UK: LNER has confirmed that its complete fleet of IC225 push-pull trainsets formed from a Class 91 locomotive and MkIV coaches will be taken out of service temporarily on January 15.
The date marks the start of the partial route closure at Werrington, north of Peterborough, where a dive-under is being built to grade-separate freight traffic to and from the Lincoln route. Only very limited services will operate between Grantham and Peterborough from January 16 to 24, with most LNER passengers needing to transfer to rail replacement services.
The Werrington blockade will be followed by major works at London King’s Cross, which will start to impact on services in February and significantly limit the station’s capacity from March 1 to June 4.
As a result, LNER sees a reduced fleet requirement for the first half of 2021. There are maintenance savings to be made on the IC225 fleet if the sets are not used, while the contract signed between the Department for Transport and Agility Trains means that LNER has to continue to pay for the Azuma sets whether or not they are in service.
While stood down, the IC225 sets will be kept in warm store at Neville Hill and Doncaster. Leasing company Eversholt will use the time to press on with the G exams for the fleet, which are already underway, meaning that many will have been through the overhaul programme by June.
The downtime will also give LNER some time to transfer IC225 maintenance from Bounds Green to Neville Hill, which is intended to be the long-term base for the small fleet that it plans to retain until additional Azuma sets are procured should the additional capacity still be required.
At present, LNER has retained 12 IC225 trainsets as a short-term measure. The operator had initially been planning to keep 10 MkIV sets for the longer term, but with Covid-19 causing a significant drop-off in demand this has now been reduced to seven sets of MkIV coaches, plus a spare TSOE and DVT, and 10 Class 91 locomotives.