Delivery delay on new trains to hit St Albans and Harpenden commuters
NEW trains due to be delivered to First Capital Connect (FCC) to increase passenger capacity as part of the Thameslink Programme have failed to arrive. But the rail industry has co-operated to provide enough carriages for the train operators to run their
NEW trains due to be delivered to First Capital Connect (FCC) to increase passenger capacity as part of the Thameslink Programme have failed to arrive.
But the rail industry has co-operated to provide enough carriages for the train operators to run their new timetable through St Albans, Harpenden and Radlett from March 22.
Train makers Bombardier Transportation were supposed to have delivered 23 new Electrostar trains before the new timetable commenced. However the first train only arrived at the end of February - three-and-a-half months late - and only two more are due to be delivered in time. The remainder are promised for the summer.
But the Department for Transport has organised a supply of carriages from other train operators to ensure there is enough replacement rolling stock for the timetable.
Providing everything goes to plan, the new timetable will deliver almost 2,800 extra seats across the morning and evening peaks - but this is still 616 short of the planned increase.
New journeys from south-east London to local stations will also start to operate.
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But FCC have warned that they will have far fewer spare trains to manage any potential failures, which is more likely as the loaned trains are operating on unfamiliar infrastructure.
They have however said that they will be putting in additional staff and have plans to deal with any problems that may arise.
An extra rush-hour "crowd-buster" service will also be introduced to pick up passengers at Farringdon every weekday night, departing at 6.16pm for stations to Bedford.
FCC managing director Elaine Holt said: "Bombardier management's failure to deliver on time new Electrostars for the Thameslink route is a massive blow for our customers. As well as making the Thameslink Programme timetable work, the new trains would have added brand new air-conditioned carriages to an ageing fleet."
She added: "Our customers will now have to wait until the summer to see the full benefits of this new fleet of trains including the full capacity improvements."
The new timetable will close the Thameslink route to the Moorgate branch to allow Network Rail to rebuild the Blackfriars platforms and for the Farringdon platforms to be extended later in the year.
Once completed, the stations will be able to handle the new double-capacity,12-carriage trains planned for the Bedford to Brighton route to reduce overcrowding.
Ms Holt added: "We'll be pulling out all the stops to do our absolute best to run a good service but the risk of potential disruption is greater because of the situation caused by this delay at Bombardier."
To avoid the crowds, FCC customers are advised to use City Thameslink if possible. More information on alternative travel routes is available at www.thameslinkprogramme.co.uk