As far as I know, there haven't been any confirmed orders, which is why at the moment they are proposing these different configurations and making a demonstrator. If they prove the demonstrator to work, then they will likely find an operator. General consensus is they will act as pacer replacements for northern, but they may end up on other lines (marshlink perhaps?)
"I don't make mistakes. I make prophecies which immediately turn out to be wrong." "And now, excuse me while I interrupt myself" - Murray Walker OBE
Student of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nottingham
Unsurprising that the D78 conversions are being taken seriously. They can be converted to RVAR spec relatively easy and cheaply when compared to the pacers.
The routes where pacers run are subsidised heavily. What most people up north don't realise is that replacing pacers with modern stock similar to 172s would mean a substanstial increase of subsidies as they are very heavy when compared to pacers. A converted D78, although heavier than a pacer, would be lighter than modern DMUs, and as a result would require less operating subsidy.
The extensive refurb, which included new bogies, the D78s received in the mid noughties means they probably have around 15 to 20 years life in them after retirement from LU.
The South West could do with these trains. On the Exmouth (5th biggest town in Devon) Branch to Exeter (2nd biggest and planned to have eight stations) they have a 30 minute service and want a 15 minute service although requires two more passing places.
Paignton (4th biggest),and Torquay (3rd biggest with two stations and a third planned) want a regular 30 minute service which is irregular at the moment even after the recent smokescreen timetable changes. They need trains with faster acceleration and stopping times and easier loading times to make the journey to Exeter faster. This would also benefit Newton Abbott (6th biggest town), Kingsteignton, Teignmouth, and Dawlish would also benefit.
Barnstaple (7th biggest) and Crediton would like longer trains and a half hour service in the peaks. Reopening to Okehampton (already open on summer Sundays) would be a real possibility.
The shortage of diesels and the right type of train is holding up expansion of the services even though Exeter is expanding and is a nightmare for car drivers.
I suspect that there is so much pent up demand in the north which any decent stock will release that the replacement stock for the pacers will quickly have capacity issues.
Anyone who has not ridden on one should take the opportunity to enjoy the noise, the bounce, the bench seats etc.
I agree with the first statement, the second one definitely needs to be taken with a pinch of salt though! HWMBO has organised his daily commute so that rather than a 158 he gets a service usually diagrammed for a pair of pacers.
A friend of my mine from the East Midlands has just finished an All Line Rover, for those of you who've never experienced a pacer: have a read here.
Whilst I agree absolutely with your sentiments, unfortunately, grandstanding politicians got involved especially after last winter's Dawlish flooding.
I do not want to turn this into a political thread, and any attempt to do so would not last long.
However, with the current Government, there is evidently a definite distinction between a "pledge", a "promise" and a "definite promise"
Cameron seems to have given the locals pledges and promises last winter, but no "definite promises"
Whatever Cameron said at the time about alternative routes, has long been forgotten (by him but not the locals) and I now doubt if he can remember where Dawlish is. Like many things in rail planning, it would seem that they have now gone into overdrive to find reasons "why not" to fulfil their "pledge"(etc,) regarding re-opening the Okehampton - Tavistock route, than finding reasons "why", and "how" it can be done.
It would be a nice thing to have, wonderful in fact, but this Gov't would rather bribe people with their own money in more marginal areas.
The next "station", if you can call it a station, will be Castlebar Park which was a nice place until 1935. Now, only leave the train here if you wish to use the "shelter" to pee in. Everyone else seems to.
I am expecting to kick the bucket next year as 30 years ago I said I would never live to see the Kingskerswell bypass. It opens next December. I believe this road only came about because of the coalition government. Liberal (Sanders) and Conservative (Woolaston) in Torbay.
The A303 dualling began in the 1980's then stopped, revived and stopped again so it is a mish-mash of single and dual carriageway. The current revival still does not include the Blackdown Hills.
My new lifetime prediction is no inland rail route and no road through the Blackdown Hills but another coalition and I might still not live long.
I am still very surprised at this decision: in the time of tougher environmental legislation to cut down energy use, I thought that the D78 Stocks would spend their lives only on the Underground. Additionally, I thought that any type of Underground train were so custom made that it there would have to be an super ultra exceptional case to convert it for use outside the network, such as the small tunnels of the Isle of Wight.