At a liaison meeting on 24 October, Chiltern Railways set out the status of their air quality improvement actions in a presentation to local people:
Class 165 Trials - The project to convert diesel trains to hybrids - using rechargeable batteries - is in detailed design stage. It’s planned that these modified Class 165 trains will go into full service by May 2020, reducing noxious emissions by up to 25%. These battery-hybrid trains can turn the diesel-engines off as the trains come into the station, thereby reducing emissions and noise pollution.
Class 168 Trials – This newer class of train is also in detailed design stage for conversion to hybrid running, and due to be in service by September 2020. The modification of the Class 168 trains will provide environmental benefits similar to the modified Class 165 trains.
Implementation of Zero-emissions zone – A one-mile zero-emissions zone has been designed, so that trains will switch over to battery-power as far north as Primrose Hill, well-before they reach Lords’ Cricket Ground on the approach to Marylebone Station.
Staff training and enforcement - A key component of the Chiltern Railways strategy includes staff-training, so that these promising policies are successfully implemented by drivers and station management. It’s good to see some tangible training-initiatives already in place.
We remain encouraged by the dialogue with Chiltern Railways; however, there is no room for complacency, and we cannot afford a slip in the already-delayed implementation-timeline.