Rail franchises operators & contracts

29.01.19

Heavy delays to new trains forces TfL to bring in temporary replacements on London Overground

Modified electric trains have been launched by TfL on the London Overground as a temporary replacement for the delayed delivery of new Class 710 electric trains.

Earlier this month, the planned rollout of electric trains on the troubled Gospel Oak to Barking line was delayed indefinitely by manufacturer Bombardier – the latest in a long set of delays to trains that were originally due in spring last year.

Now TfL has announced that the London Overground line will, from this week, see a mixed fleet of trains with existing Class 378 trains being modified and drafted in.

The modified electric trains will operate alongside current diesel trains to ensure the line can remain open without the new trains, as well as offering more than double the capacity of the two-car diesel trains.

The London transport body called it an “temporary solution” after the long-awaited new electric Class 710 trains were delayed indefinitely, with Bombardier saying that it still needs to carry out software development and mileage testing before the trains are released for driver training.

Mayor of London and head of TfL Sadiq Khan said it would “continue to press Bombardier to do everything they can to deliver a fully operating train to relieve the uncertainty and disruption to customers,” with Khan adding that he had secured a month’s free travel to compensate passengers once the new trains are introduced.

The trains were supposed to be introduced in spring last year, but were delayed until the summer.

They were then promised in November, with a campaign user group claiming the service has been on a “knife-edge” due delays, cancellations and overcrowding, and TfL has since been unable to provide a date for when the electric trains would come into service.

TfL’s director of rail and sponsored services, Jon Fox, said: “We are very sorry for the continuing delay to the introduction of the new fleet of electric trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking line. We share our customers' frustration and continue to push Bombardier to do everything they can to allow us to bring the new trains into service as soon as possible.

“Given the ongoing delays we are modifying three electric trains normally used elsewhere on the network and will put them into use on the Gospel Oak to Barking line until the new electric trains are here.”

The Gospel Oak to Barking line’s existing diesel trains were due to be released for use elsewhere in the country, but TfL has already extended its lease on the trains twice since last summer due to the delays.

The diesel trains will now be released in March at which point if the new electric trains are still not available then TfL warned that the frequency of services on the line could be heavily reduced as a short-term measure.

A Bombardier spokesperson said: "We understand passengers’ frustration with the delay in the introduction of our new electric trains. We are completing the last few crucial software tests on the new British-built trains, to first enable driver training to commence and then, shortly after, passenger service on the Gospel Oak to Barking line."

Image credit - TfL image - a Class 710 London Overground Train

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