding the engine and fuel tank beneath
the centre of the vehicle. (Dave Cromarty)
Previous page :
As the ČD railbuses headed for their fourth decade, more modern and economic replacements were needed, just as in the UK, but rather than new build, ČD
elected to rebuild the 810s as more conventional 2-car (and some 3-car) units, the 2-car units being driving motor plus driving trailer and the 3 car units driving
motor, trailer, and driving motor. In this photo of a 2-car unit the power car is at the rear, propelling the trailer into the suburban station of Praha-Bubny in the
north west of Prague. The provenance of the power car is fairly obvious despite its new cab; the trailer less so as its centre portion has been remodelled to
provide low floor access (though many Czech platforms are at rail level) and improved toilet facilities. Those on the 810 and 910 are of a fairly basic nature!
Although the rebuilt units are a considerable improvement in terms of passenger environment and operating convenience, your sub-ed has had the dubious
pleasure of riding on several of these units and has to admit he'd rather ČD had followed the example of several neighbouring railways and gone for one of the
Siemens or Bombardier products so prevalent in present day Europe.
(Honza Groh, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.)
Vivarail are, obviously, keeping the identities of potential customers to themselves for the time being. However speculation has been rife among railway
industry watchers of all sorts – further, bidders for the present Northern Rail franchise have had it made clear to them that the Pacers must go. Vivarail are also
thought to have set their sights on the various ageing class 150 fleets, notably that of Arriva Trains Wales. The Pacers themselves are of course a derivative
rather than a rebuild, in their case using many parts from Leyland National buses. Originally an experiment to assess the viability and economics of using
Leyland bus components, the 1980 prototype was the result of a joint project by the British Rail Research Division and Leyland Motors. It used a bus body
mounted on a modified freight vehicle underframe, and its appearance (and quite possibly its ride!) was surprisingly similar to the Czech class 814 which wasn't
to see the light of day for another 25 years. Unfortunately copyright considerations prevent us showing an image here, but there are many on the Web, for
example Phil Shaw's at the Conwy Valley Line website : http://goo.gl/lxaHSn. The design was further refined (or so the fans of class 142 will doubtless claim),
through a number of experimental/demonstration versions, with exports as well as UK use in mind.
The last but one experimental vehicle, RB004, was another joint effort between Leyland who built the body at Workington, and BREL who provided underframe
and final assembly at Derby. This railbus ended up in preservation at Whitrope on the former Waverley route, where it is maintained in operational condition.
Next page :
On 10 July 2015 RB004 (built 1984) stands, with the Branch Line Society headboard tucked in behind the handrail, just north of Whitrope Summit on the Border
Union Railway. While BREL and Leyland made every effort to get their vehicles accepted in non-BR locations, the Circle Line does seem an unlikely candidate!
On this occasion the 22 tonne, 32 seat vehicle conveyed a party more numerous than any previous one at Whitrope, leading to some interesting wheelspin
effects on a wet rail as it made the climb to the summit. Whitrope tunnel mouth is behind the photographer, note the 'rare track' on the left which will one day
be part of the run round loop. (Simon Mortimer)
Left : The first 'pre-production' set of the Pacer family for regular BR use was
designated class 140. The photograph shows the prototype 140 at (if your sub-ed's
impression is correct) Shrewsbury. (Phil Coxon, public domain via Wikimedia).
Right : The production version of this two-car unit, which replaced the flat front
with a rather better looking angled three section windscreen similar to that of
RB004, was class 141 (20 units, lasting in UK main line service until 1997). Many
of these ended up in Iran but a few are in preservation. This example is pictured
in the green and white West Yorkshire PTE livery in one of the north end bays at
Huddersfield. (Phil Richards, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-
Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence.)
Next page :
The final evolution, and the most numerous of the BR/Leyland co-operation, were class 142, still soldiering on in the north-west and elsewhere. Although they
regularly serve some of Britain's biggest and busiest stations, our photo of 142017 at Bishop Auckland is perhaps more representative of their intended use.
(Phil Richards, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence.)