Taste of First Capital Connect improvements on the way

A LONGER 12-carriage train has been tested on the Thameslink line for the first time, giving passengers a glimpse of the improvements designed to combat overcrowding.

First Capital Connect (FCC) and Network Rail ran the 50 per cent longer train ran on Sunday without passengers to carry out checks on the new trains and platforms.

Short platforms currently restrict the trains to eight carriages but Network Rail is halfway through its programme to extend platforms at 12 stations north of London – including St Albans and Harpenden – and is also upgrading power supplies.

The first 12-carriage trains will enter service in December 2011 with more expected in the years to follow as part of the final phase of the �5.5 billion Thameslink Programme.

FCC projects director David Statham said: “Seeing our first longer 12-carriage train in test was a great moment. The Thameslink route is one of the most overcrowded in the country and this gives us a glimpse of the relief that is on the way.

“From December next year we will be able to run our first longer trains. There are likely to be four in the morning and four in the evening running on our fast services between Bedford and Brighton. A new fleet of trains will then follow to allow us to ramp up the service significantly.”

Network Rail’s major programme director for Thameslink, Jim Crawford, said: “Britain relies on rail to get millions of people to and from work every day, which is why projects like the Thameslink upgrade are so vital to the economy. Seeing the first longer train in action is great news and shows how close we are to delivering on our promise of longer trains, more seats and better journeys for passengers.”