GWR confirms order for Class 769 ‘tri-mode’ conversions

Former dual-mode Class 319 EMUs fitted with diesel engines to enter service in 2019.

By David Russell

GREAT Western Railway has become the third train operating company to take on a fleet of Class 769 units, the former Class 319 EMUs fitted with diesel engines to enable them to operate over non-electrified lines.

Unlike the planned Northern and Arriva Trains Wales sets, which will operate in 25 kV AC overhead mode as well as under diesel power, the GWR units will also run on 750V DC third-rail lines, making them the first ‘tri-mode’ sets.

How the Class 769 ‘tri-mode’ conversions will look in GWR livery. Porterbrook

The ‘769s’ will release further Class 165/166 ‘Turbo’ DMUs for transfer to St Philip’s Marsh to provide additional capacity for services in the Bristol area. Prior to their move west, it is likely that some of the released ‘Turbos’ will return to Thames Valley services for a short period in advance of the introduction of the full Crossrail service in December 2019. This will enable 12 ‘Electrostars’ (Nos. 387130-141) to be removed from service and prepared for Heathrow Express duties.

Although GWR says: “Final details of exactly how and where the new fleet will be used are currently being drawn up, and expected to be finalised later this year”, it is expected that the units will be used on the North Downs line between Reading and Gatwick Airport, their third-rail capability being put into use on the three sections of this route (Reading-Wokingham, Ash to Guildford and Redhill to Gatwick).

Read more in the June issue of RE – on sale May 18!

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