On average, the Voith powerpacks that drive the diesel-hydraulic Class 185 DMUs on the Manchester Airport to Cleethorpes route have only been in operation for approximately one year, but they have already done more than 10 million kilometers. After taking up service, none of the Voith Powerpacks has ever caused a standstill or led to delays of the timetable.

For the operator First TransPennine Express, a joint venture of the British First Group and the French transport provider Keolis, this was a convincing reason for replacing the old fleet. The ageing vehicles caused too many delays – a shortcoming over which the British Government keeps a jealous eye, and which is used as a yardstick for the quality rating of railway operators.

The three- to twelve-car trains have been in operation since 14 March 2006, and currently occupy third place in the domestic UK rating in the ‘miles per casualty‘ category . In this category, the vehicles are assessed on parameters such as ‘complete failure’ or ‘timetable delay’. According to Voith, the final ranking might even by higher.

Neither the T 312 turbo transmission, nor the SK-485 final drive, the cooling module, the couplers, cardan shafts or the electronic control system have ever been the cause of a standstill of these vehicles. Whenever one of the new DMUs unexpectedly broke down, depriving Class 185 of the coveted number one position for the time being, it was never due to the Voith components.

The Class 185 DMUs are the first rail vehicles with a Voith-Powerpack rated at 559 kW per driveline and/or an output of just under 1700 kW per three-car train. Voith is more than pleased to be proven right in its claim that hydrodynamics are superior to all other systems in terms of reliability and availability.

Yet the railway systems supplier does not rest on its laurels. Project Manager Andreas Kelterer, in charge of Voith Turbo’s own customer support department for the Class 185 driveline, emphasizes: “This performance has only been possible because we always have at least one Voith employee on site at the vehicle depot in Manchester.

“This guarantees short and fast reaction times when problems need to be analyzed and eliminated and, in the end, contributes to the availability of the vehicles, the satisfaction of our customer, the satisfaction of the operator TransPennine Express and consequently the satisfaction and safety of the passengers.”