Northern and Porterbrook to convert electric trains to bi-mode

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Leasing company Porterbrook is developing a bi-mode variant of Northern’s Class 319 EMU.

Porterbrook said with the concept design now complete, Wabtec/Brush will begin a more detailed design phase, with a view to completing the first units by spring 2018.

The Class 319 Flex will have a diesel-powered alternator under each of the two driving trailer cars which will power traction and other ancillary systems.

Eight of Northern’s 32 four-car Class 319 fleet will undergo the conversion.

Porterbrook said the design requires minimal modifications to the train. Additional batteries could also be fitted to improve performance on non-electrified sections.

Zena Dent, projects and technical director for Porterbrook, said: “The highly innovative Class 319 Flex will be a flexible and highly efficient unit that will provide operators with a ‘go anywhere’ train, something which is not currently available with any other rolling stock solution.”

The project has been supported by transport authority Rail North.

David Hoggarth, Rail North director, said: “We are very pleased to work together with rail industry partners to support the development of this innovative rolling stock solution that will contribute to the transformation of rail services currently underway in the north of England, helping to support economic growth.”

Northern has said the Class 319 units will remain a part of its fleet following the introduction of the 43 new EMUs and 55 new DMUs procured from CAF as part of the new Northern franchise.

Rob Warnes, performance and planning director for Northern, added: “We are really proud to be involved in this pioneering development.

“Bi-mode trains will bring the benefits of railway modernisation, to more customers, more quickly. This technology opens up new opportunities to spread the benefits of electrification to non-electrified routes, delivering more capacity and bringing exciting innovation to the North’s railways.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. The 18 Class 319’s that are to have diesel engines fitted will work not only on electrified routes but also non-electrified routes including Manchester Piccadilly-Leeds-York/Hull Transpennine routes and rural lines in Northern England, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

    • As per the report, only 8 Class 319s are due to be converted to bi-mode (perhaps others will follow). I would suggest they are likely to be used on extensions of the Liverpool – Manchester Victoria service to Rochdale or, until Trans Pennine electrification is complete, to Stalybridge. Other possible services for bi-modes on non-electrified lines could be Preston to Blackpool South, Hazel Grove to Buxton and Bolton to Wigan. No doubt Northern will reveal their plans in due course.

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