BRELíS new train takes to the rails
Rail No: 62 November 1986
British Rail Engineering Ltd.'s 'International' train was unveiled on September 15 and, two days later, took invited guests - numerous officials from foreign railway administrations and Britain's Secretary of State for Transport, John Moore - on a run from Euston to Manchester and return via Birmingham. The 10-coach train is a demonstration set and is owned by BREL. It is to be evaluated on BR with an option for BR to buy the set and, indeed, BREL is hoping, BR will buy further vehicles.
Built at Derby Litchurch Lane Works, the project has, according to BREL's Managing Director, Philip Norman, cost between 3Ĺ and 4 million pounds, although much of the equipment has been supplied free of charge or at reduced rate from the suppliers which total over 40.
The vehicles sit on standard BT10 bogies and thus the riding is comparable to present Mk. 3 vehicles. However, there are numerous small innovations which, when totalled, make this train a considerable improvement on existing passenger vehicles.
Power operated doors offer the first benefit and, at long last, Britain has caught up with the continent. These doors, incidentally, have been one of the teething troubles with the new train. Engineers have also overcome gauge and weight problems.
The seating is the most notable improvement. Whilst we have been lead to believe for years that seats are ergonomically designed (scientifically designed with the human body in mind), the 'International' seats are noticeably better. They actually do hug the body contours, but, above all else, they are constructed of a much harder 'filling' with the result that someone sitting thereon is supported comfortably instead of sinking into the cushion.
Whilst decor is a personal viewpoint, nevertheless, the colour schemes are considered outstanding. The second class is of two pleasing shades of green with a striped pattern; the first class is a magnificent blend of heather and grey, quite frankly, the finest decor yet seen on a British train.
Other novelties include video provision, although the standard of presentation left a lot to be desired with a poor standard of picture quality - presumably the fault of the film. In the first class, blinds are provided between the window panes, activated by a button. The catering vehicle is, of course, modular, in keeping with the new build of similar vehicles under construction for the LM Region. Pink rubber knobs are provided on the ends of seats (in the first class vehicles) so that passengers walking down the gangway can hold on should the train lurch. One drawback will be that these rubber knobs will quickly become discoloured with use.
A visual display at the end of the internal saloon affords the opportunity to advise passengers of any adverse occurrence or other matter deemed worthy of advice. A public address system is, of course, standard equipment, but will it be used correctly? BR might be getting there with its coaches, but guards' announcements are several miles behind.
Various seating configurations are being tried out in the 'International' vehicles, some with tables and some with airline style 'cram-them-in' layouts. An eight-person conference, cum meeting compartment is provided in the Brake First corridor vehicle. A separate compartment catering for two disabled people is another welcome inclusion.
Here are the accompanying photos - rather poor reproduction
The 10-coach set is to be used on a Euston-Manchester diagram (0650 and 1400 ex Euston and 1030 and 1740 ex Manchester) starting approximately mid October. It will not replace a Mk. 3 set, for BREL will, no doubt, be wanting to exhibit the 'International' train at other locations as the opportunity for sales materialises.
The ten vehicles are - 99520 (BFK), 99521,99522 (FO), 99523 (RUM), 99524, 99525, 99526, 99527,99528,99529 (TSO).
The 'International' train is stencilled to work at 110 mile/h, but a further vehicle (not part of the demonstration train) is to be fitted with the next generation T4 bogies for testing at 140 mile/h.
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