The first round of dispensation deadlines for UK rail fleets passed on March 31, with trains that failed to meet accessibility regulations withdrawn by that date.
Greater Anglia’s entire fleet of Mk 3s, totalling 118 passenger vehicles, did not meet the deadline as they were due to have been replaced by Stadler Class 745s.
The next deadline for GA to meet is April 18, by which date 15 non-refurbished Class 317s will have to be treated or be withdrawn.
All told, of more than 1,500 vehicles to which the Government gave dispensation to continue operating into 2020, half were part of GA’s fleet. This is mainly due to the delay in Bombardier Class 720s entering traffic, meaning that Class 317 and ‘321’ electric multiple units (EMUs) must continue in traffic beyond their planned withdrawal dates.
Speaking to RAIL on March 24, GA Managing Director Jamie Burles said of the situation regarding the suburban EMU fleets: “We know how important this is to the Rail Minister and it would be remiss of me to say there’s not a risk. I believe the most sensible option would have to be another dispensation.
“I do appreciate the minister’s view, but there will be a number of challenges to achieving the deadlines. Everyone is approaching it with the correct attitudes. I’m not dictating what the best solution is - a small, temporary extension would be ideal.
“Even before COVID-19 our Engineering Director has been looking at options, and he’s still working on it. There are about seven options, including hiring stock.”
For the FULL story, read RAIL 902, published on April 8, and available digitally now.