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British trains have the oldest carriages since records began, says research

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/laughing-stock-british-trains-oldest-11777192

Rail passengers in Britain are travelling on the oldest carriages since records began, research has found.

Customers are using trains that were typically built in the mid-1990s, making them 21-years-old on average.

That is older than at any point in publicly available records.

The findings come as passengers face a rise in fares by an average of 3.4% – the biggest in five years – as of tomorrow.

The Office of Rail and Road, which produced the statistics, has previously said older trains can mean worse reliability, less comfortable journeys and poorer performance.

Travellers using the Caledonian Sleeper service between London and Scotland have to put up with Britain’s oldest trains at 42 years.

Merseyrail has the second-oldest fleet at 38 years. Stephen Joseph of the Campaign for Better Transport said it shows “just how far the railways have to go to modernise”.

He said: “We’ve been promised new trains by several train operators... we now want to see these promises turn into reality."
Many lines, like the Hallam line linking Sheffield - Leeds via Barnsley, Wakefield and Castleford, and Sheffield - Huddersfield have 35 year old Pacers running on them, whose scrapping was promised in 2010, in sharp contrast to the investment London and the South East gets. And we know there will be similar horror stories elsewhere.
 

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British trains have the oldest carriages since records began, says research

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/laughing-stock-british-trains-oldest-11777192



Many lines, like the Hallam line linking Sheffield - Leeds via Barnsley, Wakefield and Castleford, and Sheffield - Huddersfield have 35 year old Pacers running on them, whose scrapping was promised in 2010, in sharp contrast to the investment London and the South East gets. And we know there will be similar horror stories elsewhere.
Almost none of that is accurate, even if you ignore the London Underground fleet. The sleepers date from 1982/83, the day coaches from 1975. The same vehicles are used by DRS in Cumbria and Anglia, so those trains are on average older than the sleeper fleet. The Chiltern and Anglia mk3s date from 1975 and the class 313s used on Great Northern and Southern from 1975/76, so are several years older than the Merseyrail fleet. And of course the oldest of all are the 1938 Bakerloo stock now running on the Isle of Wight.

Not that old carriages always means bad, it depends on how good a design they were in the first place and how they are maintained. The Chiltern mk3s can offer an excellent journey experience.
 

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There are 6000 new carriages on order and 3000 old carriages to be scrapped over the next two years, a net increase of the fleet by 20%, the number of carriages will have doubled since privatisation and thats even including the old BR London slam door fleet of a couple of thousand carriages only used for one morning and evening service a day and sat around in sidings for the rest of the day.
 

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This is a little unfair, since it doesn't look at the confirmed new orders. Both Caledonian Sleeper and Merseyrail have signed the contracts to replace their entire fleets within the next couple of years. Lots of operators are waiting on delivery of new trains.
 

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The irony though is that privatisation and increasing rail fares promised rapid refreshing of the train sets.
It has. Thousands of carriages have been replaced over the last 15 to 20 years.
The old trains and carriages being referred to, are the last of the BR ordered stock to be replaced.
Most of these are being replaced now and over the next 3 years, with thousands of new carriages either under construction right now, or on order for delivery in the next few years.

The average life expectancy of these trains and carriages is normally between 35 and 40 years, so there's nothing odd in 30 to 40 year stock being still around.


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The average life expectancy of these trains and carriages is normally between 35 and 40 years, so there's nothing odd in 30 to 40 year stock being still around. .
Indeed - some of the earlier class 313 units working on Great Northern suburban lines and also on Southern Coastway are already well past their 42nd birthday. And there are also five mk3 vehicles still in service on the GWML/ECML dating from spring 1972 that were part of the prototype HST set. Some will soon see their 46th birthday in service.

Plenty of ex BR stock will be in service well into the 2020s.

Looking further ahead, it is inevitable that some mk3s will go well past their 50th with Scotrail - and possibly with Chiltern too.

And as for locos.... the oldest two in frontline service will be 56 years old this year! :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It has. Thousands of carriages have been replaced over the last 15 to 20 years.
The old trains and carriages being referred to, are the last of the BR ordered stock to be replaced.
Most of these are being replaced now and over the next 3 years, with thousands of new carriages either under construction right now, or on order for delivery in the next few years.

The average life expectancy of these trains and carriages is normally between 35 and 40 years, so there's nothing odd in 30 to 40 year stock being still around.


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The investment has largely been down in the South East. Up North and in the South West, most of it is old and worn out. Our trains are already 35 years old. They'd go apeshit if our Pacers started running in the South East. And as for new trains, all we can expect are hand me downs from other parts of the network. That isn't good enough. The last time we did get brand new trains in our area that weren't hand me downs was back in 1959 - almost 60 years ago!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Almost none of that is accurate, even if you ignore the London Underground fleet. The sleepers date from 1982/83, the day coaches from 1975. The same vehicles are used by DRS in Cumbria and Anglia, so those trains are on average older than the sleeper fleet. The Chiltern and Anglia mk3s date from 1975 and the class 313s used on Great Northern and Southern from 1975/76, so are several years older than the Merseyrail fleet. And of course the oldest of all are the 1938 Bakerloo stock now running on the Isle of Wight.

