Moving Wheels

GREAT WESTERN Railway has shortened four of its ‘Castle’ 2+4 HSTs to 2+3 formation as it awaits delivery of additional Mk 3 vehicles modified with sliding doors by Wabtec at Doncaster.

The move releases additional DMUs which, together with the cascade west of Turbo DMUs, enabled GWR to withdraw its eight Class 143 Pacer DMUs from services in the Exeter area at the December timetable change.

GWR told Modern Railways the change of formations involved using existing power cars and dividing Mk 3 rakes to create four 2+3 sets from the December timetable change. This number is planned to reduce to two shorter sets in mid-January once additional trailers have arrived.

Initially the operator had 11 2+4 HSTs, but it was confirmed last summer that three further sets would join the fleet, taking the total to 14. The full fleet comprises 35 power cars and 63 Mk 3 vehicles. The ‘Castle’ HSTs primarily work on the Cornish main line and on Cardiff to Taunton services.

During 2020 GWR had only used the ‘143s’ coupled to Class 150 DMUs compliant with Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM) regulations, the ‘143s’ operating under a PRM dispensation. In addition to the extra HSTs, GWR introduced a Class 166 DMU on the Barnstaple line in September and from December has drafted in additional Turbo DMUs on Exmouth to Paignton services to help replace the ‘143s’.

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