The first of five Transport for Wales Class 230s built by Vivarail entered service on the Wrexham-Bidston (Borderlands) line on April 3, almost four years later than originally planned.
The introduction of the first hybrid battery-diesel multiple unit (230010) coincided with the re-start of rail services on the route, following a gap of nearly a month. This had been caused by engineering works and the operator’s temporary withdrawal of its Class 175 fleet.
TfW continues to suffer from a shortage of trains, while the ‘175s’ undergo additional maintenance and safety checks following several fires. The ongoing lack of capacity necessitated the transfer of Class 150s away from the Borderlands line to instead serve on long-distance Wales and Borders routes.
230010 is currently providing a two-hourly service from Wrexham to Bidston, while classmates 230006-009 remain stabled at Birkenhead North depot to undergo further modifications. TfW says it hopes to get at least one more unit into service as soon as possible, to restore the full hourly service.
It was initially hoped that the ‘230s’ would be delivered by early 2019 and enter service that summer, under the assumption that they would be introduced on the Borderlands line, the Conwy Valley line, and Chester-Crewe shuttles.
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