Our “New” Trains ….

Posted on November 2nd, 2011, by The Chairman

We’ve talked about the serious overcrowding in the Leeds and Manchester areas more than a few times since this Blog started. Last December we blogged about when we might see the overcrowding relieved, given the then further announcements that had been made.

The cascade has started.

Here’s 1986 built ex-London Midland class 150 150111 on the 0645 Buxton-Blackpool North at Stockport on Thursday 18 October.

And here, again at Stockport are two shots from 1 November.

150111 again on the 0645 from Buxton.

And here later that day is 150114 coupled to a Northern-liveried class 150/1 on our 1503 Chester-Manchester Piccadilly leaving Stockport.

I’ve not heard whether the 4 class 156s have yet been sent East Midlands, so I’m not aware whether these count as extra capacity.

Please leave a comment

  1. Edd Says:

    According to the Northern Railways forum there have been 8 Class 150s that have arrived at Newton Heath: 150110, 150111, 150113, 150114, 150204, 150210, 150214 & 150226.

    Two Northern 156s have left and are now in service with East Midlands Trains. They apparently have notices on board apologising for the poor state of the interiors and saying they will be refurbished soon.

  2. Lord Harry of Sodor Says:

    London Midland gets brand new Class 172 DMUs and Northern gets 26 year old Class 150 cast offs.

    How nice.

  3. Jen Says:

    Northern have received another 4 London Midland 150s (150103, 150116, 150117 and 150132). They are reportedly only diagramming 8 extra 150s in service before the December timetable change – 4 of them replacing the 180 diagrams and 4 of them replacing the EMT bound 156s. Although a Central Trains livered unit can appear on any service which is booked 150 or has a 150 filling in.

  4. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Jen!

    I wonder if this is due to DfT funding which will cover the 8 units brought into service now, as they replace the 180s and the EMT 156s, in effect meaning the other units are off lease until the timetable change.

  5. Morris Minor Says:

    Rather amazing that the older units are coming back to the Cheshire Lines.

    Does anybody know if we will be getting any Class 101/102s? Surely they have some hidden away, in the railway reserve centre.

  6. The Chairman Says:

    I travelled on one of our “new” trains today, 150204 which with 150275 was on the 0917 from Piccadilly to Chester. (This train is diagrammed for 2 units, one being left at Chester such that the 1503 return is a 4-car and then also works as a 4-car on the 1651 from Piccadilly to Buxton).

    150204 has CCTV, unlike any of our other Northern units. Apart from this, the seat squabs are less comfortable than on Northern 150s, many well on their way to collapsing (and reminding you of sitting on the loo!!). Also, the Door Key Switches (DKSs) have not been turned round as on the Northern units (something we successfully lobbied for back in 2002) which means the conductors hate them as they have to return to the rear cab to open the doors at each station. Hopefully, Northern will turn the DKSs round soon and also reupholster the seating.

  7. Mike Battman Says:


    Interesting that you should mention the DKSs not being turned round in the ‘new’ units. My experience this last week is that they are not turned round in the ‘old’ units either. Certainly the guard was returning to his cab to open the doors.

  8. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Mike!

    The DKSs are turned round on all Northern units apart from those that have just arrived. The final ones were turned round about a year ago on the class 144s.

    It may be you were on a class 150 where the DKS is turned round so that it is in the vestibule rather than the cab. You would still see the conductor going into the vestibule though not into the cab, which means they can operate the DKS at the front on the train as well as the back without going into the driver’s cab.

  9. Mike Battman Says:

    Yes, it was on the class 150s; I assume by the vestibule you mean the area adjacent to the cab, that could well be the case then.

    It does seem an absurd system, even on the early evening train we got from Chester, the guard was constantly having to return to the vestibule (often fighting his way through people preparing to alight who were stood in the isles. Despite the train having stopped in the station, the opening of the doors on a couple of occasions was delayed whilst the guard made his way back. On other occasions he interupted a transaction with tickets half printed as he returned to open the doors, much to the amusement of his customers.

    On the early morning trains (e.g. 07:44 from Navigation Road) the revenue loss from passengers must be substantial, because no one can buy a ticket between Navigation Road and Knutsford (a journey made by many school children) because the guard is stuck in his/her room.

    I too have “benefitted” from this when travelling the short distance to Hale for a meal or a few beers; I have been unable to buy a ticket for the journey and have joked about my free Northern Rail taxi.


  10. The Chairman Says:

    Hi! Yes, the vestibule is the area just on the passenger side of the cab.

    It’s a shame that DKSs are not provided by the passenger doors as is the case on the Arriva Trains Wales 150s, with the 158s as built and on the Merseyrail 507s and 508s. Apparently (according to First North Western who started this on our units) this was much more expensive than just “turning round” the DKSs. The Welsh Government paid for the ATW 150s to be converted as part of their refurbishment, whereas FNW and now Northern have paid for it themselves.

  11. Conductor Says:

    Due to various incidents of people falling between the platform and train throughout the Country, Northern have decided for safety reasons that Conductors can no longer open or close doors from the front of the train, except in special circumstances. Briefs have started to be issued so within a few weeks you will notice a distinct lack of Revenue checks made in the front carriage of trains. Especially between short stations stops like Hale – Knutsford – Northwich.

