Electric conversion plan for fleet of diesel trains

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INNOVATIVE plans to convert a fleet of inter-city trains running through South Yorkshire to run on electric as well as diesel power and add extra carriages have taken a step forward.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening has said she is ‘enthusiastic’ about proceeding with the £127 million eVoyager project, which would involve the Voyager trains providing the bulk of Cross Country services through Sheffield and Doncaster.

Under the scheme, the fleet of 57 four- and five-coach diesel-powered trains would receive an additional carriage fitted with a pantograph device to pick up power from overhead wires where lines are electrified.

The scheme would enable smoother, quieter journeys on electrified sections of route and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the trains.

It would also provide extra seats on services which are often severely overcrowded.

Mrs Greening said: “I am enthusiastic about proceeding with the project, subject to ensuring taxpayer value.

“I’ve instructed my officials to work with parties involved so that technical and business case work can be completed as soon as possible and a firm decision can be made about the project.”

The Department for Transport has decided the eVoyager scheme is a ‘viable proposition’.

Mrs Greening added: “The eVoyager seeks to combine the efficiency and comfort of an electric train with the flexibility of diesel, which could prove to be of real benefit for the Cross Country franchise and a boon for passengers.”

A decision on whether the work will go ahead is expected early in the New Year.

Cross Country runs inter-city trains between Scotland and the North East, through Doncaster and Sheffield, to Brimingham, the South West and South Coast.

If successful, a similar conversion could also take place on East Midlands Trains’ fleet of Meridian trains used on the majority of Sheffield to London trains, which are similar to the Voyagers. It would allow the Midland Main Line to be electrified in phases.