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This topic contains 27 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  SimonS1 2 years, 9 months ago.

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    It seems Scotrail is changing hands and that Dutch State Railways are taking over, including the Caledonian sleeper. What amazes me in this whole process is that National Express were able to bid for the franchise. Given they had the East Coast Mainline and just walked away in breach of contract because they had overbid is wrong. They should be banned from bidding for other Franchises in my humble view.



    I admit to being a wee bit anxious about the news, as someone who uses Scotrail regularly, its not the worst service I’ve encountered . But is good enough, good enough.

    So, if Abellio deliver halve of what they promise, then good riddance to First.

    See below for their bid highlights…..

    Interestingly, could this be another political football, as the No campaign promised public railways under promised new devolved powers?
    I notice they also operate Northern Rail, so my optimism is severely dented already !



    What is also buried within the release is the fact that the new ScotRail will be using over 25 refurbished HSTs on most main routes …. but passengers are going to have to wait another five years for these elderly trainsets.

    So how old will the HSTs be then ? 40 years ?



    This could be interesting, the blurb on the link above does look promising; improved customer service training; proper first class service for business people; realistic fares ( if you ever get them).

    Given the slating First Scotrail have taken in this forum for poor customer service, trains etc it might get better.

    That said, I take it that is is the JV between Serco-Abellio, the same company that run the DLR and two of the worst UK train companies, in terms of crap rolling stock at Merseyrail and Northern. Maybe we should watch what we hope for.




    The HST’s might be old but they are still the best trainsets in the country in terms of ride quality and quietness. Nothing built since has got to the standard of HST Mark 3 coaches. All the Voyagers / DMU sets are ghastly – so much nosier and more vibrations as engines are under the floorboards. Pendolino’s are not as good either and Mark 4’s on ECML are close in quality – but many don’t find them quite as good as a Mark 3.

    So yep – I’d bite your hand off for a 40 year old refurbished Mark 3 with an HST on front & back!



    Point taken, Tim.

    But the fact is there is only so much you can do to a 40-year old trainset.

    Yes HSTs are quieter than new trainsets but they also have a rougher sometimes jerkier ride, slam doors and, perhaps worst, they have no toilet retention facilites.

    To meet modern conditions, the latter will have to be fitted when the trains are, yet again, refurbished. It is possible but this wasn’t made clear in the press release.



    I like the concept of “toilet retention facilites”.

    Can I get them fitted to my elderly patients?



    Am I correct in assuming the trains you’re talking about are the ones that East Coast uses on the Kings Cross to Aberdeen service. And is there a difference between the X Country trains and the East Coast ones I mentioned.
    I try and avoid the X Country trains and my heart sinks when a non-electric East Coast train pulls up.



    Hi Canucklad

    The HST’s operate some of the ECML trains (are not Electric – Electric are Mark 4) – HST are Mark 3 and operate Aberdeen / Inverness / Harrogate and a few other services. They operate the odd Cross Country service (I think XC have 5 or 6 HST sets) – though most Cross Country are Class 220/221 voyagers and are to be avoided where possible!

    Having done EDI last week for Ryder Cup on both train sets I prefer the HST over the Electric (in First) but both are very good. But down to personal preference. Having done HST on FGW in 1st to Cornwall last month, whilst ride was good the refurbishment and seating is terrible. The HST on MML to Nottingham are good as well – you want that over the Voyager units on the slow Nottingham services, or the Corby or Sheffield services. A refurbished HST over a class 170 that Scotrail currently has (or 158) – then no contest!

    Yes – they will need retention tanks adding and I think better access for disable people – I think some legislation advises that all trains must be modified in a certain way if they are not already compliant by 2020 for access. I’m a bit vague – I’d have to dig out details as to what exactly this encompasses.



    Canucklad – I would agree with what Tim has to say.

    The East Coast HSTs operate over the non-electrified routes (that would include Inverness as well as Aberdeen) plus a few services over the electified network. For example, they operate the odd service to Edinburgh or Leeds.

    Cross Country used to operate HSTs in the days when Virgin held the franchise but the new franchisee has replaced them with newer Voyagers



    Not sure I really agree Alex. The bodies may be 35 years old but in many cases been completely stripped down to the shell and rebuilt so are in excellent condition. Old does not necessarily means shabby.

    MrMichael – interesting about National Express. Not sure their chances of winning anything are very high. Probably a waste of money tendering.



    Simon – HSTs are not too bad inside. It’s the little things (which the average passenger notices) like the old slam doors and ancient toilets which give the game away as to their age.

    A few years ago when I travelled on a pre-refurbished EMT HST a fellow passenger remarked that we (the passengers) were back in the British Rail era !



    Re the HST v MK4 electric debate on the ECML, I prefer the newer electrics but always go for the centre of the coach. Sitting over the bogies seem to give a much bumpier ride – state of the track bed??. Also the middle of the coach has a few 1-1 across seats instead of the 1-2 towards the ends.



    Cross Country do operate HSTs on their longer routes. I’ve travelled on it a few times.

    The HST is a real success as a train and has been the mainstay of my long distance rail travel ever since I first boarded one in Newcastle in 1979. What I find most interesting is that it came about as a competition between two different engineering teams, one for the APT and the other for the HST. APT was the favoured option but didn’t work so HST became the mainstay. Ironic that the pinnacle of a nationalised industry should have generated a success story through the use of competition!

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