Angel Trains has signed a contract with
Bombardier Transportation for the re-traction of a Class 317 unit,
to develop the fleet as a viable, reliable, economical and
long-term alternative to new trains.

As part of the company’s focus on continuing
its service operation, reducing costs and improving reliability and
passengers’ experience, Angel has invested £6m in the re-traction
of a pre-series unit. The work will take place at the same time as
a £1m interior refurbishment of two vehicles within the unit.

The traction trial will see 317 722 fitted
with a new traction package, looking at improving reliability,
reducing maintenance and enabling regenerative braking, thereby
increasing energy efficiency.

Angel Trains’ chief operating officer Kevin
Tribley said: “This is a great opportunity to prove the benefits of
investment in existing stock. We’ve been considering this project
for a while as part of our commitment to investing in our assets
and when the 317/7s came off lease we decided to accelerate the
trial.

“This is all about improving the fleet in
terms of its reliability and efficiency as well as lowering
maintenance costs and therefore, the overall costs of running stock
to operators and owners – increasing value for money.

“Bombardier has unrivalled knowledge of Class
317 units – it is currently undertaking the C4 and C6 heavy
maintenance exams and recently took over the current traction motor
overhaul contract.”

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By GlobalData

Bombardier’s propulsion and controls business
unit in Sweden will design the new traction unit, with Bombardier
Transportation UK Limited undertaking the integration, installation
and testing. 

“This collaborative project with Angel Trains
shows our important role in the UK services market,” said Paul
Roberts, chief country representative UK for Bombardier
Transportation. “We support four out of every 10 trains operating
in the UK today, from 31 locations across the country. The new
traction system will dramatically increase reliability and improve
energy efficiency.”

As well as the traction project, two units
will undergo a £1m interior refurbishment to create a Metro style
layout. Following discussions with train operators and
Passenger Focus, Angel Trains has decided to invest in the new
layout to provide a direct contrast to the current inner suburban
3+2 seating layout and outer suburban 2+2 seating layout. 

The new layout will be tested on the UK
network from November 2013 to March 2014, followed by up to six
months of passenger service operation.

If successful, a full fleet fit out could be
completed by the end of 2017 with UK electrification schemes
opening up other opportunities for the 317s.