GTR orders 27 new Class 387-2s to replace Gatwick Express fleet

Govia Thameslink Railway has confirmed that it has placed a £145.2m order with Bombardier for 27 new four-car trains for its Gatwick Express services, as first reported by RTM last month.

The new trains, which will be built in Derby, are to be four-car Class 387/2 Electrostar EMUs and will replace the fleet of five-car Class 442 EMUs built in the 1980s that have been operating on the route since 2008. They have never been ideal stock to run an airport rail link, and their future is unclear.

GTR says the new trains, due to enter service in 2016, will be “specially designed for the rail-air route with easier boarding, better luggage space, 2+2 seating and wi-fi.”

Charles Horton, CEO of GTR and managing director of Southern, said: “This is great news for our Gatwick passengers, but also for those travelling from Brighton, as in the off-peak some of these trains will be extended to there, while still maintaining the fast connection between Victoria and Gatwick.”

The contract is a follow-on to a previous order for 116 Class 387/1 cars which Southern, a Govia company, placed in July 2013. These were ordered on behalf of the DfT for interim use by on the Thameslink route between Bedford, London and Brighton from December 2014 until 2016, following the delays in confirmation of the deal with Siemens to build the long-term stock for the route: the Class 700 Desiro City fleet.

When RTM talked to Southern’s fleet overhaul and projects manager Iain Nairne, overseeing the procurement, last month, he told RTM: “The build of the trains is well advanced and we’re on target from that perspective. The process now is to start fault-free running and to start introducing the trains into service once that’s been concluded.

“Compared to the [Class] 319 trains that they will replace, they are a significant improvement.”

At that stage, 12 units were fully built, ready to start the fault-free running process at Bletchley, and units 13-16 were on the production line at Derby.

By May 2015 GTR expects “virtually every train” on the Thameslink Bedford to Brighton service will be an Electrostar. The DfT say that this will allow the current Class 319 EMUs to be cascaded onto newly-electrified routes in the north west.

Horton added: “We took over the operation of the Thameslink route in September and already we are introducing new trains which will transform our passengers’ journeys on services between Bedford and Brighton.”

Horton will be hoping performance improves: GTR has had a difficult first few weeks as the new operator of services on Thameslink, with poor punctuality figures.

Rail minister Claire Perry said: “These new British-built trains are great news for passengers and a boost for the economy. They will transform journeys on the Gatwick Express and Thameslink routes and safeguard jobs at Bombardier’s Derby factory.

“As part of our long-term economic plan, over £38bn is being invested in improving our railways over the next five years and it’s great to see companies like GTR investing in the service it provides for its customers.”

(Image: New Class 387 unit 387101, making runs up and down the Old Dalby test track. Copyright Resilient Photography)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email


R D Burch   25/11/2014 at 12:00

It is good to see new stock ordered but I wonder what will happen to the 442's since they were given quite a good makeover for the GE route. Perhaps a marketing campaign could be launched to promote new fast routes using the 442 stock. There is already an almost non stop service to brighton, this could utilise the 442's and be reintroduced as the Brighton Belle. What about other Coastal Stations such as Hastings and Eastbourne. These could benefit from fast services too. The present 377 stock could then be utilised to lengthen other routes and reduce the overcrowding. With the Gatwick Express in mind, the cost of the fare must be far closer in cost to the standard fare to encourage air passengers to use the new units rather than try and cram as much as they can into already overcrowded standard services. The airport and railway company need to emphasise the value of using the new Gatwick Express stock thus making it easier for travellers from stations closer to London to get in and not stagger past huge quantities of cases and bags.

Andrew Gwilt   28/11/2014 at 11:43

So Bombardier are building the Class 387/1's & 387/2's to increase reliability on the Thameslink & Gatwick Express routes. x29 387/1's for Thameslink x27 387/2's for Gatwick Express. What about Bombardier to build more Class 379 Electrostars for Abellio Greater Anglia to cascade the 72x Class 317's and 94x Class 321's with 120x Class 379 Electrostars. 60x 379/1 & 60x 379/2 for Abellio Greater Anglia with another 20x (50x) 379/0 for Stansted Express (London Liverpool Street-Stansted Airport). I love how Bombardier are building the next generation Electrostar trains for the UK.

Nonsuchmike   12/12/2014 at 15:37

The blurb says they will cascade to the NW, probably between Manchester & Liverpool to start with. It would be too much to expect them to be on the newly electrifying Wrexham/Chester run, or on the soon to be upgraded Halton Curve to actually include North Wales as a direct access to/from Liverpool. Or maybe they will think outside of the box for once in their sweet lives and put them cross country from Lincoln to the NW via Nottingham or via Sheffield. You never know with these people in securitised offices, they have a nasty habit of doing what you least expect just for devilment, I do declare!

Nick Thompson   22/01/2015 at 02:08

This takes me back, I did a lot of work on the original Class 442 cars and assisted on the commissioning of the sets in the south

Stuart Rivett   15/04/2015 at 22:21

Why can't we have some nice new trains in the north east for a change & GTR can have our lovely 142's. Honestly, you'd love them !

Colin Burnham   03/03/2016 at 19:04

Gatwick Express CL 387/2 Absolutely the most uncomfortable seating ever rock hard just one step away from wooden bench seating,a real backward step in passenger comfort

Commuter Woe   24/05/2016 at 20:20

What a let down! The most beautiful shiny train with the most awful seats! I have been commuting on the GE for 8 years and could snooze I dread the journey!

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