Not that old carriages always means bad, it depends on how good a design they were in the first place and how they are maintained. The Chiltern mk3s can offer an excellent journey experience.
The reality is - the percentage of trains in the South East that are less than 10 years old is far greater than in South Yorkshire. The 'newest' trains I get to work on are around 29 years old. The oldest are now 35/36 years old. Half of the time, the toilets or toilet (there's often only one), is out of order, so heaven help anyone who wants to use a train toilet after a night out. A couple of years ago, I had to break a train journey more than 10 miles from home and rush into the nearest pub (the Snooty Fox) near Wakefield Kirkgate station, because the only toilet on the train was out of action - thank God there was one later train. When these get replaced, it will be with trains that are well into their 20s - surplus cascaded from other lines. It is an all too familiar cycle for us up here. On top of that, electrification of the Midland Mainline to Sheffield and potentially beyond has been canned, which could have been the start of an electrified network taking in South and West Yorkshire plus the East Midlands. People are getting increasingly fed up of being treated as second class citizens up here.
 

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The irony though is that privatisation and increasing rail fares promised rapid refreshing of the train sets.
In a recent article in Modern Rail magazine a writer was complaining that rolling stock owners were scrapping trains far too early. I think it was a mixture of them, the operating companies and the government who were just losing the head of themselves in the search for shiny new train orders. They also came in for criticism for not having enough ambition to sell their disused stock to other companies/ countries. Why privatisation has led to this spendthrift attitude I don't know, or at least can't remember what the article implied.

Incidentally I always chuckle when train & bus operators make such a big deal of new rolling stock having wi-fi, plug sockets & USB ports- they spend tens of millions on the important stuff but then focus on the stuff that is so cheap that there's little reason not buying it. Next they'll have a big press release trumping a trains' go-faster stripes and furry dice.
 

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In a recent article in Modern Rail magazine a writer was complaining that rolling stock owners were scrapping trains far too early. I think it was a mixture of them, the operating companies and the government who were just losing the head of themselves in the search for shiny new train orders. They also came in for criticism for not having enough ambition to sell their disused stock to other companies/ countries. Why privatisation has led to this spendthrift attitude I don't know, or at least can't remember what the article implied.

That was Ian Walmsley, who used to be involved with procuring rolling stock for Porterbrook, so he knows what he is talking about. The present situation is weird to say the least, some electric rolling stock with plenty of life left in it is being cast aside needlessly (for example the SWR class 458s which are barely 15 years old). Meanwhile diesel class 150 sprinters dating from 1986-88 are expected to soldier on for years yet in many parts of the country and are getting extensive corrosion repairs. Yet in Anglia everything (including 1980s diesel sprinter units) are being replaced.

There is no coherent policy across the country and (for example) the premature replacement of the high quality IC225 trains on the East Coast will mean higher ticket prices to pay for the lease of expensive new IEP trains.

British Rail was generally consistent and logical. Reliable and fit for purpose rolling stock was often cascaded onto the lesser routes when replaced by newer trains, giving an uplift in quality. Generally BR aimed to keep commuter diesel trains running for up to 30 years and electrics up to 40 years.
 

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I was always under the impression that when trains were replaced they were then shunted to other parts of the country to replace older stock in a trickle down effect.

Do they simply just scrap them even if there's need elsewhere, if so that's such a waste?
 

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That was Ian Walmsley, who used to be involved with procuring rolling stock for Porterbrook, so he knows what he is talking about. The present situation is weird to say the least, some electric rolling stock with plenty of life left in it is being cast aside needlessly (for example the SWR class 458s which are barely 15 years old). Meanwhile diesel class 150 sprinters dating from 1986-88 are expected to soldier on for years yet in many parts of the country and are getting extensive corrosion repairs. Yet in Anglia everything (including 1980s diesel sprinter units) are being replaced.

There is no coherent policy across the country and (for example) the premature replacement of the high quality IC225 trains on the East Coast will mean higher ticket prices to pay for the lease of expensive new IEP trains.

British Rail was generally consistent and logical. Reliable and fit for purpose rolling stock was often cascaded onto the lesser routes when replaced by newer trains, giving an uplift in quality. Generally BR aimed to keep commuter diesel trains running for up to 30 years and electrics up to 40 years.
Train companies care about money. It so happens now that there's more money to be made by ordering lots of new trains than there is keeping older ones.

It's hard to imagine but businesses look at whole-life costs, and trains involve lots of costs beyond the initial purchase price. Modern railway operation is stretched to the limit, meaning that the operational cost is a much higher proportion of the overall lifetime cost than before. These new trains aren't going to be sitting around in sidings all day, like much of the old BR stock.

It's not really that different to how EasyJet and Ryanair are constantly renewing their fleets. They work their planes so hard that it makes financial sense to replace them before the maintenance costs get too high. All that technology which makes them so efficient to run when new makes them expensive to run once they're old, at the same time as there are new planes which are even more efficient available to buy new.

