Recycling and Reusing Old Trains – What happens next?

(C) D.Dowling

The railway network in the UK has seen a significant change in what trains are being produced, and so the question I would like to focus on is what happens to trains once they come to the end of their working life? They are often broken down and could potentially turn into your next food-can from the supermarket.


A Look at some famous case studies…

The class 319s were once the workhorse of the Thameslink services through London which were made redundant but have been brought back to life and re-classified as class 769s. The trains will be distributed to four different operating companies; Great Western Railway, Northern, Rail Operations Group and Transport for Wales.



Great Western Railway have received their first class 769 – a ‘tri-mode’ train which can be powered by the overhead wires system, third rail power supply or diesel power. The trains were originally built as electric trains but since they have been refurbished an addition of diesel engines have been fitted and the train now uses Man D2876 Engines. Great Western Railway are planning on using the class 769s on their Gatwick Airport to Reading service which will utilise both electric and diesel power sources as the route is partly electrified. The first train has arrived at Reading’s train depot ready for testing and the company plans to take delivery of 19 units once the project to convert them is complete.


Northern Rail were the first company to use the new type of train with the first unit being delivered back in 2018. Transport for Wales will receive 9 units along side Rail Operations Group who will be taking delivery of some to use as freight carriers. Taking freight of the roads will have a positive impact on the planet as a train can move a heavier load thus reducing carbon emissions.

Evershot Rail and Alstom will be investing in the ‘Breeze Hydrogen Train Project’ which will see old British Rail trains from the 1980s transformed into modern and eco friendly trains for the future. The trains will become class 600s and be powered by hydrogen cells.

There have also been other projects to utilise ex-London tube trains. The idea of reusing and recycling an object if possible is a positive for the planet and will give it the longevity it deserves.


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