NORTHERN HAS formally unveiled the first two trains in its new £500 million fleet of CAF DMUs and EMUs.
The operator has ordered 55 Class 195 DMUs and 43 Class 331 EMUs in a fleet totalling 281 vehicles. All feature free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, at-seat power and seat reservation systems. The launch event took place at Alstom’s Edge Hill depot in Liverpool.
According to Northern the intention is to bring the first Class 195 sets into service in December, but introduction will be mainly between January and May next year. The exact programme depends heavily on the completion of infrastructure work by Network Rail. First use is expected to be between Manchester and Cumbria followed by the Cheshire Lines Committee route between Liverpool and Manchester Airport, Manchester to Leeds via the Calder Valley line and on services between Leeds and Sheffield.
Introduction of the Class 331 EMUs is running slightly behind the diesel sets with Northern targeting early 2019 for the first deployment, although it is possible a ‘331’ will carry passengers before the end of 2018. First use is expected to be on services between Blackpool North and Manchester Airport via the Bolton corridor, where electrification is due to be completed during November.
With Northern reporting that staff and stakeholders are very impressed with the new units the company is looking forward to beginning the Pacer withdrawal programme in the New Year. With the company still in dispute with RMT over the role of guards and the transfer of door control to drivers it has confirmed that the new CAF units have door panels and are equipped for guard operation, although they can also be worked with driver control of doors. Initially they will be worked by guards in the same way as all other Northern services, with MD David Brown telling Modern Railways ‘They are able to operate in conventional mode and conductors are being trained to work them ahead of introduction’. Tony Miles