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Author Topic: Turbos - cascade and refurbishment - (Four across now!?)  (Read 627 times)
eightonedee
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« on: December 05, 2018, 10:04:36 pm »

These trains will soon be the common workhorse for non-high speed passenger services throughout the GW system. As the most numerous "real" DMU what happens to them and how they are used will have a considerable impact on the journeys of many of the commuters among us, I thought there really ought to be a thread devoted to them here.

So here goes-

1  - First question - are they actually worn out already? Although other types are a little older, they have had a quarter of a century's hard use on the London & Thames Valley trains (described as "the most intensively worked diesel service in Europe" in the run up to electrification). I am surprised that there are usually at least 3 or 4 in Reading depot when I pass at peak rush hour in the morning - does this indicate reliability problems? In a few years' time they will be as old as the Pressed Steels were when they were replaced.

2 - Deployment - here I do not understand what GW has in mind. I appreciate that part cancellation/delay of electrification will have disrupted any orderly cascade plans but a lot of what has been done seems to have been without great thought of the poor old passenger.

When originally deployed there was a clear role for each type. The 165s were high density, shorter distance trains, the Turbo express 166s were clearly designed for longer trips, with aircon (OK - not very reliable!), a 4 across section in the centre coach with tables, and plenty of luggage space. Understandably, they were the usual stock for the Gatwicks, Herefords, Stratfords etc.

The 166s have suffered with recent refitting - much of the standard class 4 across seating in the centre coach has been sacrificed for disabled spaces, and inexplicably the tables have been removed from the remainder, but they still have the luggage space and extra 4 across seating in the downgraded ex-first class section at one end. However for the last two years or more the two types have been mixed up - so holidaymakers arriving at Gatwick find a three car 165 with almost no luggage space and have to find whatever space they can for there bags and cases (gangway, vestibule, other seats), blocking the way for others and causing inconvenience for us commuters joining on the way back to Reading. Yet on the other hand I see that 166s were the first units cascaded to the Severn Beach line - no offence, west Bristol commuters - but why? I imagine you cannot even get a first class ticket on the line, and the luggage spaces are no use to commuters (unless Bristolians carry a fortnights worth of clothes with them to and from work, and bring souvenirs from Temple Meads back home every evening)!  They manged before to allocate 166s and 165s generally to services for which they were suited, so why not continue to do so?

On the other hand there has been understandable concern that Turbos are displacing 158s on the longer services - see our thread on Cardiff to Portsmouth. Again - why? They are clearly less suitable, and if I have understood correctly the 158s will be going to short distance commuter routes. This is clearly daft. The 165 turbos should replace Pacers on branch services, and any 150s with 5 across seating (are any left?) If anything, they should be freeing up any 158s or refitted 150s with 4 across for the longer distance services.

3 - Refurbishment - here the ramshackle nature of the exercise is surprising. Almost all now seem to have "gone green" apart from a few of the 166s that were the earliest refitted for current disability standards. At least the external paint job looks well done, a big improvement on the faded FGW blue with jazzy pink line they were before.

As mentioned above, some aspects of the 166 refresh are counterproductive, but it's a shame the rumoured of 4 across seating has not materialised.

The work on the 165s seems random and haphazard. Almost all now have disabled toilets and power points, although I travelled on one last week with neither, and its old-style loo locked out of use. Many are still in an appalling state internally, with soiled and damaged carpet in the first class section, faded seat covers and internal side panels damaged or mis-aligned (even where they have clearly been removed and reinstalled for power points). Where the former first class cab ends in the two car units have been refitted with standard class seats it seems that they have simply been removed from elsewhere without any maintenance or substantial repair or cleaning of the metal frame and bolted in. At least they seem to have used shiny new bolts, and someone has found an unused roll of FGW lino to replace the time expired carpet (but see below!)

Air conditioning/air cooling has been applied to some, not others, even 2 car units that have had the bike and luggage rack installed and removal of first class seating applied. Some air cooled units have "lock shut" gutter windows applied, others not.

The luggage provision is a mystery. Why has half the seating in almost half of the old standard cab end of 2 car units been replaced with a large rack, and further luggage racks installed, yet there's no additional luggage space in the 3 car units? As mentioned elsewhere, there has also been the thoughtless decision to put the luggage/cycle rack in the old standard class end of the 2 car units with full fenestration, but the refitted ex-first class end now has a row of five across seating with no window.

Then there is the interior colour scheme. There was a 166 redone in early GWR "show all the stains" grey and green, but I haven't seen this in our part of the world for a while - presumably it's now plying its trade around Bristol. Despite the nicely refitted 150 and 158 I encountered in Devon and Cornwall last month (I never used to notice or care about interior design...), all the work on the interior of units has been in the old FGW blue/mauve/pink colour scheme - the new luggage racks in the 2 car units, the new disabled toilets, and replacement internal panels in the refitted ex-first sections are all in the old colours. However I noticed one apparently recently refitted ex-first class end of a 2 car unit had charcoal with white flecked lino under its relocated faded blue seats!

