First Capital Connect’s Thameslink update completed

A MULTI-MILLION pound project to improve the reliability of First Capital Connect’s (FCC) Thameslink rolling stock has now been completed.

The �3.1 million improvement programme, which commenced in 2009, has delivered modifications to all 86 of FCC’s 23-year-old class 319 units, with the aim of boosting performance and reducing service failures.

Improvements include roof canopy repairs, to prevent leaks which often resulted in damage to electrical equipment; optimising the design of windscreen wiper equipment to provide greater reliability; new desk panels and modern switches to address failing components and new LED passenger door buttons.

An analysis of the upgrades has confirmed that performance on the class 319s could reach a reliability rate of 23,000 miles between failures, compared to the past average of 13,000.

FCC’s engineering director, Jonathan Bridgewood, said: “I am very pleased with the class 319 reliability upgrade programme.

“Our customers will see few of the improvements, including the new door buttons, because the majority of enhancements are in the driver’s cab but they will notice a more dependable service, which I am sure will be welcomed.”

FCC is also celebrating the end of cross-London engineering work on the Thameslink route and a much-improved service for St Albans passengers.

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For three-and-a-half years the Bedford-Brighton, Wimbledon and Sutton route has been closed every night and almost every weekend across central London for Thameslink programme upgrade work by Network Rail.

A spokesman said: “Passengers have had to take the Tube or bus to get between St Pancras International and London Bridge – a real problem, especially for anyone heading to Gatwick Airport with heavy luggage, let alone daytrippers to the seaside.”

From this Saturday, May 19, the route will reopen across central London at nights and weekends, giving uninterrupted travel across London.

Blackfriars station will be open on Saturdays and Sundays, with a new entrance on the South Bank near Tate Modern and other cultural attractions.

There will be four trains an hour between St Albans and London on Saturdays instead of the current three and they will be doubled in length from four to eight carriages on Saturdays to meet expected demand.