Northern Class 319s to become bi-mode units

LEASING Company Porterbrook and train operator Northern are to jointly develop an innovative rolling stock solution by introducing diesel power packs to Class 319 units.

Northern’s Class 319 fleet is expanding with the introduction of a number of bi-mode units. On May 22, 2015 unit Nos. 319361 and 319386 wait at Liverpool Lime Street. CHRIS MILNER

The novel concept will see the units dubbed Class 319 ‘Flex’, and by fitting two diesel-powered alternators, one under each of the driving trailer cars, it will allow the unit to operate seamlessly over electrified and non-electrified routes. The project is supported by Rail North, representing local authorities in the north of England.

Power from the alternators will run through the unit’s DC bus, which will eliminate the need for significant changes, and allow the unit to operate on 25kV overhead, 750vDC third rail or diesel power.

From inception, the concept for the Class 319 ‘Flex’ was to minimise alterations to the vehicle design and kept the cost of conversion to an attractive level.

The design also has provision to cater for a range of operations, either as an alternative to current DMUs or offering more performance if required through the fitment of additional batteries for
non-electrified operations.

Zena Dent, projects & technical director at Porterbrook, said: “The highly innovative Class 319 ‘Flex’ will be a flexible and highly efficient unit that will provide operators with a ‘go anywhere’ train, something which is not currently available with any other rolling stock solution.”

Wabtec Brush is working on the detailed design phases of the project.

It is hoped the first units will be in passenger service with train operator Arriva Northern by spring 2018.

Read more News in February’s issue of The RM – out now!

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