Much to my surprise, on Monday evening I noticed that the first class end of the 3 car 165 I was in (on a no first class ticket service) had newly reupholstered first class seats with repaired seat arms and a new piece of old-style FGW carpet on the floor. Does this mean that GW has decided not to change the colour scheme? "We offer a heritage First Group experience on the Turbo trains we have introduced onto your service...."

Is all this indicative of cost cutting? I would have thought a more organised refit with units being done thoroughly (toilets, air cooling, flooring, seat re-arrangement, power points and new livery) at one go would be more efficient and cost-effective. Furthermore, doesn't the lease agreement require units to be kept to a consistent standard throughout while on lease? How do Angel feel about the way their assets are being refurbished?

Thoughts please!



 
« Last Edit: December 05, 2018, 10:22:04 pm by eightonedee » Logged
Red Squirrel
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2018, 10:29:31 pm »

...I see that 166s were the first units cascaded to the Severn Beach line - no offence, west Bristol commuters - but why? I imagine you cannot even get a first class ticket on the line, and the luggage spaces are no use to commuters (unless Bristolians carry a fortnights worth of clothes with them to and from work, and bring souvenirs from Temple Meads back home every evening)! 

Indeed, the Severn Riviera Express is strictly third class only. However the luggage space does come in handy for the electric scooters, hoverboards, skateboards and bicycles (folding or otherwise) that are absolutely de rigeur in Bristol West...

From my own viewpoint, the 166s have been a mixed blessing - the extra capacity is certainly welcome, but they just seem... slower. 
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ellendune
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2018, 10:32:30 pm »

From my own viewpoint, the 166s have been a mixed blessing - the extra capacity is certainly welcome, but they just seem... slower. 

Perhaps it was the removal of the pink go faster stripes from the old FGW livery Smiley
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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2018, 12:00:51 am »

I would suspect they are not worn out - but they are being moved from an operating pool that's been in (almost) full use just in the peaks - with service time for some of the fleet during the day - to services / duties that are much more intensive.  That's because the commuters in the Bristol area haven't been given the train capacities matched to requirements at different times of day, whereas the London commuters have to a better degree.  Add to that they're being maintained by a different team who are excellent - but learning into different trains and not yet up to speed.

However - I also think (am told) that with all the delays and lessening of the cascades are causing such issues that the priority is being able to provide a train, followed by enough carriages, and having something appropriate is a bit of a bonus.  Mind you, there's a convenience in that explanation that it lets trains be supplied at the lowest (and cheapest) common denominator, and I wouldn't like to be definitive of how much that convenience is being made use of.   I do know that my latest Weymouth trip, returning on a rather crowded 3+2, felt like an interminable and uncomfortable drag and not a pleasure / leisure trip.  No objection to 2 car 3+2 on TransWilts for the next year or so ... step up to 3 car from May 2020 please as we'll be at bursting point again, but for trips over an hour, please, wrong internal layout.
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didcotdean
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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2018, 10:18:33 am »

My view is that there is almost certainly a serviceable train for a decade or so at the heart of the Turbos if you can find it, but this is well-hidden by the worn-out grotty interiors, and the refurbs as far as they went fell short of a full mid-life facelift being more targeted at meeting the minimum to meet requirements for accessible toilets etc. There are decent enough arguments against them not being the best suitable for Cardiff to Portsmouth, but they applied equally to Paddington to Great Malvern.

FGW/GWR was never that good at keeping the 165s and 166s onto their most appropriate routes; back in the day Thames Trains managed that better if not perfectly, but probably at a time where there was a lot less pressure.

I do recall though the shocked GWR faces at the Customer Panel meeting where a succession of people vilified the turbos that have needed to be retained for Oxford-Didcot as inadequate junk they had been promised for years they would see the back of and that they had been badly let down by them continuing indefinitely. I don't think they realised how bad their reputation had become.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 01:18:37 pm by didcotdean » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2018, 09:07:36 pm »

The 165/6 have been a very good work horse in the Thames Valley for close on 30 years, they worked quite punishing diagrams and Reading Depot kept the unit availability extremely high.  They are certainly not worn out but they would not be able to keep pace when interleaved with the Crossrail services.

The interiors did suffer mainly due to the diagramming of the units in the Thames Valley, taking one unit out for a heavy overhaul placed a lot of strain on the service.
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2018, 11:42:38 am »

The 165/6 have been a very good work horse in the Thames Valley for close on 30 years, they worked quite punishing diagrams and Reading Depot kept the unit availability extremely high.  They are certainly not worn out but they would not be able to keep pace when interleaved with the Crossrail services.

The interiors did suffer mainly due to the diagramming of the units in the Thames Valley, taking one unit out for a heavy overhaul placed a lot of strain on the service.

Now we seem to of ended up with some of them, on the Great Malvern to Weymouth and from Cheltenham to Swindon services.
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« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2018, 08:59:23 am »

 The chopping and changing means I get confused by whether First Class is declassified or not. It appears a bit random. On the train this morning people were standing rather than sit in the first class area mainly based on the presence of antimacassars.
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