HSTs SHORTENED TO 2+6 FORMATION
THE DECEMBER timetable change saw significant changes within East Midlands Railway’s fleet, with Class 180s introduced, usage of HSTs reduced and the latter shortened to 2+6 formations.
The four Class 180s previously operated with Hull Trains and are an interim fleet for EMR prior to the introduction of its Class 810 Aurora bi-modes in 2023. The first working was on Sunday 13 December when No 180110 operated shuttles between Kettering and Corby; the following day saw the first working to London, with Nos 180110/111 forming the 05.19 Derby to St Pancras. The ‘180s’ will be used predominantly on Nottingham and Corby services, but have been route-cleared from Chesterfield into Sheffield via Dore; they will work in pairs on peak services and on Sundays.
Introduction of the ‘180s’ has enabled EMR to reduce the usage of its HSTs. From eight 2+8 sets and three 2+6 sets, the operator has reduced its requirement to five daily diagrams. The 2+6 sets, cascaded from Grand Central in 2018, have been withdrawn.
The operator has been transitioning from the HST stock it inherited at the start of the franchise to sets cascaded from LNER, as the ex-LNER Mk 3 coaches are less non-compliant with Persons with Reduced Mobility regulations. Preparing the red ex-LNER sets for service has proved challenging due to the extensive work needed on them, but by the end of the year EMR planned to have withdrawn all its original Mk 3s. The last working for the original VP185-engined power cars was the 20.01 St Pancras to Leeds on 11 December, with red ex-LNER examples now used on all services.
The red HSTs EMR has retained have been reduced to 2+6 formation, which EMR says is to improve performance, reduce heavy maintenance costs, fuel charges, track access and leasing charges, and because reduced passenger numbers mean the extra capacity is not needed.
EMR will withdraws its HSTs entirely in May when it introduces the new St Pancras to Corby electric service operated by Class 360 EMUs, with Nottingham and Sheffield services operated by the ‘180s’ and Class 222 Meridians. All 21 Class 360s were due to transfer to EMR by the end of 2020, and instructor training was underway in December ahead of driver training beginning in the New Year. A further milestone was the movement under their own power of a trio of ‘360s’ from Cricklewood to the new stabling facility at Kettering, built by Network Rail for EMR, on 26 November.
‘170s’ RETURN AFTER FALSE START
As we reported last month, EMR introduced a Class 170 on the Robin Hood line from Nottingham to Mansfield and Worksop on 2 November, but unit No 170417 was withdrawn after its first day in service due to a fault. In the event, it did not return until 8 December, when EMR also introduced a ‘170’ on the Derby to Crewe route. Initially the operator has 5x3-car sets which have transferred from ScotRail, and these will be joined by further sets from West Midlands Trains and Govia Thameslink Railway, the latter subject to replacements being secured for them. EMR’s planned full ‘170’ fleet comprises 33x2-car and 11x3-car units, although additional DMUs will be needed now the operator is retaining the Nottingham to Liverpool service, originally planned to transfer to Northern or TransPennine Express.
As it awaits the arrival of further cascaded DMUs, there was speculation EMR would retain some single-car Class 153s into 2021, although the operator was unable to confirm this as we went to press. The ‘153s’ are primarily deployed coupled to PRM-compliant Class 156 or 158 DMUs but have occasionally been used on their own or in pairs.