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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).
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Cumbrian comeback

Locomotive-hauled trains have returned to the Cumbrian Coast, with Direct Rail Services Class 37s and Mk 2s hired by Northern Rail as part of a Department for Transport plan to boost capacity in the North by two and a half million seats (RAIL 775). 

The two rakes of locomotive-hauled trains release Class 156s that are cascaded to First TransPennine Express. TPE hires these on a daily basis, allowing five Class 170/3s to move to Chiltern Railways. 

In effect, the Class 156s have been released not only by the ‘37s’ and Mk 2s, but also by the arrival in the North of four-car Class 319 electric multiple units, allowing the two-car diesel multiple units to be used to boost capacity elsewhere.

The complicated cascade was confirmed in RAIL 767. The additional rolling stock will mean extra capacity on selected trains between Blackpool North and Manchester Airport/Manchester Oxford Road, providing extra seats for passengers travelling to and from Preston, Bolton and Salford.

The overall aim is for all services crossing regional boundaries - those between Manchester, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Coast, Humberside and the North East - to be operated with a minimum of three carriages or 181 seats. Some services on the route are operated by two-carriage trains with 116 seats.

Northern Rail Managing Director Alex Hynes said at the time: “Rail travel is increasingly popular in the north of England, placing capacity at a premium. That is why we have been working with First TransPennine Express and the Department for Transport to ensure customers would not be disadvantaged by the loss of some FTPE trains.

“In doing so, we are delighted to be able to provide more seats for customers on some of our busiest routes. Through deploying more electric trains to take advantage of newly electrified routes, we are able to help maintain capacity for FTPE and add more seats for customers in Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.”

Following the introduction of the locomotive-hauled coaching stock, Hynes said: “The improvements along the Cumbrian Coast do mean changes to a number of services, and we appreciate it will take time to get used to them. 

“However, the addition of the locomotive-hauled trains brings thousands more seats every day, improving journey experiences for our commuting customers and offering more space for visitors to this fantastic region throughout the summer.”

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin added: “A quality rail service is vital to the local economy and tourism industry in Cumbria, which is why we have worked with Northern to bring these much-needed improvements to the region.”

The ‘37s’ run between Carlisle, Maryport, Workington, Whitehaven, Sellafield and Barrow-in-Furness. There will also be an enhanced early-morning Carlisle-Sellafield train, arriving in time for the morning shift at the power station. 

This provision of the locomotive-hauled coaching stock follows on from the successful trials supported by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield Ltd and Northern Rail in 2012. 

Three years on, the DfT has finally agreed to the use of the LHCS on a more permanent footing to increase capacity. The LHCS operates on weekdays only. 

“I am very proud to be involved in supporting Northern in delivering its vital services for Cumbria,” said DRS Managing Director Neil McNicholas.

“This is testimony to what can be achieved through a true partnership approach between freight and passenger operators.”

On the first day of operations (May 18), the trains used 37419 Carl Haviland and 37605 on one set, and 37423 Spirit of the Lakes and 37609 on the other. On May 20, DRS swapped 37409 Lord Hinton for 37605. 

In time, Mk 2 Driving Brake Standard Opens (DBSO) will be used, removing the need for a ‘37’ at each end of the train. 

  • This feature was published in RAIL 776 on June 10 2015

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