Here’s a good news story about UK rail that’s contrary to the currently widely held view that the UK rail industry is a disaster.
Notwithstanding the debacle of new time table introduction by some train operators, more than 50% of the rolling stock – engines and carriages – will be new by March 2021.
In the report on the Long Term Passenger Rolling Stock Strategy for the Rail Industry sixth edition March 2018 by the Rail Delivery Group, is this, which I’ve taken from the excellent blog post The new trains dilemma (what to do with the old ones) by Paul Bigland.
” The number of new vehicles committed for delivery in the five-year period that commenced in April 2014 (CP5) and in the early years of CP6 is now 7,187 – more than 50% of the current in-service fleet of 14,025. These new vehicles have a capital cost of more than £13 billion, and around 50% will be built in Britain. The average age of the national fleet is estimated to fall from 21 years to 15 years by March 2021, while the numbers of vehicles in service will grow by 6% next year and by a further 5% to 13% by 2024″
For you edification, The Rail Delivery Group ‘is formed of representatives from rolling stock owners, train operators, Rail Delivery Group and infrastructure owner Network Rail, and endeavours to provide an up-to-date, balanced and well-informed perspective on the long term outlook for passenger rolling stock in the UK.’
The Rolling Stock Strategy report is over 50 pages, densely packed with a situation analysis, tables, and conclusions. In the report there are a few of things of interest,
- In paragraph 90 of the report states – Beyond the commercial risks and issues arising from the displacement, there are also a number of operational issues the industry must address and manage, including: Storage: To place c.4000 displaced vehicles in storage would require over 52 miles of storage sidings – a resource no longer available on the UK network. Owners will manage the handling of their vehicles once they come off lease, but this figure gives scope to just one facet of that task. It is clear that owners will need to balance options including disposal, sale or storage in accordance with their business plans, but there are significant logistical as well as commercial challenges.
- Electrifying the whole rail network is not now considered an aim in England and Wales, see para 51.
- In paras 67 and 68 the report discusses alternative power options coming from hydrogen cells, batteries, and bi-mode operation [electric and diesel engines].
- All British Rail rolling stock will be superceded within two years.
- There’s a move to having self powered rolling stock rather than having engines.
So, all in all, the scene for the UK rail industry is positive, as long as the train operators can sort out timetabling issues.