Gloom but not doom

IT has not been a great start to the year so far. Fares have gone up, passenger growth figures have stalled, the prospect of further electrification is on hold, and strikes have again affected services.

The much anticipated Class 31 charter to the Mid-Norfolk Railway was cancelled, the DTG’s ‘Western’ No. D1015 can no longer work the anniversary tour in February and then, just when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, Vivarail’s innovative Class 230 DMU conversion burst into flames while out on main line tests.

But, on the plus side, we also report on the first UK-built IEP rolling off the assembly line at Hitachi’s plant in County Durham, where production is rapidly ramping up to meet the full order book. Then days later Siemens opened its new depot in Hornsey, North London, to service the Class 700 fleet, and Merseyrail announced it had ordered replacements for its ageing EMU fleet. Porterbrook is developing a bi-mode Class 319 to help with gaps in the electrified network, and even Vivarail remains confident it will be back on track soon.

So much for a quiet news month over Christmas!

A big thank you to DRS

I must extend a personal thank you, and on behalf of everyone involved with this magazine, to the management and staff at Direct Rail Services for reusing the Rail Express nameplates formerly carried by No. 47853. The ‘47’ was named by Virgin Trains back in 2002, it later passing into DRS ownership until deemed surplus last year and sold, without the plates, to Harry Needle.

Now the name has been applied to
No. 57002 instead during its recent overhaul at Loram in Derby. It is a fantastic gesture, much appreciated, and we look forward to seeing Rail Express out and about on the main line network soon.

Paul Bickerdyke, Editor

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