New FCC trains unveiled

The new First Capital Connect trains

The new First Capital Connect trains - Credit: Archant

Although a spelling mistake which changed Harpenden to Harpenthen hit the headlines, First Capital Connect (FCC) have promised huge benefits to Thameslink passengers from their new Class 700 trains.

Last week FCC unveiled a full-scale mock-up of the new state-of-the-art passenger train which, the company believes, will transform rail travel into and across London.

FCC also maintains it will boost the economy and generate thousands of jobs throughout the UK.

The full-scale mock-up of the new train – which bore the unfortunate spelling of Harpenden and omitted to mention Radlett and Elstree and Borehamwood stations – was unveiled by Rail Minister Stephen Hammond.

The new electric Class 700 train is intended to offer a much improved travel experience for passengers and alongside the wider infrastructure work will boost capacity and reliability across one of Europe’s busiest stretches of railway.

Among the benefits to the morning peak for local travellers is that the number of carriages serving the capital will jump by 40 per cent with longer, more frequent services and 30 per cent more seats on all Thameslink North service running fast from St Albans to London.

At the launch, the Rail Minister said: “These exciting new trains, combined with the wider Thameslink Programme are a real boost to UK plc, creating thousands of jobs in construction and across the supply chain, which is driving forward our economy.

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“Once operational, they will provide a huge benefit to the hundreds of thousands of passengers who travel into London every day. It will vastly improve train travel providing fast, reliable and more frequent services.”

FCC has worked closely with the government to develop the new trains and MD David Statham said: “This new fleet will give passengers more trains, more carriages and more capacity which our passengers desperately need.”

The first new train will begin operating in early 2016 with the remaining fleet following at an increasing rate until there is one new train entering passenger service every week. They will run on the current Thameslink network between Bedford and Brighton and the Wimbledon Loop and will be deployed across new routes from 2017 as infrastructure work is completed.

The first stage of the Thameslink Programme is now operationally complete. Final touches are being made to building work at Farringdon and Blackfriars stations, and platform extension work has been completed at a number of locations including St Albans and Luton Airport Parkway.