British Rail Class 153 - Operations - Post Privatisation - South West England

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South West England

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First Great Western took over the Wessex Trains fleet upon the merger of the two franchises. Wessex Trains had, in turn, inherited its fleet of 13 units from its predecessor, Wales and West.

Units are used on local services in Cornwall, Devon, and around Bristol. They are also used on Bristol Temple Meads to Weymouth, Southampton, and Worcester services and Swindon via Melksham to Southampton service.

In mid-2004, Wessex Trains received a further two units from Central Trains (unit nos. 153329 and 153369) to allow it to lengthen some services.

Following the introduction of a new timetable on 12 December 2006, four units were taken off lease and stored at the former Alsthom works at Eastleigh. They were Nos. 153302, 153308, 153355 and 153374. This decision was criticised at the time by passengers, this was due to an increase in overcrowding on services in the West Country. After a period in storage these four units were pressed into service with East Midlands Trains.

On 9 December 2007, First Great Western received an additional Class 153 (number 153361) from Arriva Trains Wales bringing its total to 12. This unit arrived in the blue with gold star livery of former operator First North Western (still carried by the FGW Class 142s).

From late 2007, a refurbishment programme commenced to refurbish the 153 fleet. The trains have been externally reliveried in the 'Local Lines' livery (an adaptation of the 'Dynamic Lines' livery consisting of names of local places and attractions forming the lines) and the interiors have received the following improvements:

  • Installation of new carpet
  • Repainted dado side panels and wall ends
  • Refurbished toilet area with new flooring, wall coverings, toilet and sink basin
  • Installation of Richmond 'Navigator' high backed seats in the navy blue 'First Great Western' moquette. The earlier Wessex refurbished Class 153s No. 153329, 153369, and the ex-Arriva Trains Wales 153361 feature Chapman seating as per the FGW Class 150s.
  • Installation of brighter interior saloon lighting diffusers

This refurbishment programme was completed by early June 2008.

In 2011 fire damage on car No.52221 of Class 150/2 unit 150221 prompted No. 153369 to be temporarily joined up with surviving car 57221; the formation was renumbered 153399. This hybrid was disbanded when car No. 52221 had been repaired. The following year 153369 was volunteered for a hybrid set again and paired up with half of Central Trains-liveried 150202, creating a particularly odd-looking set which was again numbered 153399. The other half of 150202 was undergoing repairs for accident damage.

For Summer 2011, two LM Class 153s, 153325 & 153333,were been allocated to the South West for strengthening purposes, based at Exeter (EZ) depot for the duration. This allocation appears to have been made permanent and the units have remained in the area into 2012.

Read more about this topic:  British Rail Class 153, Operations, Post Privatisation

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