UK Rail Operations Group gets the keys to their 3-mode locomotive

A Green Milestone, in every sense. Delivered in an eye-catching livery reminiscent of British Racing Green, Rail Operations Group may well have called the delivery of their first Class 93 tri-mode locomotive, a leap forward in reshaping the future of operations. It is certainly an environmental first strike on behalf of the rail industry in the race to a net-zero carbon economy.

Looking every bit the shape of things to come, and seeming so science fiction that HG Wells would recognise the inspirations, the Class 93 is set to break the mould and overcome the shortcomings of Britain’s somewhat patchy electrification programme. That all makes perfect sense for Rail Operations Group (ROG), the specialist support carrier, who have bigger plans to expand their theatres of operations. The locomotive’s arrival marks the commencement of a groundbreaking project that will see ten of these advanced locomotives gracing the UK rail network, with a further two batches of ten already optioned.

Latest refinement of successful design

The class 93 locomotive represents a leap forward in sustainable transportation, as it is capable of drawing traction power from three sources: overhead wires, batteries, and on-board diesel engines. This versatility allows it to significantly reduce CO2 emissions, making it an environmentally-friendly option for both rail freight and potential passenger transport services. In the latter mode, for express passenger operations, the model has been specified by aspiring open-access operator Grand Union, for their proposed Stirling to London service.

This pioneer of the fleet was delivered by ship and later transported by road to a site for further testing and commissioning. This initial delivery paves the way for the remaining locomotives in the order to follow suit. Stadler, the manufacturer behind the innovative design, played a crucial role in ensuring the locomotive’s readiness for the UK rail network. After completing quality control at Stadler’s facilities in Valencia, Spain, 93001 is now undergoing further testing in the UK prior to acceptance for operational deployment. The marque represents the latest development of the Stadler Euro Dual design, already in service in various guises across Europe, including the similar bi-mode class 88 already proving successful with Carlisle based Direct Rail Services.

Youngest and the oldest in one fleet

David Burley, Chief Executive Officer of Rail Operations Group, expressed enthusiasm for the game-changing class 93 fleet, highlighting its array of green credentials that align perfectly with the rail industry’s desire to meet decarbonisation targets set out in UK legislation. The locomotives’ state-of-the-art specifications also open up opportunities for ROG to diversify and explore new markets, all while modernising various aspects of UK train operations.

Although the precise location of locomotive 93001 has not been officially revealed by ROG, social media posts have tagged the locomotive at a maintenance facility in Worksop, situated in the East Midlands. Notably, the locomotive now features a conventional “yellow end” panel, complying with British safety standards. With ROG still having venerable class 37 locomotives on their fleet, the company has, for now, the notable distinction of the oldest and the newest main line locomotives on the UK rails. Astonishingly, there are more than eighty years between the designs.