Much delayed Class 230 train enters passenger service on Wrexham – Bidston line for first time
A new era of rail travel has quietly begun on the Wrexham to Bidston line today.
Transport for Wales (TfW) has run its first service for fare paying passengers using its ‘new’ Class 230 trains which were purchased for the line in 2019.
The Class 230 train will be the first battery-hybrid trains to be used in regular passenger service in Wales.
The first service left Wrexham at 7.31 this morning arriving at Shotton at 8.05am.
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The trains that usually run on the Borderlands Line have been withdrawn and sent to service other lines outside of the region.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.
TfW owns five hybrid diesel/battery Class 230 trains, which use the bogies and aluminium bodyshells of withdrawn London Underground trains.
They were initially fitted with Ford Duratorq engine commonly used in the Transit Van however they have since been upgraded.
Each of the Class 230 trains having over 120 seats and with capacity for over 420 passengers – a significant increase over previous trains.
With fully accessible toilets, power sockets, electronic passenger information, Wi-Fi, bike racks and air conditioning, the trains are a significant milestone for TfW.
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.
Following a period of fault free testing TfW has finally decided to run the Class 230 passenger service on the Borderlands Line.
Initially it will be a 2 hourly service with rail replacement buses filling in the gaps.
Alexia Course, Transport for Wales’ Chief Commercial Officer, said:
“We’re delighted that the first Class 230 train has entered service.”
“With hybrid engines and modern facilities, these trains will significantly improve the customer experience on the Borderlands Line by providing better facilities and increased capacity.”
“We’re committed to improving services between North Wales and the Liverpool City Region.”
“We’ve already introduced brand new trains on services between Chester and Liverpool, and we’re planning to increase the frequency of services between Wrexham and Bidston, as well as providing a new direct service between Llandudno and Liverpool via the North Wales coast.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com