Testing time for new Thameslink-line trains

PUBLISHED: 14:06 19 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:22 06 May 2010

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

ONE of the new trains set for introduction on the Thameslink route in March is now undergoing testing with operator First Capital Connect (FCC). The four carriage 377 Electrostar train has started non-passenger operation for driver training, signal testi

ONE of the new trains set for introduction on the Thameslink route in March is now undergoing testing with operator First Capital Connect (FCC).

The four carriage 377 Electrostar train has started non-passenger operation for driver training, signal testing, gauge clearance, platform staff training and validating on-board passenger information.

Other technical on board and track tests are also taking place before the arrival of the remaining 22 trains, which will initially be paired up to provide eight carriage trains.

The new trains will provide extra capacity on the route as part of the £5.5-billion Thameslink Programme and will include a computerised on-train operations system, air conditioning and automated passenger information systems.

By 2011, 12-car trains will stop at longer platforms and by 2015 an entirely new fleet will serve the route at a much greater frequency.

Andy Cope, engineering director at FCC said: "We are going through a vigorous testing programme to ensure we get everything right ahead of the arrival of the 23 units. This will see a step-change for our customer's environment."

He added: "The Thameslink Route has only predominantly used one type of train for the past 20 years, so there is a lot of new technology and new systems that need to be tested thoroughly."

But the work coinciding with the long-awaited Thameslink Programme will mean disruption for rail passengers heading for south London and Gatwick during weekends and overnight next year.

Services between St Pancras International and Blackfriars will be suspended during these times to allow improvement works to the tracks and stations to be carried out in line with the project.

Passengers heading south of London on the FCC service from St Albans, Harpenden and Radlett, will have to disembark at St Pancras and catch the tube or a bus to reconnect to the service at London Bridge.

The same goes for those travelling in the opposite direction when the closures come into effect in December.

The route through London has been closed for a large proportion of weekends already this year and in 2009 it will close for 47 out of 52 weekends.

An FCC spokesperson stressed the importance of the work and said the company were looking into the ways of making journeys during the closures easier for customers, in particular those going to and from Gatwick airport.

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