Letter to The Editor
I have today received the latest edition of the Far North Express (Issue 56) and took particular interest in the article titled "Future Rolling Stock Policy in Scotland".
In it the article referred to the Class 170s having doors at one-third and two-thirds along the unit and as such the doors open directly into the saloon unlike the Class 158 units. The Anglia 170s (the three-car versions) that entered service on the Norwich to London Mainline around 1999 - 2000 had internal doors fitted to separate First Class from Standard Class. When these Class 170s were re-configured internally to increase Standard Class seating capacity by removing First Class seating back in 2004, the internal doors remained (and from memory remain to this day); thus the external weather was able to be kept outside and the warmth on the train. Therefore, I am wondering whether similar doors could be fitted to all the seating areas.
Secondly, the HSTs that would be displaced by the proposed arrival of IEP on East Coast and Great Western I believe would be better used by the Cross-Country franchise for the South West to North East services, including to Edinburgh and perhaps Aberdeen, rather than on dedicated Edinburgh/Glasgow to Inverness services. This would displace Class 220/221 Voyagers for strengthening and perhaps widening the scope of the Cross-Country franchise to include the Birmingham to Scotland and Manchester to Scotland via the West Coast Mainline. Indeed the article titled "The New Highland Main Line Timetable and the Future" suggests bringing back the Clansman for a direct service to West Coast Mainline stations north of Birmingham from Inverness and a pair of Voyagers could be split/join at Carstairs with one portion for Glasgow and the other for Inverness (via Coatbridge). Additionally Voyagers operating the Clansman would reduce platform difficulties at Inverness due to their shorter length over HSTs. There will be crewing difficulties with this train, however, compared to when it ran in BR days.
This leads to my third point. I cannot see how there can be a Future Rolling Stock policy without involving England and Wales as well as Scotland. Whilst HSTs and Mark IIIs may be seen an improvement in some quarters for services on the Highland Mainline, I believe they will better suited on Cross-Country Routes. I also feel the Class 158s will remain in service beyond 2020, despite their age, as I feel the 2014 to 2019 Control Period will be a lean time for the railways in terms of spending and, with current strategy favouring electrification feeding into this, this I believe is where the money will go and as such Rolling Stock spending will be for electric stock, but of course capacity of stock still counts whether the stock is five years or 35 years old, diesel or electric.