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Pace of building electric and bi-mode trains to slow down in CP6 due to sluggish electrification

The pace of building of electric and bi-mode trains for the UK’s rail network is smaller than expected due to Network Rail’s electrification of the railway being “slower than anticipated”, the Rail Delivery Group’s (RDG’s) fifth Long Term Passenger Rolling Stock Strategy (RSSSG) has revealed.

The report, which forecasts the future direction of rolling stock and track construction, stated that the number of electric and bi-mode fleet totals was estimated to increase by a net figure of between 860 and 1,450 over the course of CP6 – a figure that is smaller than expected because of the slow speed of NR’s electrification programme, in particular the electrification of the Great Western route.

“This compares with a forecast net increase of approximately 2,900 electric and bi-mode vehicles over the course of CP5,” the document explained. “It is not possible to predict how many older electric vehicles will be permanently retired during these control periods, and also how many EMUs which may temporarily be off-lease at the end of 2019 may move back into operational use during CP6.

“Nevertheless, it appears probable on the basis of the assumptions contained in this analysis that the total number of new electric and bi-mode vehicles required to be delivered in CP6 will be less than in CP5.”

It was also revealed that the proportion of electrically-powered vehicles is forecast to rise from 71% to more than 85% by 2034.

When taking into account the number of electric single track miles (STMs) that had been built in the last year compared to previous years, RDG reported that in 2015-16, only 18 STMs of new electrification had been completed, compared to 91 in 2014-15 and 204 in the five years of CP4.

Taking into account growth, future electrification, HS2 and the replacement of most BR-procured vehicles, RDG also predicted that in its modelled scenarios, around 11,000 to 16,000 new electric and bi-mode vehicles would be needed over the next 30 years to keep up with growth, as well as 2,000 new vehicles that can operate beyond the electrified network.

On top of this, it was found that between 2,100 and 3,600 self-powered vehicles would be required in service in 2046, a higher figure than originally expected due to the changes assumed for future electrification.

There were also warnings about the suitability of bi-mode trains in the review, as it stated: “If the extent of ongoing electrification assumed in this updated RSS were to prove to be too optimistic, then less of the uncommitted new vehicles (required both for ongoing growth and to replace the ageing ex-BR fleets) might be pure electric than had previously been thought.

“However, while bi-mode trains offer improved operational flexibility, it should be noted that they currently have lower installed power when operating off the electrified network, additional complexity and higher initial capital and maintenance costs than pure electric trains.

“Hence the great majority of new vehicles now committed for delivery in CP5 and CP6 and forecast in this RSS to be required over the subsequent 20 years will be pure electric vehicles.”

Despite these findings, the report shone a spotlight on how thousands of new trains will be rolling off production lines over the next 30 years, with orders for rolling stock at a “historically high level”. Britain’s overall fleet is also increasing faster than at any time in recent decades.

RSSSG joint chairs Malcolm Brown, CEO of Angel Trains, and Hugh Clancy, commercial director of rail at FirstGroup, argued that modern, comfortable and reliable trains are “key to improving the experience of rail passengers, and this strategy portrays a welcome picture of the private sector and government working together to invest in the nation’s future”.

“With rolling stock orders now at an historically high level, the capability of the industry to build, deliver and bring into service reliable new trains is of critical importance,” they added. “Innovation will mean greener train travel with energy-efficient trains replacing older diesel-powered vehicles on many routes.”

Paul Plummer, RDG’s chief executive, also spoke positively of the report, reiterating that since 2014 more than £10bn has been committed on orders for more than 6,000 new carriages.

“Some of these are already in service, and in the next few years passengers across the country will see the benefit of this tremendous investment,” added Plummer.

“Rail is an ever more vital public service, and rail companies together are delivering billions of pounds of improvements to ease congestion and harness technology to run the extra trains that passengers want and the country needs.”

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Lutz   13/03/2017 at 21:39

I really hate these fads for multiple pages per sheet or other odd arrangements; all designed to distract from the content no doubt.

Andrew Gwilt   13/03/2017 at 23:28

Well new Electric multiple unit and Bi-Mode (EDMU) multiple unit fleets will still be built as the electrification has been slowed to a snails pace because of the current electrification is still taking place including the GWML with the Hitachi Class 800 and Class 801 IEP's currently being built. Aswell the Glasgow-Edinburgh (Shotts Line) electrification is also taking shape with the Hitachi Class 385's T2 "AT200" Commuter EMU rolling stock also currently being built. Plus the Gospel Oak-Barking "GOBLIN" electrification which was due to be completed in February has been extended for completion in June with the Bombardier Class 710 Aventra EMU's to be built for the GOBLIN line.

Simon D   14/03/2017 at 09:32

Nice photo of Ardwick taken from the East end. The weather isn't that nice today!!

Pwt   14/03/2017 at 09:46

Andrew, please do not refer to the class 800s & 801s as "IEPs". They are Inter City Express trains forming part of the Inter City Express Project. The Class 802 AT100 trains should definitely not be referred to as IEPs as they do not form part of the Inter City Express Project.

Andrew Gwilt   14/03/2017 at 10:21

Fair point @Pwt.

Martin T   14/03/2017 at 12:41

I have a feeling that the future may involve a different type of bi-mode: OLE and batteries. This subject is gradually getting more attention but I really think it should be moving centre-stage in this discussion.

Martin T   14/03/2017 at 12:50

I have a feeling that the future may involve a different type of bi-mode: OLE and batteries. This subject is gradually getting more attention but I really think it should be moving centre-stage in this discussion.

Matt Whyndham   14/03/2017 at 13:52

@Lutz: not really a fad or a distraction tactic. Just the way the DTP and the printers have agreed between themselves to lay out their PDF.

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