Porterbrook has awarded a contract to RailCare for C6 overhauls to Class 153 and 156 fleets.
As part of the overhaul, Porterbrook has taken the decision to undertake the additional work necessary to make the Class 156 fleet compliant with the 1st January 2020 Passengers of Reduced Mobility Technical Specification for Interoperability (PRM TSI) regulations.
This means that rather than replacing the fleet before that date with new trains the 156s will be available to the next long term franchisee for the full length of the franchise if so required.
The additional work will include a revised seating layout to provide priority seats; two wheelchair spaces with ‘call for aid’ buttons; a new universal toilet ensuring adequate wheelchair access also fitted with a ‘call for aid’ button, and a passenger information system (PIS).
In addition the interior doors between the vestibules and passenger compartment will be removed, external door sounders will be fitted and handrails replaced.
It is Porterbrook’s belief that this is the first of the Sprinter/Super Sprinter series of trains to be made compliant with the regulations and demonstrates that modification is an economic and viable alternative to replacement.
Consideration was also given to undertaking similar work on the Class 153 stock but it was felt that, currently, it was more difficult to make the economic case because of the level of work needed on a single car unit.
However, further investigation work will be carried out as will the possibility of reconfiguration into fixed 2-car units.