LNER will retain Class 91s and Mk 4s to enable it to meet December 2021 timetable requirements.
This represents a marked change from the initial plan, which was for all the ‘91s’ and Mk 4s to be withdrawn by the end of June.
That plan had involved retaining a small number of ‘91’/Mk 4 rakes with the East Coast franchise, with shorter sets running on London King’s Cross-Edinburgh services. But it was discounted as LNER was uncertain about having to resurrect the vehicles from store.
The operator is also in the market for new trains (RAIL 885), claiming it needs six new sets.
An LNER spokesman told RAIL: “We are currently working on the complex task of planning for the December 2021 timetable change, which will allow us to use the new Azuma fleet to its full potential with more frequent services, reduced journey times and greater capacity.
“We are running a procurement for additional trains to run the enhanced 2021 timetable. Therefore, to allow for the timescales of procurement and to give us additional resilience in our fleet, we will be retaining a number of our IC225 electric trains. This will allow us to deliver significant benefits for customers, while enabling the release of Azumas for modification programmes such as the previously announced additional luggage racks.”
No details have been released regarding how many ‘91s’ and Mk 4s would be retained, for how long, or their identities.
Meanwhile, LNER removed more Class 91s from traffic at the end of January, with 91102/122/128/132 all withdrawn, meaning that eight of the 31-strong fleet have now been taken out of traffic. They follow 91103/108/117/120, which were taken out of use last year.
- For the FULL story, read RAIL 898, published on February 12, and available digitally from February 8.