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|British Rail Class 156 Super Sprinter|
Interior of Greater Anglia refurbished Class 156
|In service||1988 – present|
|Built at||Washwood Heath|
|Replaced||First generation DMUs|
|Number built||114 sets (228 carriages)|
|Number in service||114 sets|
|Car body construction||Steel|
|Car length||23.03 m (75 ft 7 in)|
|Width||2.73 m (8 ft 11 in)|
|Height||3.81 m (12 ft 6 in)|
|Floor height||1.14 m (3 ft 9 in)|
|Doors||Single leaf sliding|
|Wheelbase||16 m (52 ft 6 in) (bogie centres)|
|Maximum speed||75 mph (121 km/h)|
|Prime mover(s)||1 × Cummins NT855-R5 Diesel (per car)|
|Power output||570 hp (430 kW)|
|Train heating||Hot air from single heat exchanger|
|Multiple working||Classes 14x, 15x, 17x|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
The British Rail Class 156 Super Sprinter is a diesel multiple unit train. A total of 114 sets were built between 1987 and 1989 for British Rail by Metro-Cammell's Washwood Heath works. They were built to replace elderly first-generation DMUs and locomotive-hauled passenger trains.
The design of the Class 156 was more conservative than Metro-Cammell's earlier Class 151 design. The bodyshell was made of steel instead of aluminium, and the cab design was deliberately similar to the Class 150 to ease union acceptance.
Construction of the welded bodyshells was subcontracted out with Procor Engineering, Wakefield completing 118, WH Davis 60 and Standard Wagon 50. Aston Martin Tickford were awarded the interior fitout contract. The units were all built as two-car sets, numbered 156401-514. Each unit was formed of two driving motors, one of which contained a toilet. Individual carriages numbered as follows:
The vehicles are powered by 6-cylinder Cummins NT855-R5 diesel engines through Voith T211r hydraulic automatic transmissions and Gmeinder final drive units. They have a top speed of 75 mph (121 km/h).
Unlike the Class 150 units, the 156s have a single-leaf sliding door at either end of each coach. This reflected the expected longer journeys with fewer stops that the Class 156 was supposed to operate. As with the Class 150, all the doors are operable by passengers when released by the guard using one of two passenger door control panels; they are energised using a carriage key to turn a rotary switch situated on the cab bulkhead. Units operated by Abellio ScotRail have additionally been fitted with door-control panels near the centre sets of doors for the convenience of the guard.
On 10 November 1987, 156401 conducted its first test run from Washwood Heath to Banbury. Between January and July 1988, 156401-156429 were delivered to Crown Point depot entering service on 16 May 1988 on new services from East Anglia to North West England as well as existing services from Norwich and Cambridge to Birmingham. They also operated boat trains from Harwich to Blackpool and later Liverpool.
The remaining 85 were delivered to Heaton, Neville Hill, Haymarket and Inverness. With the Class 155 units withdrawn due to faulty door mechanisms, 25 were transferred to Cardiff from December 1988, with the last remaining until November 1989. In this guise they operated services as far south as Portsmouth. In May 1991, six were transferred from Crown Point to Derby Etches Park.
On 15 June 1989, 156502 was sent to the Netherlands as part of the Dutch Railways 150th celebrations. It returned on 10 July. On 21 October 1993, 156405 became the first Sprinter to accrue 1 million miles, whilst working the 10:10 Great Yarmouth to Norwich service.
The first 100 were painted in Provincial sector's livery of blue and beige with light blue stripe. Twenty units, (156401-419/422) based at Tyseley depot, were later repainted into Regional Railways Express livery after the rebranding of Provincial. The last fourteen units were operated by Strathclyde PTE, and carried an orange and black livery. Following the delivery of the Class 158s in the early 1990s, the 156s began to be cascaded to less important services.
In the early 1990s, British Rail was looking to save costs on rural routes, and decided that operating two-car trains was too expensive. The company planned to convert a number of Class 156 units into single-car vehicles, named as Class 152. In the event, the decision was taken to do this with the Class 155 instead.
At privatisation the Scottish fleet passed to the National Express owned ScotRail franchise, which used them until 2004 when the franchise was taken over by First ScotRail. All passed to Abellio ScotRail with the franchise in 2015. They operate both on short-distance commuter routes and on services of up to five and a half hours, such as Glasgow to Fort William and Mallaig.
