Porterbrook and Northern to jointly develop bi-mode Class 319 Flex trains

23 December 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, European Railway Review

Porterbrook Leasing and operator Northern, working alongside the Rail North Partnership, are to jointly develop bi-mode Class 319 Flex trains.

Porterbrook and Northern to jointly develop bi-mode Class 319 Flex trains

Porterbook has revealed it is committed to deliver a variant of a Class 319 electric train which can operate seamlessly over Northern electrified and non-electrified routes. Supported by Rail North, it is hoped the investment will spread the benefits of electrification to more rail users.

Bi-mode Class 319 Flex trains will help spread the benefits of electrification

The Class 319 Flex concept is designed to create a bi-mode train by fitting two diesel powered alternators, one under each of the driving trailer cars. The diesel alternators provide power to the existing traction and auxiliary equipment to allow the EMU to operate without an overhead or 3rd rail supply. The systems will provide power through the train’s DC bus, avoiding any significant changes to the existing equipment and creating a unit capable of operating from a number of different power sources whilst maintaining its full capabilities on electrified routes.

According to Northern, the concept for the Class 319 Flex was developed to minimise alterations to the existing vehicle design, and hence kept the cost of conversion to an attractive level. The design also has provision to cater for a range of operations, either as an alternative to existing DMUs or offering more performance if required through the fitment of additional batteries for non-electrified operations.

David Hoggarth, Rail North Director, said “We are very pleased to work together with rail industry partners to support the development of this innovative rolling stock solution that will contribute to the transformation of rail services currently underway in the north of England, helping to support economic growth.”

The first Bi-mode Class 319 Flex trains will be in Northern passenger service by 2018. The units will then become available to operators who wish to make full use of electrically powered rolling stock on partially electrified routes.

“This technology opens up new opportunities to spread the benefits of electrification to non-electrified routes”

Rob Warnes, Performance & Planning Director for Northern added: “We are really proud to be involved in this pioneering development.  Bi-mode trains will bring the benefits of railway modernisation, to more customers, more quickly.  This technology opens up new opportunities to spread the benefits of electrification to non-electrified routes, delivering more capacity and bringing exciting innovation to the North’s railways”

Zena Dent, Projects & Technical Director for Porterbrook said “The highly innovative Class 319 Flex will be a flexible and highly efficient unit that will provide operators with a ‘go anywhere’ train, something which is not currently available with any other rolling stock solution.”

According to Northern, concept design work is now complete and work has started with Wabtec/Brush on the detailed design phase of the project.

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