Northern is to retain its 17 three-car Class 323s (323223-323239), as well as receiving 17 of West Midlands Trains’ 26-strong ‘323’ fleet.
The three-car electric multiple units will replace the operator’s four-car Class 319 fleet, which will return to Porterbrook.
The original plans set out in the Northern franchise agreement decreed that the ‘323s’ would be returned to their owner by December 31 2018. That deal was then extended to prevent a capacity shortfall.
They are used in the North West, running from Manchester Piccadilly as far south as Crewe and Stoke, and as far west as Liverpool Lime Street. The trains are maintained at Allerton (Merseyside).
Northern currently has 27 Class 319s (319361-386, 319446). These will return to Porterbrook, which plans to convert them into FLEX Class 769s, although no operator has yet been confirmed for them.
The ‘319s’ were leased until the end of the franchise in 2025, apart from two sets (319372/373) that were on a short-term lease to cover for unavailable Class 769/4s.
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