SOLUTION TO MML MK 3 ACCESSIBILITY COMPLIANCE MOOTED
TRANSPORT SECRETARY Chris Grayling has admitted a ‘patch and mend’ solution will be needed for the HSTs operated by East Midlands Trains on the Midland main line from 2020. Industry sources report one solution currently under consideration involves Mk 4 coaches displaced from the East Coast main line working between HST power cars (‘Pan Up’, p40).
The conversion would involve fitting an inverter in the guard’s space of the Class 43 power cars to convert the variable voltage/variable frequency auxiliary power supply to the constant voltage required by the Mk 4 coach. Design of the conversion is understood to be well advanced. The Class 91/Mk 4 sets are due to be displaced by new Class 800/801 units on the East Coast from next year.
EMT’s HSTs are not compliant with accessibility regulations, which come into force at the end of 2019. The work required on them to meet these regulations would include modifying the Mk 3 coaches and fitting power doors, which is currently underway for HSTs to be retained by CrossCountry, Great Western Railway and ScotRail. However, no plans have been announced for any modifications to the EMT fleet, nor have any new trains been ordered to replace them.
Mr Grayling was addressing the House of Commons Transport Committee’s inquiry into cancelled electrification schemes. He emphasised to the committee that no passengers would suffer a dis-benefit as a result of the cancellation of electrification north of Kettering and the decision to procure bi-mode trains, and that bidders for the next East Midlands franchise would be instructed to introduce the first bi-mode trains on the MML in late 2021. EMT currently has nine HST sets in 2+8 formation, which are to be joined in passenger service by three further 2+6 sets transferred from Grand Central in time for the timetable change in May.
Speaking to committee chair and Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood, Mr Grayling said: ‘As you know, because it is your own line, we have an issue with the existing trains from 2020. Whatever happens, even with 2021 and 2022, we are going to have to patch and mend for a while. I want to get new trains on your railway line as quickly as we can.’ Industry figures have suggested a derogation for EMT’s current HSTs to continue operating into 2020 may now be unavoidable.