Transport for Wales has modified its plans to provide First Class accommodation on 14 of its 77 Class 197 DMUs, opting for an intermediate category of seating instead. The operator will also enhance its catering offer on the new units, including introduction of at-seat ordering. TfW held the Class 197 launch ceremony in Llandudno on 26 January, unveiling the name Happy Valley on No 197007 (see also ‘Blood and Custard’).
After a delay of about a year, the class made its passenger debut on the Conwy Valley line in November. Various two-car Class 197s have operated services based out of Chester depot, with up to three in use at a time. TfW expects to add another unit to service at approximately weekly frequency through the late winter and early spring.
TfW had not accepted any of the three-car Class 197s by late January, but Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, TfW’s Chief Operations Officer, told Modern Railways: ‘For our timetable in May we need an assortment of two-car and three-car units.’