Porterbrook and Northern to develop bimodal Class 319

Rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook and train operator Northern have teamed up to develop a bimodal Class 319 by spring 2018. Concept design work has now been completed, and Wabtec/Brush has initiated the detailed design phase.

The ‘Flex’ concept is to install diesel powered alternators under each driving-car trailer  to facilitate operation on non electrified lines. Shortage of DMUs and delays to the Trans Pennine electrification project are understood to be the main drivers behind the decision.

A spokesman for Porterbrook informed 21CR  that eight units are to be converted initially  for Northern. The powerplant  will be two MAN diesel engines generating 390kW (523hp) at 1800rpm, which will  add 5.5 tonnes to the motor alternator raft on each  driving vehicle.

The four-car dual-voltage EMUs were introduced nearly 30 years ago for cross-London Thameslink duties but they are being displaced by the new Siemens-built Class 700 trains. Twenty units were cascaded to  Northern in 2014-15.

The 319s can operate on third rail 750V DC or from overhead 25kV AC 50Hz.

Porterbrook says it has also received interest in the project from other TOCs and franchise bidders.


Northern is currently deploying Class 319s on the recently electrified  Liverpool and Manchester line. Diesel powered alternators will be fitted to the two driving trailers though the electric motor  unit is one of the intermediate cars.


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