British Rail Mark 4
|British Rail Mark 4|
|In service||1989 - present|
|Constructed||1989 - 1992|
|Number in service||144|
|Formation||9 carriage sets|
|Operator(s)||London North Eastern Railway|
|Line(s) served||East Coast Main Line|
|Car body construction||Fully integral, steel 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)||Triple axle mounted discs, pneumatically operated|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
As of July 2020, 19 Mark 4s have been scrapped, 144 are still in service (formed of 16 9 carriage sets), and 139 are in storage.
History and construction
A small build compared with the Mark 2 and Mark 3 designs, 314 Mark 4s were built between 1989 and 1992 by Metro-Cammell's Washwood Heath factory to operate services on the newly electrified East Coast Main Line. Today they are operated by London North Eastern Railway in 30 fixed formations of nine coaches, with a Class 91 locomotive and Driving Van Trailer.
The Mark 4 is an all-steel coach incorporating a number of improvements over the Mark 3 stock - notably the inclusion of automatic push-button operated plug-type doors, in place of manually operated slam-doors, fully sealed gangways and controlled emission toilets (CET). Body shells were built by British Rail Engineering Limited (BREL) and Società Italiana Ernesto Breda.
After a period of evaluation in 1988, Swiss SIG type BT41A 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 (BT41B/C refer to the bogie types used on the Mk4 DVT).
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 plus four flip-down seats per vestibule (since removed and replaced with bench style perch seats).
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.
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 October 2003 and November 2005, Bombardier Transportation, under contract from GNER, rebuilt and refurbished the carriages under 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 & North Eastern Railway and holder of 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. 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 with first class seating converted to standard. 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.
Additionally GNER introduced WiFi 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. Prior to National Express East Coast (NXEC) taking over the franchise in December 2007, WiFi was free in first class and chargeable in standard class; under the new NXEC franchise access it became free for all passengers. In October 2010, under East Coast operation, charges for standard class passengers were reintroduced.
All were revinyled in East Coast livery with the last completed in April 2013. They were revinyled in Virgin Trains East Coast livery in 2015. In February 2016, a refurbishment program called Plush Tush, commenced with new seat covers, carpets and purple mood lighting in First Class.
The Mark 4s were largely replaced on the East Coast Main Line by Class 800s & Class 801s in 2019/20. Virgin Trains East Coast were to retain seven or eight nine-carriage sets to operate extra services to Edinburgh. LNER later stated this plan had been cancelled. In September 2020, Eversholt Rail Group and London North Eastern Railway extended their lease to 10 by 2023. In addition, there are options to make it operational until 2024. It will be overhauled at the Wabtec Doncaster plant.
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Media related to British Rail Mk4 coaches at Wikimedia Commons