Orion targets April for parcels service

Rail Freight

ORION HIGH Speed Logistics is aiming to launch its first trial service conveying parcels and light freight in April, with the Midlands to Mossend now likely to be the debut flow.

Orion is a subsidiary of Rail Operations (UK) Ltd. The company is to use converted Class 319s for the service and is now planning for a fleet of 19 four-car units – nine ‘319s’ and 10 Class 769s, the bi-mode electric/ diesel units which have undergone Porterbrook’s Flex conversion at Brush Traction. Arlington Fleet Services at Eastleigh is modifying the interiors of the units to accommodate roller cages for parcels, with the aim of operating primarily under electric power but with the Class 769s using their diesel engines to act as tractor units for the ‘319s’ on non-electrified stretches.

The Midlands to Mossend service is likely to comprise a daily working and is set to overtake the London Gateway to Liverpool Street flow which Orion had previously pencilled in for its debut operation, while gauging issues are resolved with the latter.

Orion unveiled its first modified ‘319’, No 319373, at Eastleigh in August last year, and from 18 to 20 January showcased the unit to potential partners and customers at Maritime Transport’s Birmingham Intermodal Freight Terminal at Birch Coppice. The first ‘769’ bi-mode, No 769501, has undergone its Flex conversion at Brush in Loughborough and is due to be outshopped from Arlington at Eastleigh in March following its interior modification. It will then undergo testing prior to the launch of the new service. In addition to the Flex conversions for the ‘769s’, the ‘319s’ retained as straight EMUs have required modification to work in multiple with the bi-mode units.

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