Units 156500-514, were operated by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and originally wore its orange and black livery. This was replaced with a carmine and cream livery in 1997, that was also applied to another 14. All have since been repainted into ScotRail's standard Saltire livery.
Despite their past liveries, the former SPT units were not confined to any specific route and thus worked in tandem with the rest of the 156 fleet on other routes.
As of 2017, they regularly operate on the following routes:
They also make occasional appearances on the following routes worked mostly by other units:
In September 2008 Transport Scotland announced that all ScotRail trains (including those of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport) would be repainted in a new livery of blue with white saltire markings on the carriage ends. The first 156 was repainted in this livery by RailCare Springburn in February 2009.
In December 2014, 156478 was written off by Angel Trains and sold to Brodie Leasing after being damaged by floodwaters on the Glasgow South Western Line. Brodie Leasing repaired the unit and it returned to service with Abellio ScotRail in October 2016.
Having originally been based in the East Anglia region but later transferred away, in early 2005 they returned when One received nine from Central Trains in exchange for a similar number of Class 150s.
The units are used on the following local services:
All nine passed to Abellio Greater Anglia when it took over the Greater Anglia franchise in February 2012. Despite being overhauled by Railcare, Wolverton in 2012/13, including work to make them comply with disability legislation, all are scheduled to be replaced by Class 755s in 2020.
Following privatisation, both Arriva Trains Northern and First North Western operated Class 156s and implemented their own refurbishment programmes. The two fleets were united when Northern Rail took over both franchises in 2004.
Six former Arriva Trains Northern Class 156 units were transferred from Yorkshire to the North West by Merseyrail, to replace some Class 142s in the Merseyside area, after Class 158s were introduced in Yorkshire. The franchise's units, split between depots at Heaton and Allerton, operate as 'common user' on a day-to-day basis, and are liable to appear working well away from their supposed home depot's routes (the opposite of what used to happen under British Rail, when units rarely strayed from their home depot's locality). Within the Northern region, Class 156s are concentrated in the North-West and also the North-East, but are uncommon now in Yorkshire and Humberside, where Class 158s and other unit types are used instead.
In January 2015, Northern Rail began to hire 156s to First TransPennine Express to operate Manchester Airport to Blackpool North services. Northern Rail's fleet of 42 Class 156s passed to Arriva Rail North when the new franchise started on 1 April 2016. The 156s began to operate Manchester Airport to Barrow in Furness and Oxenholme to Windermere services from this date after they along with the Manchester Airport to Blackpool North services were transferred to the franchise.
In an attempt at fleet standardisation, preparations were made during 2003 to exchange all 20 Class 156s for an equal number of ScotRail Class 158s, with 156402 partially repainted in ScotRail colours in readiness when overhauled at Wabtec, Doncaster. The transfer did not proceed after the Scottish Government refused to sanction the move, and the rest of the fleet were reliveried into Central Trains' livery between 2003 and 2005.
At the end of the Central Trains franchise, the remaining eleven units were transferred to East Midlands Trains, who repainted the fleet during 2008 and then carried out a refurbishment program from autumn 2010 onwards. The refurbishment, carried out at Neville Hill depot, included interior refurbishment work, improvements to driving cabs and installation of CCTV. These trains are now used on slower medium-distance services such as Nottingham/Derby to Matlock, Nottingham to Skegness, Leicester to Lincoln and Nottingham to Worksop. In May 2011, four additional units were transferred from Northern Rail to allow Nottingham to Liverpool services to be strengthened.
|Class||Operator||No. Built||Year Built||Cars per Set||Unit nos.|
|Class 156||Abellio ScotRail||43||1987–89||2||156430–437, 156439, 156442, 156445–446, 156450, 156453, 156456–458, 156462, 156467, 156474,|
156476–478, 156492–495, 156499–514
|East Midlands Trains||15||156401, 156403–406, 156408, 156410–411, 156413–415, 156470, 156473, 156497–498|
|Greater Anglia||9||156402, 156407, 156409, 156412, 156416–156419, 156422|
|Northern||47||156420–421, 156423–429, 156438, 156440–441, 156443–444, 156447–449, 156451–452, 156454–455,|
156459–461, 156463–466, 156468–469, 156471–472, 156475, 156479–491, 156496
Some units have received names:
Refurbished interior of a Northern Spirit Class 156
Refurbished interior of an East Midlands Trains Class 156
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