On Friday 26th June 2015 Porterbrook Leasing showcased the new Class 144e to demonstrate to the industry how the passenger experience can be transformed by developing an existing vehicle making it comply with the technical standard for People with Reduced Mobility (PRM TSI) in the process.
The project, a collaboration between Porterbrook Leasing, RVEL, Lloyds Register Rail and other suppliers, took a 2-car Class 144 unit, 144012, and transformed the passenger environment with a new bright and welcoming interior, new seats, luggage and bicycle storage, draught screens and flooring. At the same time, a new universal access toilet, wheelchair spaces and priority seating was included. The technology aspect has been future proofed by the addition of a new Ethernet backbone which enables added value operational systems, with saloon and forward facing CCTV but also offers new passengers related functionalities such as passenger Wi-Fi, a full colour LCD information displays, media screens and automated passenger announcements.
Olivier André, Commercial Director for Porterbrook said “Self powered DMU vehicles will be required for the foreseeable future and it is generally accepted that there is and will be a DMU shortage for some years, part of which will be relieved by electrification. Porterbrook sees the Class 144e project as a demonstration of how to efficiently bring existing Rolling Stock up to date with the public expectations at a fraction of a cost of new vehicles, offering very quickly value for money to the industry.”
Andy Houghton, RVEL’s Commercial Director said: “We are delighted to have been asked to work with Porterbrook and other regional suppliers on delivering the 144e project. It is our hope that the 144e will showcase how the railway can properly meet the exacting demands of today’s passenger; so that the customer is able to experience the same levels of quality whether on existing or recently manufactured rolling stock.”
Martin Giles, Managing Director for Ricardo Rail said “Having started this project as an initial feasibility study, Ricardo Rail (formerly Lloyd’s Register Rail) were pleased to then be asked to develop the client requirements into a complete design solution. The key challenges included increasing the equipment installed on the vehicle, such as a Universal Access Toilet (UAT), without adding any weight penalty or reducing the passenger carrying capacity. Through collaborative teams, featuring colleagues from Porterbrook, Ricardo Rail and RVEL, we have built successful strong relationships with all the parties involved, which we hope to continue into the future.”