    We try out hardest and it’s not laziness for no tickets but we work with machines that are very prone to breakdowns and now with lack of DKS at the front, it would be appreciated by me and my colleagues if members of the Mid Cheshire line did not report Conductors for “laziness” over this 🙂

  12. Morris Minor Says:

    How about running with a conductor and a seperate ticket inspector.
    Oh ! sorry means two men , hence more cost.
    It could match the ticket evasion problem though.
    Think about it.

  13. Conductor Says:

    Roving RPIs would be an idea. But think about it, it’s all down to cost and benefit. Would there be enough tickets sold by the extra person to justify the cost of them using an additional machine and wages per train?

    Highly unlikely on the Mid Cheshire line.

  14. Peter Says:

    I have been on trains on the Mid Cheshire line where there has been a conductor and an additional ticket inspector but this certainly isn’t common and on most trains a lot of passengers don’t get asked for a ticket.

    I’m not sure if revenue taken is actually that low on the Mid Cheshire line compared to other lines. Not having the PTE subsided fares for the majority of journeys made would mean revenue per passenger would be higher than the Northern Rail average.

    We get the among the highest fares in the North and the poorest rolling stock – not exactly very fair!

  15. Conductor Says:

    There was a trial for an additional fares collector or AFC as they are called. Sometimes you will find that there will be a Conductor doing the doors with a trainee doing Revenue or someone who is “off trains” and not certified to work safety critical duties such as door controls so can only do revenue.

    Perhaps at morning there is a minor justification for ticket sales on the Mid Cheshire line but there are more ticketless travel on other high revenue lines such as Crewe, Stoke and Buxton that would take a greater priority over Mid Cheshire purely because of the extra amount of potential lost revenue an AFC could collect.

  16. In The Know Says:

    Nobody has mentioned the 14 lovely 142’s which are being returned to Northern…… can’t think why not.
    I’m told 2 are already with us ‘up north’ and are being painted up as we speak.
    A nice fitting replacement to the 180’s 😉

  17. Peter Says:

    In the Know – it’s 14 Pacer carriages which makes 7 x 2 carriage trains. The DfT like to count in carriages opposed to trains because it sounds more. The good news is the extra Pacers are set run around doubled up on current Sprinter diagrams, allowing Sprinters to be used on current Pacer diagrams, allowing extra capacity in both cases. The last of the extra units arrived this week.

  18. The Chairman Says:

    I see that according to RAIL 684 (30 November – 13 December 2011) that there are 150s transferred to Northern on a “full-time basis”, but that there are also 4 (103, 106, 117 & 132) which are not “full time” and will only be painted from the windows down.

    Does anyone know what this “not on a full-time basis” means, i.e. are they likely to be taken away by DfT and given to another TOC without being replaced?

  19. Peter Says:

    I don’t know what “not on a full-time basis” means but there are two mistakes in RAIL. One is FGW have 150106 so it is actually 150114 that should have been mentioned. The other is they aren’t being repainted in part, they are having Northern vinyls placed over the Central livery which don’t come up above the bottom of the windows, similar to what First TransPennine Express did with the 158s. 150114 has already had this done.

  20. Mike Battman Says:

    The BBC is saying we are to get 50 new carriages…


  21. Jen Says:

    Mike: The BBC have been guilty of some very poor reporting today. They earlier claimed London Midland had replaced 150 old trains with 172 new trains, instead of saying they’d replaced their Class 150s with Class 172s.

    The 50 ‘more’ carriages (as the BBC claims) refer to 20 x Class 322 carraiges, 14 x Class 142 carriages and 16 x Class 150 carriages, which are already at Northern and scheduled to be in use from today. It’s not 50 more, it’s the previously mentioned 50 being put in to service.

  22. Mike Battman Says:

    I feared it was; thanks for clarifying Jen.

    It looks like they are repeating it on Look North West tonight in 20-minutes time.

  23. Jen Says:

    There have been a lot of complaints via local media and the Internet about the Preston-Bolton-Manchester corridor. It hasn’t received any extra capacity as a result of the cascades and apparently the 2x150s used on the morning Blackpool to Hazel Grove service instead of the 180 is very overcrowded. As 2x150s is around the same size as a 319 which is supposed to be operating on the newly electrified lines in a few years, so even without passenger growth the 319s are looking like they’ll be unsuitable, given the platform lengths won’t allow 319s to be doubled up.

    Incidentally I noticed someone tweeted Northern about replacing bus trains on Manchester to Chester with proper trains and their response was they have no plans to.

  24. Jen Says:

    Now the extra units are in service, one of the existing Northern 150s seems unable to be repaired after a failure. 150145 failed on the 6th December. It has been sat at Manchester Piccadilly platform 11 ever since.

  25. Jen Says:

    To cast doubt on the RAIL story about units being leased on a part time basis Northern have just given 150117 new seat covers and repainted it in a full Northern livery.

    RAIL apparently also got the name of the leasing company wrong as the 150s that have arrived from London Midland are leased from Angel Trains.

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