Transport for Wales
Class 197 final fleet
The Class 197 trains, built for Transport for Wales by Spanish firm Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles, S.A. (CAF), partly at a new factory in South Wales. The fleet (when complete) will comprise 51 two-car units (197 001 - 197 051) and 26 three-car units. They are part of CAF's 'Civity UK' range of products.
197s feature lightweight aluminium construction, the body shells being imported to the Newport works from spain. Each car is powered by a Rolls-Royce/MTU series 1800 power pack incorporating a Euro Stage V compliant 6H R85L turbocharged diesel engine rated at 390 kW (523 HP) or from another source 375 kW/503 HP , either way slightly more than the 340 kW (450 hp) than the class 175 units they are replacing. Like the 175, Maximum speed is 100 mph.
The engine is coupled to a ZF Ecolife Hydro-mechanical transmission driving one of the two bogies. Braking is by disk brakes on the inside-framed bogie, controlled by Knorr Bremse 'mechatronic' intelligent braking system, augmented by a hydrodynamic retarder in the transmission. (the 175s had this feature, which caused problems in their early days.) The driving cars are 24.03 metres long, the intermediate car in their 3-car sets are slightly shorter at 23.35 metres. Dellner couplings for multiple working are situated on the ends of each set; they will only couple to other 197s.
The livery is a simplified version compared to other TfW classes which have a black surround to the windows.
Ordered by former franchise holders Keolis-Amey, they 197s are designed for use on TfW's long-distance services replacing the British Rail-built 158s and the Metro-Cammell 175s (the latter only entered service in 2000), and on some local stopping services such as the Conwy Valley line. The layout of the cars provides passenger doors at one-third and two-thirds along the body shell, contrary to previous practice for long-distance trains which provides doors at each end of the car. Although possibly controversial - TransPennine have chosen end doors for their new stock - this will help with passenger flow at busy stations, such as platforms 13/14 at Manchester Piccadilly.
The first completed unit, 197 001, was delivered to the Arriva Traincare depot in Crewe for commissioning in April 2021, and further units were delivered over the next two years; by the start of 2023 a number were held in a storage facility at Donnington, it was estimated that around half the total fleet had been built although less than ten were in passenger service.
The 197 is fundamentally similar to the CAF units of Northern (195) and West Midlands Railway (196) stock. Connecting doors are fitted at the cab end for the driving controls, and doing nothing for the appearance when compared to Northern's 195s. However it is planned that the 2-car sets will often be used in pairs.
Introducing new trains is a slow process; each one has to run a specific number of miles before the company can accept it, and a very large number of drivers need to receive training. The pandemic made this difficult as training involves two people being in the cab. 197s running empty were were common sight on the North Wales through 2021 and 2022, and in July 2002 TfW held a static viewing for invited guests (not including NWRail!) at Chester station.
On 14 November 2022 197 004 became the first 197 in passenger traffic, working the Llandudno - Blaenau Ffestiniog service. Shortly afterwards 197s appeared on the Chester - Liverpool and Llandudno - Manchester Airport services.
Passenger facilities include: 116 seats in 2+2 format in a 2-car set and 188 in the 3-car set. Some of the 3-cars to be delivered last, 197 113-126, will have a first class section for use on the Manchester - South Wales service which they will share with first-class fitted loco-worked sets. This will reduce the capacity to 174 seats. All sets have a facility to store a refreshment trolley, and a cycle space which (unlike some new stock specified by the English Government) does not require cyclists to hand their bikes on a hook. All sets have places for two wheelchairs, and a disabled-friendly toilet; the 3-cars have an additional smaller toilet.
The comfort of the seats is, as always in these hard times, under scrutiny. The seats originally specified were the same as those in some new London-area trains which were disliked by passengers, so before production began the type of seat ordered was changed to one said to be more comfortable. Another concern is the possibly too-small amount of luggage space for trains which will serve an airport and holiday resorts. This is in fact an issue on all UK trains in recent times, as suitcases get larger and larger. It's likely that the wheelchair and cycle spaces will be blocked by luggage on many services.
197s will replace the Class 158 units currently used on the Cambrian lines, which operate on the ERTMS signalling system, and 20 2-car sets, 197 003 was the testing prototype of the necessary equipment, and is based at Machynlleth depot. A further 19 sets, 197 022 to 041 will be delivered later. These units will remain compatible with the other 197s on the non-ERTMS network.
Compiled by Charlie Hulme, with thanks to many other sites. Comments welcome.