Thursday 22 January 2015

The 379 Prius Hits The Tracks

How many times have you been stranded because a diesel unit has failed yet you can see an electric unit standing idle and wished it ran on batteries so, like diesels, it could run on any line regardless of traction? If you have then you are not alone because the first battery powered train is currently (no pun intended but it is rather good) running trials on the Manningtree - Harwich line. The bright sparks (I'm in the groove now) at Bombardier, together with Network Rail, Greater Anglia,  innovation body FutureRail and the Department of Transport have converted a Class 379 Electrostar to run on batteries with no need for a pantograph. Public testing is now taking place and regular contributor and all round star Robert Appleton was out there yesterday changing codes from buses and taking some pics of it, which he has kindly sent to me.

379013 sits at Manningtree before heading out to Harwich    pic (c) Robert Appleton
The brains behiind the operation all listed on the side of the train    pic (c) Robert Appleton
A word of warning - if you decide this is the vehicle you have been waiting for and you want to buy one for God's sake make sure it does exactly what it says on the tin, or alluminium whatever they build trains from these days, and it does indeed come with batteries included. If it doesn't you might find 80,000 of them a little trcky to get delivered and if my remote control is anything to go by fitting them will be a real bugger!

379013 sits at Harwich before its return journey to Manningtree    pic (c) Robert Appleton
379013 pulls out of Mistley Station en route to Harwich   pic (c) Robret Appleton
So of course the joke of the day has to be as follows - When is an electric train rude? When its pants are down, of course. Not bad for 1.15am but for those of you clapping your hand on your forehead I apologise! I fully intend to travel on this train before the trials end in February, as having worked on Electrostars I'm interested to experience the ride for myself to see if anything is different. I still think it's brave using a unit finishing in 13 though! I guess the next step will be to trial it on a non electrified line and that will be one to watch, although the talk is that any future electric train will be purpose built rather than converted. That being the case it may be some years before the good old DEMU becomes threatened. My thanks go to Robert for the pics, and I'll try to get on this remarkable train in the next couple of weeks.

Look no pants!! 379013 at Mistley with pantograph down proving use of alternative power.   pic (c) Robert Appleton

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