ROLLING stock leasing company HSBC Rail confirmed on February 14 that it is to buy 127 diesel-electric multiple-unit vehicles from Bombardier. They will be leased by UK operator Midland Main Line, under a two-year franchise extension to 2008. Capital value is £154m, and the spares and maintenance provision for the four-year lease is worth £71m.
Designated Class 222, the 200 km/h DEMUs are a development of the Class 220 Voyager units for Virgin CrossCountry. The fleet will be formed as 16 four-car and 7 nine-car units and will be branded Meridian. Delivery will run from the second quarter of 2004 to the end of that year. A four-car set will have 50 first and 126 standard seats, with 109 first and 382 standard in the nine-car version.