29 Dec 2011

Bombardier awarded Electrostar order

The good news for Derby is that Bombardier has been awarded an order for 130 new Electrostar carriages for Southern. But what a pity that the opportunity was not taken to give these trains the design changes that would have made them so much better.

It is not that they are bad trains but there is plenty of room for improvement. It is unfortunate that design deficiencies are perpetuated over and over again instead of being dealt with through a programme of progressive development. This seems to be a British failing. We let ourselves down by not being sufficiently critical. Indeed, criticism is seen as disloyal and those who do it are regarded as whingers. It does not help the country's industrial performance.


  1. It is good news and there is the possibility of an eVoyager too http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/bombardier-wins-188m-trains-order-6282235.html though it's not clear that this would be built in the UK.

    But according to news reports the future of the Derby plant depends on it getting those contracts and the crossrail one too.

    That creates an unpleasant situation where the government is subject to something indistinguishable from blackmail regarding the Crossrail contract, UK jobs, and Bombardier. Given that Bombardier didn't win the Thameslink I wonder how they can get Crossrail? Maybe by reducing the profit they make on the deal?

    I'm reminded to quote "Yes Minister" and say it would a "brave" minister that doesn't award that one to Derby. That said Justine Greening does appear to have a bit of a "hundred yards stare" about her so maybe she will be the one to make it. I can only wish her well.

    I'm left wishing that someone would put the Derby plant out of it's misery - it's doesn't appear to be viable in the real world outside the walled garden of public contracts. This is a similar problem that which exists with UK train franchise holders - public for profit companies having risk removed by either government subsidy, or guaranteed government contract.

    The mystery here is the new Hitachi factory to be built in the north east - if the UK can't support one in Derby with full time work how is this going to survive.? I guess workers in Derby may be looking a migrating north in a few years??

  2. By the way you asked earlier about long trains and short platforms - I recently found out this is called "selective door operation" and there are several technologies that can be used including RFID (those things that stop people shoplifting etc http://www.railway-technology.com/contractors/vehicle/tagmaster-rfid/press15.html or using inductive loops http://www.hima-sella.co.uk/cgi-bin/scribe?showinfo=Tracklink-Selective-Door-Opening-SDO-Hima-Sella , or using GPS or wheel rotation integration measurements to measure distance.. http://www.hitachi.com/rev/archive/2010/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2010/04/22/r2010_01_109.pdf

    You can even "buy british" if you choose the Hima-Sella solution!

  3. Bit puzzled by the "Design" changes required. As a daily user of Southern's class 377's like most regular commuters I avoid the centre 3+2 carriages like the plague, but the 2+2 end carriages are brilliant.

    It is predictable that the new ones will be 3+2 as they are for Central London suburban services or even worse the pretend 2+2 like SWT and Thameslink Class 319's where the seats are as narrow as the 3+2 variety but there is a massive standing space in between.