Testing of the first of 16 Class 333 electric multiple-units for British train operator Northern Spirit was due to begin last month, following the delivery of the unit to Neville Hill depot near Leeds (top) on March 11. The three-car EMUs were ordered by leasing company Angel Trains in April 1998 for £58·3m; Siemens Transportation Systems Ltd of Great Britain is the main contractor, with CAF of Spain responsible for mechanical equipment and final assembly.

Based on the Class 332 supplied by Siemens and CAF for the Heathrow Express airport shuttle, the Class 333 will be used on suburban services from Leeds to Bradford Forster Square, Ilkley and Skipton. Each unit has standard class seating for a total of 260 passengers in a 3+2 configuration. The two power cars have more powerful traction motors than Heathrow Express, giving a maximum acceleration of 0·9m/s2 for services with frequent stops.

Electrical equipment has been mostly supplied by Siemens plants in Erlangen and Nürnberg. The pantograph and transformer are located on the centre trailer, feeding three four-quadrant choppers on each power car. The choppers feed into a common DC link connected to two pulse-width modulated inverters; each inverter powers two totally-enclosed three-phase traction motors. The Class 333 is equipped for regenerative braking, and has the Sibas¨ 32 control system. Two 83 kVA IGBT converters installed beneath the trailer car provide auxiliary power at 400V AC for air-conditioning and other systems.

The Class 333 is fully compliant with Britain’s Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations, which stipulate the facilities that must by law be provided for disabled passengers. The twin-leaf electrically-actuated passenger doors open to provide a width of 1·2m for boarding, and closure is governed by an obstacle detection system. The centre trailer car has a fully-accessible toilet with two wheelchair spaces adjacent, and buttons to call for assistance have been provided. The inter-car doors are also fitted with an obstacle detection system, and audio and visual passenger information systems have been provided, in addition to destination displays on the car side.

Once the Railtrack safety approval process is complete, it is hoped that Class 333s will start carrying passengers in October. The full fleet should be in service by February 2001. Up to three units can operate in multiple, and it is proposed to add an additional trailer car (with 100 seats) to eight Class 333s using part of the £3·4m of Rail Passenger Partnership award made by the government to West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive in February.

Siemens Transportation Systems will be maintaining the fleet for Angel at Neville Hill, hiring in staff from Northern Spirit on a shift-by-shift basis. It is hoped the new trains will prove as reliable as the Heathrow Express fleet also maintained by Siemens, currently achieving a mean distance between casualties (causing a delay of over 5min or a service cancellation) of 116000 km.

Technical specifications

TABLE: Length over couplers, power car mm 23739

Length over couplers, trailer car mm 23140

Distance between bogie centres mm 16000

Bogie wheelbase mm 2500

Wheel diameter, new mm 860

Weight, empty tonnes 145

Power supply 25 kV 50Hz

Continuous rating kW 1400

Maximum starting tractive effort kN 150

Maximum speed km/h 150

Principal suppliers

Bodyshells and final assembly CAF, Zaragoza

Traction equipment Siemens AG

Pantograph Brecknell, Willis

Bogies and couplers CAF, Beasain

Braking system Westinghouse Brakes

Air-conditioning Albatros (Stone Iberica)

Door actuators Faiveley

Inter-car gangways Woodville Polymer Engineering

Passenger seating Fainsa

Toilet modules CMC

Toilet equipment Semco

CAPTION: The 3+2 interior seating reflects the Class 333’s primary role on suburban services into Leeds and Bradford from surrounding towns in West Yorkshire

CAPTION: Class 333s join domestic Spanish EMUs on the assembly line at CAF’s Zaragoza plant