Bombardier’s electrification plan presented to ministers

Train builder Bombardier has presented ministers with an offer to construct 123 pantograph vehicles and convert 21  existing vehicles in the 22x fleet into EDMUs.

Known as Operation Thor,  the vehicle construction and conversion work, which would cost £300m, would be carried out at Bombardier’s Derby works.

Bombardier say that it is a way of allowing the electrification of the country’s main rail routes while missing out the “expensive bits”

Voyager 221115, in Bombardier livery, at Polmadie depot. Picture: Jonathan Webb

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6 Responses to "Bombardier’s electrification plan presented to ministers"

  1. Here’s a pretty idea… « Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts says:

    […] “Bombardier’s electrification plan presented to ministers” A Virgin Trains Class 221 – these diesel units operate a long way under the wires. Bombardier's proposal would provide major fuel savings by allowing these units to operate with pantographs were possible […]

  2. Míceál MacTíer says:

    For some years I have wondered why this was not done before or shortly after the 221s were first launched. It is the kind of no-brainer logical step that in the U.S.A. would be taken for granted.
    Who needs SET when you can turn the 221 DEMUs into EDMUs? I would offer the suggestion that the 222s should also be so treated.

  3. Paul says:

    Two reasons why it wasnt done years ago. Firstly this is Britain. We dont do obvious or common sense in this country. Secondly the train operator who specified these trains was Virgin – enough said!

  4. M. says:

    In defence of the specification of the Voyagers – at the time of ordering, the predominant use of Class 220s/221s was planned to be “off-juice” on CrossCountry, thus it was possibly seen that a Pantograph-Trailer vehicle was not essential, and would be an additional weight with the obvious performance impact. You have to remember that we are talking about CrossCountry in the late 1990s, not the CrossCountry of 2010 – demand was lower in those days, and the Operation Princess timetable required a higher power/weight ratio than the previous trains used.

    Moreover, the technology of the Voyagers had not been used before in that combination (computer-controlled high-power underfloor engines powering a variable-voltage/variable-frequency three-phase drive) on the UK network – adding a pantograph car would have increased the technical complexity and risk, which would have only prolonged introduction into service – something which franchisees on relatively short contracts are loathe to do.

    There were (and in some cases, still are) also issues of route clearance – specifically signalling immunisation (which doesn’t affect DEMUs as their traction packs are effectively electrically isolated from the infrastructure) – which would/will trigger a major signalling immunisation project, thus you could still end up with EDMUs running on diesel under the wires because of the signalling. Of note, there are, or have been, similar restrictions in some parts of France to SNCF’s “AGC Bimode” (81500/82500-series) – again running on diesel under the wires. There may also be issues of structural clearance on non-electrified routes where the pantograph head protrudes outside the ‘normal’ vehicle gauge.

    Finally, mention must be made of the Strategic Rail Authority, who effectively barred Virgin from ordering extra vehicles for the Voyagers.

  5. Paul says:

    I’m not so sure about the points you make there. The Cross Country network in the late 90’s was pretty similar to todays and would have still involved many miles running under the wires on the ECML and WCML. The Voyagers use the same Alstom Onyx traction package as Pendolinos so are in effect electric trains fitted with on board generators. Hooking them up to Transformer would have not been difficult at all. The pantograph wells could have been shaped to accommodate lowered pans, indeed on all electric trains that are pan-down it is a requirement that they remain within loading guage already.

  6. What can you do? « Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts says:

    […] unit will be removed and added to the other two, while the driving cars are placed in storage. But, Bombardier have made a suggestion to the government in regards to their Voyager family as a way of encompassing the upcoming electrification projects. […]

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