Properly old equipment is easy to keep running indefinitely since it required only relatively simple and cheap equipment to build. A reasonably competent workshop and basic suppliers could make all of the parts needed to build a 1970s train today. When digital and solid-state electronics came in, that became quite a lot more difficult. Once the initial run of parts has been used up, you don't have much option but to cannibalise other units for parts, which is going to be very difficult if you have a fleet already pretty thinly stretched. While some bits are easy to replace, other bits might require whole new systems to be installed. The cost of a train is now in the components needed to make it do stuff, rather than in the big chunky bits of metal which hold all those components together. If you're going to end up replacing much of the components, you're essentially spending most of the cost of a new train, albeit without the advantage of other modern technologies.

The alternative to buying new trains would be to refit old ones. However, we've seen the 458/5 and 321 Renatus projects flounder completely. The former project took years longer than expected, and when the work was done the costs just went up and up. The 321 programme really hasn't gone well either, with the air conditioning system deemed a total failure. Even when the D-Stock were bought at scrap value, the cost of rebuilding them into the 60mph Vivarail 230 DMUs is 2/3rds the cost of a brand new 100mph CAF DMU with a 30 year life ahead and no public image problems.

The ScotRail/GWR/CrossCountry HSTs seem to be going fine because they don't need to do that much work to bring them up to modern standards. The engines were replaced a while ago and the trains already have a modern interior fitted for long distance InterCity work. Since the trains are older and simpler, it's easier to fit the minimal new kit required like the doors and retention toilets. To top it off, they're only going to be used on secondary routes where we don't need to eke out every last drop of performance and capacity.
 

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Train companies care about money. It so happens now that there's more money to be made by ordering lots of new trains than there is keeping older ones...
Am I right in thinking that the one exception to this way of doing things is the London Underground, where the tube stock being bought now will probably soldier on for the next 30 years. In your opinion, why is this so.
 

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Am I right in thinking that the one exception to this way of doing things is the London Underground, where the tube stock being bought now will probably soldier on for the next 30 years. In your opinion, why is this so.
Tube train investment is not amortised through a ROSCO. Even if whole-life-cost means it makes sense to buy new trains now, the whole capital cost hits this year's budget and that might be politically unacceptable. At least indirectly, because TfL still has to beg for money from the Treasury. Hence the delays to the NT4L programme.

In the franchised world the capital risk rests with the banks and the Treasury is quite happy to incur lower lease and maintenance costs for the next 10 years.
 

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I must say this is a very odd way of doing things. Why not simply procure the NT4L on a lease basis? You take much more advantage of the competitive market through leasing new trains than selling clapped out old ones. Lenders are much more enthusiastic about new trains they have good control over from the word go (especially through a TSSSA arrangement) and at reduced margins (because the risk is lower). Sell them existing stock then you end up with the ex-BR stock situation where a very low number of market entrants just took the pi$$.
 

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The investment has largely been down in the South East. Up North and in the South West, most of it is old and worn out. Our trains are already 35 years old. They'd go apeshit if our Pacers started running in the South East. And as for new trains, all we can expect are hand me downs from other parts of the network. That isn't good enough. The last time we did get brand new trains in our area that weren't hand me downs was back in 1959 - almost 60 years ago!!!!
Let's get this right. THE only trains running anywhere in Yorkshire that are 35 years or older are High Speed trains forming VTEC or Cross Country services. Local diesel trains built for BR date from 1986 to 1991, so they are between 27 and 32 years old, not 35 or 36. It is also complete rubbish to say all trains in Yorkshire were hand me downs from elsewhere. In early 1993 I travelled from York to Scarborough and back on almost new 'Provincial' liveried class 158s. Ten years later I travelled on a brand new TPE class 185 from Leeds to York. Yorkshire also saw brand new class 170s delivered early this century while West Yorkshire got brand new class 333 electrics about 20 years ago.

It may be the case in early 2018 that trains in the south east are on average a bit younger, but 15 years ago (before many mk1 electrics were scrapped) Yorkshire had a much younger fleet. And when the new CAF and Hitachi trains are delivered for Northern and TPE in 2019 it probably will again.

The north has no really old trains. A few months ago I had to travel from Heathrow to Barnet. Most of the journey was on a Piccadilly train built in 1973 or 1974. At Finsbury Park the class 313 I caught was also ancient - dating from 1975 or 1976.

Pacers of course are very poor trains, but they will be withdrawn next year and brand new replacement air conditioned trains will be introduced onto many Northern routes. In contrast that old tube train from Heathrow will continue running for at least another six years, no air con ever happening for them!
 

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Actually Northern does have some old vehicles forming a few services, albeit owned and run on their behalf by DRS in Cumbria. The two rakes of loco hauled mk2 stock date from 1974/75 and when working correctly give a much better passenger experience than any other trains that Northern operate!

In reply to 1M14, there are some instances where an operator may need to ditch stock that still has useful economic life - the Thameslink 319s for example, not enough performance and not enough of them to run the enhanced service. So the new Siemens 700s were justified in that case. Leasing charges tend to be lower for older stock, but higher maintenance and energy bills or increasing unreliability and unattractiveness to passengers can also swing the case towards new build.
 
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