Rail franchises operators & contracts

22.01.19

Porterbrook awards £11m contract to modify new digital Heathrow Express fleet

Porterbrook has unveiled a £11m contract with Bombardier to modify 12 Class 387 trains in preparation for their use on the Heathrow Express rail link.

The 12 specially converted ‘Electrostar’ trains currently operate on London commuter services for GWR but will now form a dedicated Heathrow Express fleet of electric multiple-units.

Bombardier will fit the trains with improved seating, additional luggage space, on-board TV and Wi-Fi, to aid GWR in delivering some of the operational aspects of the airport service after Heathrow’s owner outsourcer the operation to the train operator in a contract running until 2028.

The deal will also see the company fit digital signalling equipment, called ETCS, to the Class 387s – the first-time digital signalling will have been fitted on an existing fleet of electric passenger trains and will result in ‘type approval’ from the ORR which will enable ETCS to be fitted on all Electrostar fleets.

Mary Grant, chief executive of Porterbrook said: "I am delighted that Porterbrook and Bombardier can lead the way in the fitment of digital signalling to Heathrow Express Electrostar trains that connect London to the UK’s gateway to the world.

“This first-in-fleet fitment will enable us to accelerate ETCS fitment on other Electrostar fleets, as and when our customers require it.”

 Richard Hunter, President Rail Control Solutions at Bombardier Transportation, said it was delighted to be working with Porterbrook, Heathrow and GWR on “an exciting next step in the delivery of the digital railway.”

The engineering and design work will take place at Bombardier’s Litchurch Lane works in Derby and the upgrades and fitting are due to be completed by December 2019.

This is in line with the transport secretary’s commitment to replace the existing rolling stock on the route with digitally enabled and reliable Electrostar trains and will also extend the track access agreement to confirm the Heathrow Express Service until at least 2028.

Director of Heathrow Express, Les Freer, said: “The introduction of a fleet of Class 387 trains specially converted for airport passengers is one of the main benefits of our new partnership with Great Western Railway.

“This helps us build on our 20-year history of excellent customer service as we continue to offer the same fast and frequent non-stop service between Heathrow Airport and London Paddington for years to come.”

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