HINDSIGHT IS a wonderful thing, and it is often easy to be wise after the event – something the Prime Minister clearly calls in aid when faced with criticism from the Leader of the Opposition about the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, calling him Captain Hindsight.
However, the decision by the Department for Transport to insist that East Midlands Railway took on former LNER HSTs to replace its own original sets looks dafter by the passing month.
To recap, HST replacement on the Midland main line has been a protracted saga, bound up with the delay and eventual postponement of electrification and the delay to the franchise competition, which put off the possibility of a replacement fleet being ordered until 2019. By that time, the Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM) deadline was only a few months away, and a dispensation to allow unmodified HSTs to continue operating into 2020 was inevitable.
East Midlands Trains had sought advice on modification to its HSTs in the early part of 2019, before the franchise transferred later that year to Abellio-owned EMR. The EMR franchise displaces the HSTs through the launch of the electric service to Corby using Class 360s and the arrival of the four Class 180s from Hull Trains, which combine with the Class 222 Meridians to allow the removal of the HSTs. This major timetable overhaul was originally planned for December 2020 but was put back to May 2021 due to the pandemic.