Project Phoenix: Returning 3417 to Service.


Project Phoenix is a structured plan to restore unique 4VEP No. 3417 to running condition, from heritage railway operation towards our long-term aim of allowing 3417 to once again operate independently on the mainline.

The challenges standing in our way are large, and will involve careful planning and application of finances. But with thorough preparation and implementation none of the challenges are insurmountable. This page will illustrate the problems to be overcome to allow the unit to once again carry passengers and earn its keep.

Work has been ongoing at Strawberry Hill depot for the last 9 years, and after consultations we have structured and focussed our restoration efforts against a set of achievable goals.

Phase One will involve achieving work to allow the unit to be hauled on the National Network, and to allow passengers to be carried on preserved railways. We have fond memories of visiting railways in the South of England, and enjoyed the reactions of the travelling public who arrived to ride on the unit.

Brake Exam

The first aspect of Phase One will be an overhaul of the 4VEPs brake system and re-certification of the air tanks. We are in a position to achieve some of this work ‘in-house’ but we will need to bring in outside expertise to overhaul the Brake Control Chests under each coach, and to have the air tanks ultrasonically tested. Should any tanks have insufficient depth of metal remaining (4VEPs were never fitted with an air-drying system, so moisture liberated from the air under compression can sit in the air tanks and corrode the internal surfaces) they will have to be removed and replaced. As well as this we will strip, service and rebuild the brake cylinders.


January 2024 Update:
All brake equipment (brake blocks, brake chests, brake cylinders, brake rigging and air tanks) have passed their exams and are fit for mainline service. 3417 successfully passed its first Fitness to Run examination for 9 years on the 16th January 2024 ready for a transit move to and from Waterloo. This move was completely successfully carried out on the 27th January 2024. The SETG technical team are working to established engineering processes to keep all brake equipment in mainline-ready condition for any required moves across the National Rail Network.


Step Boards

As the brake examination and overhaul is ongoing, we will also fit new step boards to each coach. Some of the boards had rotted through and would not support any load (in other words “passengers might fall through them”) so replacement of all the boards that are life expired is essential. Any boards which are still sound will remain in place. While we will not compromise on safety or standards, we are also not intending to spend money where money doesn’t need to be spent; funds will be directed to where they are most needed. Partially perished boards will be cut and any sound timber salvaged to make ‘new” small stepboards.


January 2024 Update:

All damaged/rotted boards and have been removed and replaced with new timber.
In consultation with our CM&EE, Richard Salmon has identified a further 6 step boards which will be removed and replaced.


Internal Trim – Seating

The single largest task will be the restoration of the internal trim. We have previously carried out extensive research into sourcing the appropriate materials to re-upholster the unit and found the amount of money needed to meet the minimum order of raw materials was well beyond our current capabilities; £36,000. Fortunately we were invited to work alongside the National Railway Museum’s Project Commuter team, who are cosmetically restoring 2HAP No.4308. This allowed us to order just under 100 metres of trim which will allow us to begin refurbishing our passenger accommodation. This material was collected from the NRM in early August 2018. At the same time we also sourced a further 120 metres plus of suitable trim from the North Norfolk Railway which will move the project forward further. Both of these purchases were funded through our successful Crowdfunding appeal launched in 2017. Our depot at Strawberry Hill now has a small dedicated trim shop where we can begin to strip, salvage, retrim and produce fresh cushions and quarter pads for the unit as required. As part of the preservation process we will also treat the unit with insecticide to eliminate any of the remaining infestation of moths noted when the unit moved back from Ilford after refurbishment.



Update January 2024:
All trim is now in place. We have already identified trim which will be removed and improved over the coming months to further enhance the quality of the passenger accommodation.


Phase One Update January 2024:
Phase One of Project Phoenix has now been completed. All mechanical, electrical and interior work detailed above, plus all other related work has now been completed to allow the unit to transit via the National Network. 3417s first journey in 9 years was completed on the 27th January 2024 between Strawberry Hill and London Waterloo. The unit is now capable of carrying passengers on heritage lines.


