fredag 13 april 2018

Britain’s new inter city trains

I am planning to discuss the new Hitachi inter-city trains in several pieces on this blog. I put it under the heading of  “vanity schemes” because they were clearly not the best value-for-money replacement for the HST fleet and came about due to the political influence of the civil servants within the Department for Transport who developed the project and then protected it at all costs.

These trains have many good points, in particular the quality of the finish and detailing inside and out, the smooth ride and surprisingly low noise levels when on diesel power. However, they also have many shortcomings, which are due to the specification produced as a result of the work of the DfT.  Hitachi has made the best of a concept that could have been better conceived.

There is a lot of poorly utilised space due to the length of the vehicles.This is noticeable in the uncomfortable seats misaligned with windows, inadequate space for luggage in a location where passengers can keep it supervised, and the need to “mind the gap”, which should not be necessary given that various forms of retractable step have been around on continental railways for about 20 years.

The Great Western 2 x 5-car formations are inefficient in terms of space, cost and staffing requirements. There is an unusually large gap between vehicles, which means the gangways are long and again, space is wasted. Acceleration is sluggish when starting on diesel power.

If the trains had been built as 23 metre, 72 seat loco-powered push-pull sets, close-coupled like mark 3 stock, the passenger experience would have been very much better and the cost very much less. Of course that means the electrification would have had to be completed as planned for the trains to run.

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