British Rail Class 143 - Operations - North East

North East

The class was based at Heaton depot (Newcastle) from new, for use in the North East of England on services based around Newcastle, Darlington and Middlesbrough. Of the original twenty-five units built, 143001-019 were supplied in Provincial railbus-style two-tone blue livery, and 143020-025 were supplied in Tyne & Wear PTE yellow+white livery.

As with the similar Class 142 units, problems soon emerged with the SCG mechanical transmission, resulting in poor availability, and frequent loco-hauled substitutions by Classes 47 / 31 on local services to Middlesbrough / Carlisle, especially in 1987, continuing to a lesser extent in 1988 and 1989, as the units were progressively fitted with the more robust Voith hydraulic transmissions. Improved availability of the units - coupled with the influx of several former West Country Class 142 units - enabled the Class 101s to be eliminated from Heaton depot in 1989... meanwhile the loco-hauled substitutions also dwindled to typically one set diagram per day, finally ending altogether in Summer 1990, by which time the Pacers had generally settled down to give more acceptable reliability.

During the problems, a total of four original formations were split, and reformed to make operational DMS-DMS(L) sets, in a bid to alleviate the acute DMU shortage in the region. First to be split were 143002 and 143010, and cars 55643+55676 actually carried unit no. 143026 for a time in 1988. However, the pair was later renumbered 143010. The other cars 55651+55668 appeared later in 1988, with 55651 having a large white number 2 - meant for coach sides - crudely placed across the black 10 of its original unit number, only rectified upon later renumbering to 143602...

In 1989, Heaton depot implemented a unit renumbering scheme, whereby those with original SCG mechanical transmission would be renumbered 1433XX, and those that had undergone conversion to Voith hydraulic transmission would be renumbered 1436XX. By this time, many units had already received Voith transmission, so were renumbered directly from 1430XX to 1436XX. Only the T&WPTE-sponsored units - which received Voith transmission later on - actually carried the 1433XX series, renumbered to 1436XX when they were eventually converted.

143003 had spent a lengthy spell out of action with fire damage, then in Summer 1989, car 55644 from it was paired with 55683 (ex-143617), and both given the unit number 143617. The other cars 55658+55669 re-appeared later that Summer, both carrying unit number 143603. These reformations were never reversed to original formations, thus 143602, 143603, 143610 and 143617 remained mis-formed ever since.

143025 did carry the name of 'River Tyne' for sometime when it was based in the North East

Read more about this topic:  British Rail Class 143, Operations

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