British Rail Mark 4
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|British Rail Mark 4|
|In service||1989 - present|
Washwood Heath, Birmingham
|Constructed||1989 - 1992|
|Number built||314 vehicles|
|Number in service||302|
|Line(s) served||East Coast Main Line|
|Car body construction||Fully Integral, monocoque|
|Car length||23 m (75 ft 6 in) over buffers (23.4 m (76 ft 9 in) over couplings)|
|Width||2.73 m (8 ft 11 in) (over body)|
|Height||3.79 m (12 ft 5 in) (rail to roof)|
|Doors||Hinged Plug, pneumatically operated|
|Maximum speed||140 mph (225 km/h)|
|Weight||39.9–43.5 tonnes (39–43 long tons; 44–48 short tons)|
|Braking system(s)||Disc, pneumatic|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
History and construction
A small build compared with the Mark 2 and Mark 3 designs, the coaches were built between 1989 and 1992 by Metro-Cammell/GEC-Alsthom at its Washwood Heath works in Birmingham. The 302 vehicles are operated by East Coast in 30 fixed formations of nine coaches with a Driving Van Trailer and Class 91 locomotive.
It is an all-steel coach incorporating a number of improvements over the Mark 3 stock, notably the inclusion of automatic pushbutton operated plug-type doors in place of manually operated slam-doors. After a period of evaluation in 1988, Swiss SIG type BT41 bogies were selected rather than BREL type T4 bogies when BREL could not provide commercial guarantees on the demanding lateral ride comfort required for 140 mph running. However during the first year of operation in 1989 complaints were made about the "lively" ride of the coaches. This required modifications to the damper and spring rates of the bogies and the fitting of inter-coach "car coupler dampers" to improve damping between the vehicles. Disabled access was another priority of the design, so the door vestibules were enlarged to allow a more generous turning circle for a wheelchair. With ever-increasing levels of overcrowding the so-called 'gangway passenger' had become an important consideration, so the vestibule environment was improved with carpeted walls, better lighting, sealed gangways and carriage doors, and four flip-down seats per vestibule (since removed).
Many of these innovations came courtesy of the abandoned Advanced Passenger Train, upon which the Mark 4 was heavily based. This influence was most obvious with the profiled sides, intended to allow the retrofitting of tilt-equipped bogies derived from the APT. This would have allowed up to 6° of tilt; modified coaches would have been designated "Mark 4 T" but this plan was abandoned in January 1986. The business case for the Mark 4 anticipated them also being operated on the West Coast Main Line as a follow-on order after the East Coast Main Line electrification, but after the failure of the InterCity 250 project to gain Treasury support, British Rail ordered a small number of Class 90 locomotives to supplement existing locomotives on the West Coast Main Line until the introduction of Class 390 'Pendolino' units a decade later.
The Mark 4 has gained widespread praise for its exceptional crashworthiness, something that was proven in the Hatfield and Selby crashes, where experts identified the integral construction of the vehicles as being a key factor in restricting the death toll.
The Mark 4 was the first British Rail vehicle not to use the iconic Rail Alphabet typeface for interior signage and operating notices.
Via Rail Canada's Renaissance fleet of inter-city and sleeper coaches are derived from British Rail's Mark 4. They were built for the abortive Nightstar services to Europe, and adapted by Bombardier Transportation to meet Canadian requirements.
Between late 2003 and April 2006 GNER (the then franchise owner) and Bombardier Transportation undertook a rebuilding and refurbishment programme called Project Mallard. Trains with rebuilt coaches became known as Mallards to distinguish them from unrefurbished sets during the upgrade programme, named after the Mallard steam locomotive, built in the 1930s by the London and North Eastern Railway and holds the world speed record for steam locomotives.
The Mallard refit gave the coaches all-new interiors with new seats, carpeting and power points at every seat for charging laptops and powering appliances. The vestibule areas lost their flip-down seats near the entrances with perch-type seats being put in their place. The buffet coach was turned around and half converted to provide more standard-class seating. Wheelchair-width doors were fitted and the seating capacity was increased by fitting airline-style seats in place of the previous groupings of pairs of seats facing each other across a table.
The buffet was remodelled as 'cafe-bar' in a similar style to the 'shop' concept developed by Virgin on their Voyager and Pendolino trains. The range of products offered was smaller than on Virgin trains: they did not sell CDs or magazines, for example.
GNER introduced wireless Internet connectivity as a trial from December 2003 and into service from April 2004, making it the first service of its kind in the United Kingdom (similar services are now offered by Virgin Trains and Southern). All Mallard trains offer 802.11b/g wireless LAN access. Prior to National Express East Coast (NXEC) taking over the franchise on Sunday 9 December 2007 access to the Internet was free in first class and chargeable in standard class; under the new franchise access it became free for all passengers. In October 2010, under temporary Directly Operated Railways operation, East Coast reintroduced charges for standard class passengers.
Beginning in 2010, the coaches were externally refurbished with a new livery to replace the existing mix of GNER/NXEC liveries. The livery was applied using vinyls over the old paintwork during a vehicle overhaul at Wabtec Rail in Doncaster. The livery, which has been dubbed 'Silver Link', is similar to the one used by National Express East Coast during its brief tenure on the route.
Project Mallard Refurbishment Gallery
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to British Rail Mk4 coaches.|
- Marsden, Colin (November 1989). "Lid Comes Off Mk IV Stock". In Peter, Peter. Railway Magazine (Cheam: Prospect Magazines) 135 (1063): V. ISSN 0033-8923.
- Pritchard, Robert; Fox, Peter; Hall, Peter (2010). British Railways Locomotives & Coaching Stock 2010. Sheffield: Platform 5 Publishing. pp. 118,121–3,125. ISBN 978-1-902336-78-7.
- "Mark IV Passenger Vehicles For East Coast Main Line Electrification, P H Watts and M S Hawkridge, Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical Engineers, 1989.
- "The Mk 4 and Mk 5 coaches for British Rail Intercity Part 2 : testing, commissioning and service experience with the Mk 4 coach and development of the Mk 5 specification", J A Higton and D R Temple, Proceedings of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Vol 206, 1992.
- The Railway Magazine