Project Phoenix


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 once again gracing 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 some months, and after consultations we have restructured and refocussed our restoration efforts against a set of achievable goals.


Phase One:

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 unit’s 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.

The approximate cost for this work is £10,000.

July 2021 Update:
This part of Phase One has now been fully funded by Armstrong Powerhouse.  Brake chests and controllers have been removed from 3417 and 
dispatched to Railway Brake Services Ltd. of Burton-on-Trent, along with several spare brake chests from our spares float to provide additional parts. We anticipate the overhauled brake equipment will be returned to Strawberry Hill for fitting within the next few months.


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.

After getting quotes from approved suppliers, we anticipate the cost of materials will be approximately £2,500.

July 2021 Update:
This part of Phase One has now been fully funded by RealTime Trains. Timber has been ordered and delivered, and machining/fitting of the fresh stepboards is expected to begin 



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 remain infestation of moths noted when the unit moved back from Ilford after refurbishment.

Update July 2021:
Thanks to the efforts of our trim team, we are now able to carry out refurbishment work on the water-damaged seat bases in-house. This has saved us a significant amount of money, and with purchases of appropriate equipment including an industrial sewing 
machine we are optimistic that we be able to achieve a full overhaul of all seat bases without needed to use specialist contractors.

Phase One July 2021 Update: As of this date we now have funding in place and work under way to complete the required brake exam, new step board timber has been ordered and delivered and we are a few weeks away from finalising arrangements for the air system to be assessed and (hopefully) recertified.

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.

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.

July 2021 Update:
At the time of writing we have all the equipment required to fit 3417 with GSM-R; this is part fo the equipment upgrade required to allow the unit to operate on Network Rail infrastructure.



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.

The SETG is currently approaching potential sponsors to reduce the outlay for this equipment.




July 2021 Update:
The restoration project moves on, despite the challenges posed by COVID. Funds have continued to slowly accrue, added to which we have several major sponsors who have combined their efforts to bring Phase One of the work forwards. At the time of writing we have timber ready to be machined into stepboards, brake components have been removed from the unit and sent for overhaul and we have plans to inspect and re-certify the air system for use. We also have all the components required to install GSM-R. OTDR will be a challenge but we are looking to procure the parts required to allow this work to go ahead. Added to this we have continued to gather spares for our float which will enable the unit’s continued operation in the coming years.

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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