McLoughlin opens Three Bridges depot following Class 700 arrival
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has formally opened the hi-tech Three Bridges traincare facility in Crawley, West Sussex, one of the two new depots where Siemens will maintain its Class 700 Desiro City fleet.
The depot will play a major role in housing and maintaining the 1,140-carriage fleet for the expanded Thameslink network.
When complete in 2018, the network will operate from Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough to Brighton, Horsham, Gatwick, Maidstone and Sevenoaks.
McLoughlin said: “Our plan for passengers is delivering real improvements for those who use Thameslink services.
“The opening of this state-of-the-art facility is a major milestone and paves the way for an impressive new fleet of hi-tech trains to come into service from spring next year.
“The improvements will transform rail travel for millions of passengers, with better journeys on fantastic new Class 700 trains, improved connections and upgraded stations.”
While most of the fleet’s components are being manufactured by UK suppliers, the trains themselves are being built in Krefeld, Germany.
RTM has reported on the new depot extensively, including a major milestone in April when Siemens completed work on seven of the 12-car trains, as well as one reduced-length eight-car train. At the time, more than 230 bodyshells had been manufactured under the £1.6bn contract.
More recently, the first train of the Thameslink fleet arrived in the depot for testing. Siemens and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) were set to undertake an ‘exhaustive testing programme’ ahead of services starting next year.
The fleet will feature air conditioning, wide doors and open through-carriages that contribute to a more comfortable and accessible travelling experience.
The Thameslink programme of infrastructure improvements is expected to transform north-south travel, reduce crowding and improve reliability. Combined with the redevelopment of London Bridge and a better signalling system (ATO over ETCS, with traffic management), the new trains will allow GTR to run 24 trains per hour through the Thameslink core in central London.
As McLoughlin visited the depot today (October 15), the government also published the terms of reference of the London-South Coast Rail Corridor Study, which will consider options for increasing capacity and alleviating pressure on the Brighton Main Line, on which Thameslink services will operate.