Project Phoenix Phase Two:

Phase Two will involve achieving work to allow the unit to work on the National Network under it’s own power, as well as continuing to allow passengers to be carried on preserved railways as required. In order to allow the unit to become a functioning traction unit again several issues will need to be resolved.

1. Global System for Mobile communications – Railway (GSM-R)

In order to satisfy current Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) and Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB), the unit must as a minimum carry two pieces of safety-critical equipment which must be fully functional in both driving cabs for the unit to leave the shed without a piloting locomotive. The first of these is GSM-R, which allows the driver to be in full contact with any controlling signal box or signalling centre. The GSM-R allows trains to be stopped independent of a controlling signal through the Railway Emergency Call (REC) protocol, which, when a train receives an emergency stop message, requires the driver to bring the train to an immediate stand. The existing CSR (Cab Secure Radio) system fitted to the unit is obsolete and will be replaced. The SETG already has certain components to allow GSM-R to be fitted but will need to source further parts – either through corporate donation, sponsorship or through purchase from an approved manufacturer – and is making efforts to source all remaining parts to allow fitment of GSMR-R equipment to both driving cabs.

January 2024 Update:
At the time of writing we have all the equipment required to fit 3417 with GSM-R; this is part of the equipment upgrade required to allow the unit to operate on Network Rail infrastructure. We are now raising funds in order to allow engineering drawings to be produced, and allow the equipment to be tested, fitted and inspected.



2. On-Train Data Recorder (ODTR – also know as OTMR, On-Train Monitoring and Recording)

OTDR equipment is also a mandatory requirement for all UK locomotives and units which are to be driven on the mainline. It allows all control inputs, speed changes, brake pressures and other information to be recorded for examination at a later date. Circumstances under which information may be needed can include monitoring and assessment of driving quality and style, investigation of incidents and so on. The data is vital to demonstrating proper operation of the unit and having records of movements is vital to having a body of evidence to show proper operation of the unit by the crew.

The approximate cost of OTDR fitted as new, with preparation of drawings, fitting and certification will be approximately £5,000 per driving cab. This will include sourcing appropriate spares to allow robust operation.

January 2024 Update:
The SETG is currently approaching potential sponsors to reduce the outlay for this equipment.



3. Controlled Emission Toilet Equipment (CET)

CET equipment is now mandatory on all passenger-carrying rolling stock, and while is isn’t compulsory for 3417 to be fitted (since we could lock the existing facilities out of use), it is our intention to ensure that 3417 is as comfortable and amenable as possible to future passengers.

January 2024 Update:
We are currently researching the requirements, both in terms of design and fitting, for such equipment. Once these variable are better understood we can fundraise accordingly.


4. Central Door Locking Equipment (CDL)

Central door locking equipment, like CET equipment, is now mandatory for all passenger-carrying vehicles. However, unlike toilet facilities which can be locked out of use, the unit must be fitted with central door locking in order to carry passengers in mainline service.

January 2024 Update:
Alongside the design and installation of CET equipment, we are conducting research into CDL equipment. We are already in possession of schematics and specifications for a locking system designed by Network South East in the early 1990s, and we believe with modifications this would prove suitable for 3417. In the interests of controlling costs, the unit would only have some doors fitted with locking mechanisms – the remaining doors would be locked to prevent unauthorised use during transit.

Project Pheonix January 2024 Update:
Thanks to a team effort involving the SETG, the Bluebell Railway, GBRf, Network Rail and SWR, 3417 made its first successful departure from Strawberry Hill on the 27th January 2024. That journey, to and from Waterloo, has proved the faith of the SETG’s supporters and proved that EMU preservation is capable of delivering rolling stock suitable for mainline operation.At the time of writing the SETG is galvanising itself to being the next stage of 3417’s preservation career – heritage railway operation and the planning & fundraising required to begin work to allow the unit to once again carry passengers on the mainline.


We continue to welcome the encouragement and support you have given through our Facebook and Twitter accounts and, as finances and circumstances allow, our work will continue to bring 3417 back into passenger service.

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