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Wheel damage puts AGA DMUs out of action

AGA 156419 at Norwich on June 6. RICHARD CLINNICK.

As this issue of RAIL went to press, trains had not run between Marks Tey and Sudbury for a week because of a shortage of available Abellio Greater Anglia diesel multiple units.

Trains have also been cancelled for a similar period on the Felixstowe branch. Buses have replaced trains on both routes.

“The problems are due to some of our diesel trains suffering wheel damage as a result of poor rail conditions,” said AGA spokesman Lucy Wright.

“This situation leads to excessive wear on the wheels, which must be repaired before the trains can re-enter service. On average we are currently seeing two trains arrive back at the end of each day with wheel damage, more than double the rate we have experienced in previous autumn periods.”

DMUs usually have their tyres turned at Ilford, but because of capacity constraints they have also been visiting Derby Etches Park.

On November 11, of the 26 DMUs 11 were out of traffic. Various routes in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire had trains cancelled. 

Routes in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire had trains cancelled. 

AGA has been forced to hire DMUs from East Midlands Trains, while its hired rake of Mk 2s and Class 37s from Direct Rail Services has been pressed into more work than booked, to cover for unavailable DMUs. 

Wright said: “We are doing everything possible to repair the trains affected as fast as we can, including sending trains to other locations with spare capacity for wheel repairs - to speed up the process of returning trains back into service - and seeking to hire additional trains temporarily, although other train operators are suffering similar problems, so we have not yet succeeded.

“We are working with Network Rail to try and improve rail conditions, to prevent further damage. We hope that the situation should improve and that we will be able to eliminate these cancellations and restore the normal service. In the meantime, we are seeking to minimise the impact of the disruption by providing bus replacement services wherever practical to cover for the cancelled train services.”

AGA’s DMU fleet contains five single-car Class 153s, nine two-car Class 156s, four two-car Class 170/2s and eight three-car Class 170/2s. 

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  • Jez - 19/11/2015 08:37

    The drivers need to explain what they are doing. Or is it Network Fail, again?

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  • Andrew Gwilt - 20/11/2015 09:26

    It will be better off to use the Class 230 D-Train DEMU for the Marks Tey-Sudbury line once they are in public use after being converted because some of the Class 230 D-Trains could be used on the Norwich-Sheringham & Cromer line and Ipswich-Felixstowe line in East Anglia as well the Marks Tey-Sudbury line and the rest of the Class 230's to be used in the North of England and Southwest England to replace the Class 142, Class 143 and Class 144 Pacer DMU trains.

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  • Nigel Welbourn - 20/11/2015 15:43

    There are always leaves in autumn! It seems to me this might all be about saving money. If there were real cost penalties for running alternative buses in circumstances such as this I am sure contingency arrangements for enough trains would be provided.

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  • Chris - 21/11/2015 09:07

    What has happened to the temporary 'winter' wheel lathe that was featured in RAIL back in 2012 as a feature of Norwich Crown Point's depot for six months each year? AGA really are bottom of the pile when it comes to delivery for customers, my recent experiences have been of trolley service in Standard (but not First!) on a London - Norwich express, a 'de-furbishment' in First Class that has removed the seat recline facility on their MkIIIs and now a dismal inability to plan maintenance resources around the normal winter poor railhead conditions...

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  • John - 24/11/2015 09:51

    There is a far bigger story here than meets the eye. Although other areas have suffered some of these problems none has been anywhere near as bad as AGA with whole routes closing for weeks. And still the chaos continues. Rail there is a bigger story here for you to investigate. AGA is riddled with management structural defects.

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    • David - 27/11/2015 19:49

      I agree. RAIL could do more about East Anglia and perhaps less about their conferences and soundbytes. Also I agree Pacers could be better than 153s.

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  • John - 24/11/2015 09:54

    And refurbished Pacers would be fine for East Anglian branch lines. Mostly level straight track with no high speeds or sharp curves. Let more deserving areas have their 153s and 156s

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