Posted: Sun 2nd Apr 2023

Are we about to see the much delayed Class 230 train enter service on the Wrexham – Bidston line?

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Apr 2nd, 2023

There could be an interesting development for commuters who use the Wrexham to Bidston line following weeks of disruption. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Transport for Wales (TfW) has said – via a tweet – that it aims to have a Class 230 train in service on the line tomorrow, Monday April 3. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

If it happens, the move will signal a new era of rail travel on the Borderlands Line with the long-awaited introduction of a Class 230, more than three years after it was originally promised. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

In recent weeks rail passengers in Flintshire wanting to travel between Wrexham or the Wirral have had to endure an inconvenient and slow bus replacement service that takes twice as long as trains. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The trains that usually run on the Borderlands Line have been withdrawn and sent to service other lines outside of the region. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

This is because many TfW Class 175 trains have been taken out of service across the Wales and Borders network following a spate of fires that plagued the trains. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

TfW said that maintenance checks have found that some of the trains need further repairs to the engines before they come back into passenger service. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

As a result, disruption to passenger services is likely to continue into early April. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

TfWs customer service team has been a fielding streams of questions from commuters regarding the status of trains and replacement buses for the Wrexham to Wirral line, which services multiple stations in Flintshire, including Shotton, Hawarden, and Buckley. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

One Twitter user, @Tom93019215, tweeted TfW saying, “Any ideas when trains will resume on Bidston to Wrexham? It’s been 4 weeks now, why not hire trains of Northern like you have in the past? North Wales is forgotten about again! And what about your new trains sat at Birkenhead depot? They’ve been sat there for 2 years.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​


In reply, ^Anna from @TFWrail said: “Hi Tom, the 230s are entering service imminently. From Monday, the aim is to introduce a 2 hourly timetable in addition to the bus plan.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Another Twitter user asked TfW to confirm the revelation that the Class 230 would be entering service for the first time on Monday. Transport for Wales did not respond to the tweet. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

TfW owns five hybrid diesel/battery Class 230 trains, which use the bogies and aluminium bodyshells of withdrawn London Underground trains. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

They were originally fitted with Ford Transit van engines, these have since been upgraded. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

They were intended to come into service in 2019, but TfW only took delivery of units from Vivarail in July 2020. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​


Staff training requirements were hampered by the pandemic, leading to further delays. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Other delays have been caused by what TfW called “thermal incidents”, which included a small fire on one of the units due to overheating batteries. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Vivarail then went into administration, causing a further headache for TfW. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

According to timetables for Monday, a rail replacement bus service will still be running. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

In a post on its Facebook page, the Wrexham Bidston Rail User Association said, “TfW aims to have a Class 230 in service tomorrow to provide a 2 hourly service. Check before you travel.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ asked TfW’s ^Anna to confirm the introduction of the Class 230 train on Monday, as referred to by the press office. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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