Northern has confirmed that it will operate Class 319 Flex bi-mode trains on the line between Oxenholme and Windermere following the government’s decision not to electrify the route as planned.

The Flex units, which will be re-designated as Class 769s, will be used on the line from May 2018, Northern announced yesterday. From 2019, Northern will operate new DMUs being built by CAF on the branch line as well.

Northern says it has also been tasked by the Department for Transport (DfT) with identifying alternative-fuel options. The announcement by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling yesterday (21 July) cancelling several electrification schemes made reference to both battery and hydrogen technology.

Says Sharon Keith, regional director at Northern, ‘The ‘Flex trains’, which will be re-designated as class 769s, are currently being converted from existing class 319s and are planned to be introduced to the network from May 2018. These will ensure our customers in the Lake District are able to benefit from the electrified route south of the national park and travel direct to Windermere – all on a fully refurbished dual fuel train.

‘From December 2019 we will look to introduce our brand new trains, currently being constructed by CAF, and the Lakes Line will reap the benefit of this programme with the introduction of new diesel powered trains which will feature, as standard, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and plug sockets throughout.

‘The proposed introduction of the Flex 769s, together with the brand new trains, will provide the Lakes Line with an excellent service up to 2019 and beyond. Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and we are committed to providing them with the best services, on the best trains possible.’


Read more: UK government fails to make concrete commitment to new railway investment in HLOS statement