fredag 4 januari 2008

Big train order for Bombardier

These trains, called Electrostars, and the diesel version called Turbostar, were originally designed by Adtranz, the train manufacturer which is now part of Bombardier. They got off to a shaky start in 2000, but after a lot of work by the engineering teams they are well established and reliable. But when the initial orders were complete, the production line at Derby was shut down. Now, there are new orders, for example, from London Overground, and the production line has been reopened, demonstrating the industry's confidence in the design. It is likely that it will comprise a high proportion of new build for in the forseeable future, for example, as replacements for classes 313/507/317 and 455 as these become due for replacement.

The trouble is that the design, never entirely satisfactory, needs a thorough overhaul to get rid of the things that are wrong with it and take advantage of technical developments; for example, because of changes in the way the infrastructure is managed, it might be possible to make the trains wider, which would be more comfortable for the passengers. Other modifications could increase the capacity, improve the bouncy ride and reduce the time the trains stand at station while passengers get on and off.

These changes would cost money in research and development, but with this unexpected prospect of a big production run, they would be a good investment to make at this time.

Sadly, the most likely outcome is that the production line will go on churning out the same thing, warts and all indefinitely. There are many worse trains around but it is a pity that there is no real desire for improvement.

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