MarkAshley wrote:The emboldened bits here are where I would like to raise a further issue. Just how much longer is diesel electric going to be a viable medium on British railways? I live in a predominantly "third rail" EMU area, but I note from the past few decades that most of the services heading towards the West (now in the GWR franchise) are 2-rail diesel only services. And my holiday a fortnight ago in North Wales saw nothing but diesel trains.
I would say a very long time, since as far as I am aware there are no plans to electrify the entire network (and even if they did, there are still multiple standards in use - eg whilst new electrification is generally 25KV overhead I'm not aware of any plans to change the DC third rail system in use where you live).
Whilst fossil fuel powered traction (and diesel in particular) is extremely unfashionable at the moment, I think it is acknowledged that when it comes to heavy vehicles like trains there isn't really anything suitable to replace diesel (apart from electrification - which also begs the question of where the electric comes from - in most cases from power stations that are oil or gas fired so fossil fuels are being used anyway) nor is there likely to be for decades, which will continue to see demand for diesel powered stock.
New DMU's are being built right now - the class 195's to replace Northern's pacers.
MarkAshley wrote:The Intercity 125 series that litters the network is a diesel electric set from the 1970s.
However, the body shell itself is basically the only original part left in most HST's. Everything else from the engine to the seats is barely a decade old in the bulk of them. These trains may have been around since the 70's but due to the investment that has gone into them they still provide a very high quality and perfectly modern rail experience (manual doors aside - but even they are going to be replaced with electric ones for DDA compliance). There is nothing wrong with them and no need to retire them.
At least though the HSTs being retired from GWR service are being cascaded to other operators (or going off lease but being stored presumably to be leased again), but SWR are about withdraw all their 455s and due to them being specialised third rail commuter units it is unlikely anyone else will take them. Most if not all of them are almost certain to be scrapped. Yes they are 35 year old trains but they had new traction equipment fitted just 3 years ago (at a cost of £40 Million) and they are well suited for the commuter services they run - with a cosmetic refurb (and maybe a toilet, maybe even aircon) they are quite fit to go on for another 20 years.
It's an absolute waste to spend hundreds of millions on new trains where the existing ones have nothing wrong with them.