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As lockdown restrictions ease and we start to consider travelling again, the future of cross-Channel operator Eurostar remains uncertain.
Eurostar is seeking financial support from the UK Government, citing higher access charges here as a reason.
The French Government has pledged to provide support for the operator, while £200 million has been provided by one of its shareholders, Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Hermes Infrastructure.
Registered in the UK and supporting 3,000 jobs either with the business or in the supply chain, the company is, however, 55% owned by SNCF (French state rail), 40% by CDPQ/Hermes and 5% by SNCB (Belgian state railways).
So: Should the UK Government provide financial assistance to Eurostar?

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Nineteen tri-mode Flex Class 769s for GWR

Nineteen tri-mode Class 769 Flex units will enter traffic with Great Western Railway from Spring 2019.

They will be able to operate using third-rail, overhead wires or diesel engines, and will be used initially to support GWR’s introduction of refurbished Class 387/1s on Heathrow Express.

They will feature free WiFi and power at every seat. The trains will be fitted with air-cooling, extra luggage space and new seat covers.

GWR said in a statement: “Initially, the fleet will support the introduction of refreshed trains on Heathrow Express services, but will be predominantly be used on routes between Reading and Gatwick, and Reading and Oxford, where the train’s tri-mode can be used to its fullest. However, the tri-mode nature of the train will give GWR maximum flexibility to use them in other areas of the network should they be required. 

“Final details of exactly how and where the new fleet will be used are currently being drawn up, and expected to be finalised later this year.”

GWR Managing Director, Mark Hopwood said: “We are already delivering the biggest fleet upgrade in a generation across the Great Western network, but today’s news shows we have not stopped looking at ways to improve our service for customers by adding extra capacity to our network.”

Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook, said: “These trains will offer GWR greater operational flexibility with reduced operating costs; at the same time their conversion and upgrade will see skilled engineering jobs secured in the UK supply chain.”

The four-car trains will be converted from redundant Class 319 electric multiple units. This releases a similar number of Class 165/’166’ Turbos for use in the Bristol area.

  • The FULL story will appear in RAIL 852, published on May 9, and available digitally from May 5 on Android/iPad.
  • To read about the initial Flex concept, read RAIL 818, available digitally. 



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  • AndrewJGwilt1989 - 20/04/2018 03:28

    Class 769 Tri-Mode (TMU). Not a bad idea for GWR to inherit 19 of them so that these trains can operate on the Reading-Gatwick Airport via Redhill (North Downs Line) service. And to replace the Class 165's. Plus they could also be used on Oxford-Gatwick Airport and possibly used on Reading-Basingstoke service to replace the Class 165's to operate elsewhere. Including transferring some of them to be used in the Bristol area and Exeter area. Whilst the other Class 165's will still operate on Thames Valley branch lines (Slough-Windsor & Eton Central, Maidenhead-Marlow (via Bourne End) and Twyford-Henley-on-Thames) and West Ealing-Greenford branch line. As Class 387's have replaced them and are operated on London Paddington-Reading, Slough, Newbury, Didcot Parkway and hopefully Oxford. Once the electrification to Oxford is completed.

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    • FEDUP - 20/04/2018 18:07

      Another pointless and ungrammatical rant from AG. Has this man no pride?

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      • AndrewJGwilt1989 - 22/04/2018 15:55

        Anyone can have a opinion ok.

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    • AndrewJGwilt1989 - 20/04/2018 22:05

      As West Midlands Trains have got 7 Class 319’s that replaced the Class 321’s to Scotrail. They could also inherit couple of the Class 769’s that could operate between Coventry-Nuneaton & Coventry-Leamington Spa (despite they are to use the Class 172’s from London Overground to be used on those routes). And possibly Southern could also inherit some of the Class 769’s to work on Brighton-Ashford International service and to replace the Class Class 171’s to be used on the London Bridge-Uckfield service. Despite some stations do have shorted platforms and 2-Car Class 230 D-Trains might be ideal for the Marshlink Line service. So far Arriva Trains Wales will get 5 Class 769’s, Northern are also getting about 13 Class 769’s and GWR are to inherit 19 Class 769’s. Plus could ScotRail inherit some Class 769’s to operate on some routes that may not be possible to electrify except some lines that are currently been electrified that DMU trains once operated between Glasgow and Edinburgh but now are to be replaced by the Class 385’s when they enter service in December.

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    • AndrewJGwilt1989 - 22/04/2018 01:58

      Plus some of the Class 769’s could operate on Paddington-Windsor & Eton Central, Paddington-Bourne End-Marlow and Paddington-Henley-on-Thames (on peak time service) and to replace the Class 165’s to be transferred to Bristol and the Westcountry and also to be used on Cardiff Central-Portsmouth Harbour via Salisbury service. Aswell working some Class 769’s between Paddington & Basingstoke via Reading, Paddington-Swindon and Paddington-Bedwyn & Westbury. Which could work alongside the Class 387’s and Class 800’s on those routes.

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  • AndrewJGwilt1989 - 28/04/2018 05:24

    Could Class 769’s also be used on the Thames Valley branch lines (Slough-Windsor & Eton Central, Maidenhead-Marlow & Twyford-Henley-on-Thames) and to introduce a 1tp2h peak hour service between Paddington-Marlow, Paddington-Henley-on-Thames and Paddington-Windsor & Eton Central. If GWR were to inherit few more of the Class 769’s so that they could replace the Class 165’s on the TV branch lines to be cascaded and used in the Bristol area and to add more capacity for passengers traveling in the Westcountry.

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  • Vernon - 08/06/2018 13:59

    About a year ago Northern announced its intention to covert a number of its 319s to 769 bimodes and that the first two had been delivered to Wabtec (Brush) in Doncaster for the required diesel motors to be fitted, It was further stated that testing would take place in February 2018 with a view to introducing the converted sets in to service in mid May. However, not only did this not happen, but there appears to have been no word from any source the progress of the scheme. Is it the case that Northern's silence surrounding the whole operation is covering up an embarrassing failure in the attempt to convert these 30 year old electric sets ? Or is there some other explanation for the non appearance of a single 769 after an excessively long period in the hands of Brush engineering.

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  • Stephen Hutton - 12/06/2018 15:58

    Lets hope that Network rail will electrify the link between the old southern and western regions, so that these trains don't have to start up their diesel just to run a very short distance.

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