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Services to rely on 40 year old trains.

OLD freight locomotives will be used to haul key passenger services from North Wales to Manchester and Birmingham this summer.

Continuing problems with a brand new fleet of 100mph trains - Class 175s - have forced rail operator First North Western (FNW) into another round of modifications on the diesel units.

From today five of the seven services between Holyhead and Birmingham will be operated by 40-year-old locos and borrowed carriages. One service between Holyhead and Manchester will be operated by a loco-hauled set.

Consumer groups have called on FNW to make sure the Class 175s are put right as quickly as possible.

Rail Passengers Committee Wales secretary Clive Williams welcomed the use of carriage trains on the route but is concerned the locos are not as reliable or comfortable as the new trains.

Mr Williams said: ``The use of loco-hauled stock will prevent overcrowding.

``But we are concerned that the travelling public should be enjoying the very latest rolling stock on the line and will be pressing the company to solve the problems with the Class 175s as soon as possible.''

Confirming the move FNW spokesman Rick Gutteridge said the locos would be used until at least the start of the summer timetable at the end of May.

But insiders said the locos are likely to remain in use much longer.

One told the Daily Post: ``There are 27 units to deal with in total. These are going to take time to go throught the modification period and then they will have to be tested. Passengers may still be seeing loco hauled trains in use at the end of the year.''

Mr Gutteridge stressed the carriages being brought in,formerly used by FNW's sister company First Great Western on services from London to the West Country,are modern in design and facilities.

``They are air conditioned and will have catering facilities,`` he said.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 31, 2003
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