West Midlands launches CAF '196s'

West Midlands Trains was due to introduce its new CAF Class 196 DMUs on the Birmingham to Shrewsbury route on 17 October.

The operator has 12x2-car and 14x4-car ‘196s’ on order from CAF. As of mid-October, WMT had accepted all the two-car ‘196s’ and 10 of the four-car units.

The plan is that Shrewsbury services will gradually transition to ‘196’ operation by the end of the year, allowing the Class 170 DMUs currently used to transfer to East Midlands Railway. After the Shrewsbury route, ‘196s’ will be used on the Birmingham to Hereford route and the new local service on the Camp Hill line in south Birmingham and the Leamington to Nuneaton service via Coventry. 6x2-car units will also be transferred to operate East West Rail Services between Oxford and Milton Keynes, due to start in late 2024 or early 2025.

WMT has also ordered Class 730 Aventra EMUs from Alstom. This order has changed from the original plan for 36x3-car and 45x5-car units, and now comprises 48x3-car and 36x5-car units. Three-car units will enter service first, initially on services out of Euston, before they are introduced in the West Midlands area from late 2023.