Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Testing Class 395 Trainsets

Hitachi's Ashford Depot at night

At the end of 2007, I was involved in systems testing on the first Class 395 unit. Testing is based on the new Hitachi Railway Maintenance Depot at Ashford shown in the night photograph. The depot has five covered roads. Outside, dead-end siding 'WL' on the extreme right is presumably storage for the wheel lathe. The next dead-end siding 'TT' is the test track. This is provided with both d.c. third-rail and 25kV a.c. overhead catenary. However, the a.c. facility was not available so arrangements had been made to drag 'Unit 1' to Dollands Moor (the E.W.S. freight depot at the English end of the Channel Tunnel) where we could carry out 25kV a.c. static tests overnight. Initial test work was carried out inside the depot, powering-up the trainset from a 750 volt d.c. shore supply. The supply is fed to two busbars in the roof adjacent to the train. A moveable trolley in the roof taps power from the busbars and delivers it, via a pendant cable, to a connector on the train.

The Class 60 being coupled to the Class 395

Class 60052 arrived to hook onto the Class 395. The Class 60 has a standard drawhook with screw coupling and British Rail standard 2-pipe air brake, whereas the Class 395 has a Scharfenberg automatic coupler and non-standard air brake. The Class 395 had already been rigged with a 'Translator' which has two air brake hoses for connection to the assistant locomotive and converts the pressures so as to apply the brake of the Class 395 in an appropriate manner. A Scharfenberg coupler head had been rigged to a framework fitting over a standard drawhook and, once in place on the Class 60, it was secured by clamp screws. The first attempt at coupling failed but, second time, the Class 60 'captured' the Class 395. The brake hoses on the Class 60 were then coupled to the Class 395 and a couple of plastic cable ties ensured that the translator hoses were held well above the railhead.

The Class 60 slowly drew the Class 395 through the yard and into the headshunt, where we had to wait for an EMU to attach at the rear of the Class 395. This took a little while but, eventually, the EMU dragged the whole consist back through the yard and into platform 6 at Ashford International station. Here, there was a short delay whilst the EMU was uncoupled and then the Class 60 dragged 395 001 out onto the main line heading for Dollands Moor. Speed under these conditions is limited to 35 m.p.h. but before long we had slowed to diverge into Dollands Moor and came to a stand on one of the loops electrified at 25kV a.c. where we would spend the night carrying out static a.c. testing.

On completion of the testing, there was just time for a few hours sleep at a hotel in Ashford before returning to the Ashford Depot to carry out further investigations. 395 001 was still at Dollands Moor but 395 002 (which had been at Dollands Moor) had been dragged back to the Ashford Depot.

Jan in the cab of 395 002 inside the depot at Ashford

Although a second night's testing had been planned for Unit 1 at Dolland's Moor, because of other commitments I returned home after a thoroughly exhausting, but educational, couple of days.

Related posts on this website

Class 395 Trainsets.

My pictures

Class 395: Testing.

[Related post ref added:10-Sep-2016]