Bombardier Turbostar

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Bombardier Turbostar
Class 170 in CrossCountry livery, westbound towards Leicester
In service1998–present
Built atDerby Litchurch Lane Works
Number built196 sets
Formation2, 3 or 4 carriages per set
CapacityVaries depending on number of cars and seating configuration, see individual articles for details
Car length23.62 m (77 ft 6 in)
Width2.69 m (8 ft 10 in)
Height3.77 m (12 ft 4 in)
Maximum speed100 mph (160 km/h)
WeightVaries depending on number of cars and seating configuration, see individual articles for details
Traction systemHydraulic transmission (168/170/171)
Mechanical transmission (172)
Prime mover(s)MTU 6R 183TD13H (168/170/171)
MTU 6H1800R83 (172)
Safety system(s)Various combinations of ATP, AWS, TPWS, Tripcock system
Coupling systemBSI[1]/Dellner couplers (Class 171, see below)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge

The Bombardier Turbostar (sold as the ADtranz Turbostar until 2001) is a family of diesel multiple unit (DMU) passenger trains that was built by ADtranz and later Bombardier Transportation at Derby Litchurch Lane Works in the United Kingdom between 1997 and 2011. The Turbostar was the first new train type to be introduced after the privatisation of British Rail. The first units were ordered by Chiltern Railways in 1996 and were designated Class 168 (also known as Clubman). Since then the family has grown with the addition of the Class 170, Class 171, and the Class 172.

Description and technical details[edit]

Turbostars feature onboard station monitors

The Turbostar and Electrostar platforms are a modular design, which share the same basic design, bodyshell and core structure, and are optimised for speedy manufacture and easy maintenance. They consist of a common underframe, which is created by seam-welding a number of aluminium alloy extrusions, upon which bodyside panels are mounted followed by a single piece roof, again made from extruded sections. The car ends (cabs) are made from glass-reinforced plastic and steel, and are huck-bolted onto the main car bodies. Underframe components are collected in ‘rafts’, which are bolted into slots on the underframe extrusion. The mostly aluminium alloy body gives light weight to help acceleration and energy efficiency.

Much of the design of the Class 168/170/171 is derived from the Networker Turbo Class 165 and Class 166 trains built by British Rail Engineering Limited's Holgate Road carriage works. Notable features shared are the aluminium alloy frame and two-stage Voith T211r hydrodynamic transmission system. The diesel engine has changed to an MTU 6R 183TD13H. A cardan shaft links the output of the gearbox to ZF final drives (instead of Gmeinder in the Networkers) on the inner bogie of each vehicle. The engine and transmission are situated under the body; one bogie per car is powered, the other bogie unpowered.[2]

The Class 172 differs mechanically to its older relations in several ways. The engine used is the more powerful and cleaner MTU 6H1800R83, the transmission is the mechanical 6-speed ZF Ecomat-Rail, and lighter Bombardier FLEXX-ECO bogies and hollow axles are used as well as half-height airdams. The exhaust system is also quieter and does not have the distinctive note of that of the Class 168/170/171.

Turbostars have been acquired for use by several train operating companies, each with different specifications. One of the more noticeable differences with later units compared to earlier ones are the larger headlights now specified for safety reasons.

Units are numbered 168 xxx, 170 xxx, 171 xxx, or 172 xxx, where xxx is the serial number of the unit. Individual carriages are numbered 50xxx and 79xxx for driving motor cars, and 54xxx, 55xxx and 56xxx for centre cars.

Working in multiple[edit]

One factor which contributes to the popularity of the Turbostars is that Class 170 units are fully capable of working in multiple with older types from the Class 15x Sprinter series of units as well as other units of the same class,[3] unlike all other types built since privatisation, giving them greater flexibility. However, there are issues with so-called "sandwich" formations, formed either as 170-15x-170 or 15x-170-15x, which causes problems with empty stock movements where up to four units of various types coupled together is common. A possible side effect of this is that Turbostars' performance is in line with the second generation 15x units, in fact being somewhat slower than a Class 150 or Class 156 on "short hop" workings, and slower than a Class 158 on longer distance workings unless there is enough 100 mph running to take advantage of the 10 mph higher top speed of the Class 170.

The Class 171 units are fitted with Dellner couplers rather than BSI (Bergische Stahl Industrie) couplers, which means that they can mechanically couple with Southern's Class 377 Electrostar EMUs for rescue purposes.


Class Image Operator Introduced Number Carriages End gangways
168 Clubman 1998 28 2, 3 or 4 No
170 Turbostar 119 2 or 3
171 Turbostar 2003 20 2, 3 or 4
172 Turbostar 2010 39 2 or 3 172/2 and 172/3 only[4]


  1. ^ "System Data for Mechanical and Electrical Coupling of Rail Vehicles". Rail Safety and Standards Board. Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  2. ^ "TURBOSTAR - United Kingdom". Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  3. ^ "CLASS 170 'Turbostar'". Archived from the original on 27 October 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ "CLASS 172 'Turbostar'". Archived from the original on 17 January 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • West, Lee (7–20 October 1998). "'Turbostar' is ready to roll!". RAIL. No. 341. EMAP Apex Publications. pp. 22–25. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.

External links[edit]