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Likely removal of North West ‘323s’ angers user group

Seventeen three-car Class 323 electric multiple units that currently operate on Northern Rail services are likely to move to the Midlands when their lease expires in 2018/2019, their owner Porterbrook has told RAIL.

However, the rolling stock leasing company says that overall, the new Northern franchise that is due to begin next year will enjoy an increase in the number of EMU vehicles.

TravelWatch NorthWest criticised the decision, calling it “crazy and scandalous”. Chairman Chris Dale said: “This is another kick in the teeth for passengers of the undervalued local rail services in the North West. To add insult to injury, there appear to be no obvious replacement trains as suitable as the ‘323s’.

“TransPennine is also having to see trains taken elsewhere with no suitable replacement. It all adds up to a shambolic way of managing the railway’s vital rolling stock resources.”

Dale called for “a proper strategy for rail rolling stock, but the current hand to mouth system precludes it”.

Porterbrook Commercial Director Olivier Andre told RAIL on August 25: “All the bidders for the Northern franchise have access to the Class 323 until 2018/2019.

  • For more on this story, read RAIL 782, published on September 2. 

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  • D. O'Connell - 25/08/2015 20:02

    Clearly another example of a hand to mouth 'planning'! Just as they go we can use the D78's instead! Northern powerhouse is running out of steam. Oh there's a thought ; bring back steam!!

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  • Rob Weller - 25/08/2015 20:41

    There seems to be some sense in putting all Class 323s into the Midlands for standardization of spares and servicing. That allows a far greater number of 319s to go north for a standard fleet there. Neither fleet is particularly modern.

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  • Chris - 25/08/2015 21:06

    TravelWatch NW seem to be allowing their personal emotions to creep over into public communications without giving credit to what appears to be a logical fleet re-organisation. Northern Rail already have 5 different classes of 3 and 4 car EMUs on their books, all carrying out very similar short distance urban or inter-urban duties. Each of these classes will require a different maintenance regime with differing spare parts etc. and not all are operationally compatible with each other. No doubt the engineering and operations teams at Northern would rather have one homogeneous fleet of EMUs, with the efficiencies of scale and flexibility that that would bring (think Ryanair with it's huge fleet made up almost entirely of Boeing 737-800 aircraft (and one 737-700!), or easyJet with it's wholly Airbus fleet made up of only two types). No doubt what will happen here will be a transfer of the 323s to the West Midlands to join their sister units, allowing greater maintenance and operational flexibility there ,with a transfer into the Northern fleet of either further class 319 or 321 units - which are broadly the same age (think 1990/1, as opposed to 1993 - so marginal as to be irrelevant). These 319 or 321 units will allow operational compatibility with the 319/3 units now deployed on Liverpool - Manchester / Wigan services, will have 4 coaches, rather than 3 (albeit slightly shorter coaches, but still a net gain of circa 11 metres unit length) and eight pairs of doors per side, as opposed to six, speeding boarding and alighting at busy times.

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  • Stuart - 25/08/2015 21:44

    No other trains with required acceleration available for Manchester suburban routes so understandable that TravelWatch NorthWest Chairman is angry, and in this case, it is not because Northern franchise cannot offer long lease contract. DfT could specify that Midlands franchise cannot take more Class 323 and force Porterbrook to offer the trains to Northern

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  • Colin Brown - 26/08/2015 03:45

    joke!

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  • Andrewjgwilt1989 - 26/08/2015 11:22

    I think Thameslink should cascade the remainder of Class 319's to Northern Rail as the Thameslink's Class 700's are to be in service next year with most of the Class 319's cascaded to Northern Rail and some are with GWR Thames Valley services.

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    • J Marsden - 26/08/2015 12:51

      Lets have some truths here. The 323 are going to London Midland so that they can use them in the Birmingham area so releasing the 350's in Birmingham to be transferred to London area trains . How soon before Transpennine 350 are forced to move to London area. Better still let Thameslink have ALL the 319 and transfer the 700 to Northern/TransPennine. Why should the South East have all the new stock

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  • bob dearden - 31/08/2015 21:31

    northern should never have had the 323s.when the cross-city line in the west mids was developed. The cross-city was having 43 323s British rail diverted 17 to northern

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