A new fleet of diesel trains has been launched in the West Midlands.

The first of 26 new Class 196 diesel multiple units (DMUs) have entered service on the Shrewsbury Line, serving Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Telford. Next year, they will also be used on the Worcester and Hereford lines.

In all, 80 carriages have been built by manufacturer CAF at its factories in South Wales and Spain. It’s the first new fleet of trains to be introduced in the region in more than a decade. 

The launch took place at a special event at Wolverhampton station, following a five-year procurement process that also featured the creation of the West Midlands Railway brand. 

Meanwhile, a second new fleet, the Class 730 ‘Aventra’ electric multiple unitshttps://www.railmagazine.com/Admin/ArticleAdmin (EMUs), was originally due to carry passengers from May that year. These are now due to enter service early next year.

West Midlands Trains Managing Director Ian McConnell said: “It’s been a long time in coming - I think everyone knows that. There have been a lot of challenges, with COVID being the most significant one, certainly for the train manufacturer. It’s just great that we got through it.”

The new trains offer around 15% more seats (and 25% more capacity overall) than the existing fleet of Class 170s which they are replacing. A four-carriage train will have 311 seats, compared with the Class 170s which have 122 over two carriages and a total of 244 when two trains are coupled together.

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  • Arthur Ruminant - 27/10/2022 11:44

    If the West Midlands had an Ultra Low Emissions Zone, then it would be necessary that these trains would be bi-mode. I hope these are the last new diesels to be launched in the UK.

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  • Güntürk Üstün - 31/10/2022 22:51

    The 5 year old West Midlands Trains (WMT) is in the busy process of replacing its fleet of 23 Class 170/5 and 170/6 Turbostar and 8 Class 153 units, which operate on West Midlands Railway services, with new Class 196 Civity units (12 new two-car units and 14 new four-car units). They are the first train of the Civity family to feature end gangways. The Class 153 units left West Midlands Trains at the end of 2020, and the Class 170 units will move to East Midlands Railway, with the exception of the centre cars of the 170/6s which moved to CrossCountry to lengthen its 170/5s. Dr. Güntürk Üstün

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  • Güntürk Üstün - 31/10/2022 22:59

    81 electric multiple units based on Bombardier Transportation/Alstom's Aventra platform (Class 730 Aventra) are to be purchased by WMT. The sets in question will be built at Derby Litchurch Lane Works. 36 three car trains and 45 five car trains will be manufactured. Dr. Güntürk Üstün

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