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Train failures and crew shortages hit Borders operation

ScotRail 158741 heads out from Bowshank Tunnel on August 10, with the 0753 Edinburgh Waverley-Tweedbank.  PHIL METCALFE.

Reliability problems with ScotRail Class 158s and shortages of traincrew have combined to hit performance on the Edinburgh-Tweedbank Borders Railway.

According to analysis seen by RAIL, at least one train has been cancelled on 74 of the 143 days between March 31 and August 20.

Rail campaigner Bill Jamieson has monitored daily performance on the route since October 2015. His analysis suggests that among the principal reasons for cancellations, crew shortages (sometimes combined with other issues) have caused severe disruption on 14 days, Class 158 reliability issues on 18 days, and signalling failures on nine days.

ScotRail Operations Director Perry Ramsey says the company has identified a fleet-wide issue with the Class 158s that affects them particularly badly during hot weather.

Under heavy load, such as accelerating on steep gradients, the engines can overheat and shut down, leading to disruption. 

  • For more on this story, read RAIL 808, published on August 31.

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  • Andrewjgwilt1989 - 30/08/2016 22:02

    I think that Class 170's could be ideal or other DMU's such as Class 185's can manage to accelerate on steep gradients plus Class 185's have got better diesel engines because its got twin engines on each carriage as its a 3-car DMU and its so reliable as the Class 185's are soon to be replaced by the new Class 195's and Class 331's which could mean that some Class 185's could be used on the Border line.

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    • BigTone - 31/08/2016 01:03

      My own opinion is to get that line wired, the signalling problems should eventually work out (teething troubles?). That should leave the manning situation to sort out. To me it seems odd that Class 170's went to Southern instead of filling in the 3rd rail gaps and sending their diesels to where there are shortages.

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    • BigTone - 31/08/2016 10:59

      I understand what you mean about the Class 185, Andrew. The power of Voyagers/Meridians but geared for 100 mph (and meant for hilly country)

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      • Andrewjgwilt1989 - 31/08/2016 11:18

        The Voyagers and Meridians are brilliant trains and are designed to accelerate whilst climbing on steep hills. The Class 170's that Scotrail still used have got more power to climb up hills whilst travelling at about 50-60mph.

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  • FrankH - 10/09/2016 00:12

    "ScotRail Operations Director Perry Ramsey says the company has identified a fleet-wide issue with the Class 158s that affects them particularly badly during hot weather. Under heavy load, such as accelerating on steep gradients, the engines can overheat and shut down, leading to disruption. " So apart from 18 hot days the 158's are ok, on a route they are not ideal for, are 90 mph dmu's needed on that route. Wouldn't 75 mph class 156 dmu's be a better choice.

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  • Chris - 06/10/2016 12:55

    These are the same 158s that have been performing on a variety of hilly routes, through all types of weather, since 1992? Unless a specific modification to the Scottish units is causing a problem I would imagine any issues would already have presented themselves in the 24-odd years in traffic...

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