Great Northern unveils refurbished carriages for Fen Line

Great Northern passengers are set for an improved rail experience after it was today announced that new carriages with air-conditioning and wi-fi will be rolled out across services on the King’s Lynn – Cambridge Fen Line route.

On top of that, the operator, a part of Govia Thameslink Railway, will also add more trains onto its services when it begins to implement its new timetable on 21 May. This is the same day that Network Rail will open a new station at Cambridge North to serve the Cambridge Business Park.

The new carriages will replace 22-year-old trains and is part of a plan to replace three-quarters of the Great Northern fleet by 2020. Those that remain will go through a £30m refurbishment.

The trains at Cambridge North will be a mixture of the modern air-conditioned Class 387 carriages which have been running to and from Cambridge since last autumn, as well as the existing Class 365 trains.

Interior of new train at Kings Lynn

Great Northern’s passenger services director, Stuart Cheshire, said: “As we head into summer, these modern air-conditioned trains will keep passengers as cool as a cucumber.

“We think passengers will love the wi-fi that we’ll be adding in the coming months and the on-board information systems and power points at every pair of seats.”

Cheshire also stated that Network Rail is working to upgrade power supplies and lengthen platforms by the end of next year at Watlington, Littleport and Waterbeach, which will allow Great Northern to double the length of these trains to eight carriages in order to increase capacity.

“Crucially, although most of the four-carriage King’s Lynn trains cannot stop at Cambridge North until platforms are lengthened at Watlington, Littleport and Waterbeach, these one dozen extra King’s Cross trains at Ely should ease crowding on the King's Lynn services which will be a real boon for our passengers,” he concluded.

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Matthew Read   02/05/2017 at 19:20

What refurbished carriages are they going to refurbish the 387's because those astro seats are in poor condition.

Andrew Gwilt   02/05/2017 at 19:41

As Great Northern have received 29 Class 387/1's from Thameslink. Will the DC conductor shoebox be removed and the Class 387/1's to be operated on AC 25kv Overhead plus Great Northern could also replace the Class 365's but to keep some of the Class 365's in the long run.

David   03/05/2017 at 00:09

Not sure what the plan is with the third rail shoes but I don't believe retaining them would cause any significant issue. At least 19 365s will be retained but there isn't an obvious home for the remaining 21. Regarding the seats, they're a million times better than the Class 317s. Much better posture.

David   03/05/2017 at 00:11

The Class 387s for GWR are being fitted with third rail shoes, although they will not be used outside of testing. So I imagine that the GN units will be keeping theirs for consistency.

Andrew Gwilt   03/05/2017 at 02:08

The Class 387's won't be allowed to use the Moorgate Line because of the tunnel is quite small and the 3-Car Class 313's can easily fit through the small tunnel between Drayton Park and Moorgate and vise versa because it's designed as a metro built units that are smaller and can go underground. But Siemens are to build the new 6-Car Class 717's Desiro City trains that will be designed to fit through the small tunnel on the Moorgate Line to & from Moorgate and are to replace the Class 313's from next year.

Andrew Gwilt (Continued)   03/05/2017 at 02:10

As I was thinking about the Class 387's that could be used on the Moorgate Line but it's not allowed because of the tunnels are too small.

David   03/05/2017 at 10:40

The tunnels being too small is an urban myth, as the Class 717s are the same cross-sectional size as the Class 700s. The only reason why a Class 700 could not be used to Moorgate is because they are too long. And surely using the Class 387s on Moorgate trains defeats the whole point of bringing them over to Great Northern, which is to enhance the service north of Cambridge.

M.   03/05/2017 at 10:53

The Class 387/1s retain their shoegear. It is a retractable design and on the GN fleet is secured in the raised position. They could, in theory, go to Moorgate, there being no issue with tunnel size (the smaller bodyshell of the 313 is to do with being a common design with the Merseyside Class 507, where the tunnels are smaller in diameter). Class 73s and Mk1/Mk2 vehicles have been to Moorgate (NR Measurement Trains). The issues are that they have externally-opening Plug Doors which may have gauge issues in the open position, and (most importantly) they would not be allowed in normal traffic due to not being fitted with Tripcock/Trainstop equipment - the NCL does not have TPWS.

David   03/05/2017 at 12:17

M, I've heard that a London Overground Class 378 has apparently traversed the NCL during an engineering possession in the past, would you happen to have any more information on this? Out of curiosity alone.

Andrew Gwilt   03/05/2017 at 16:14

The Class 378 could fit through the tunnels on the Moorgate Line because Bombardier have built the Class 378's for London Overground as they replaced the Class 313's on the North London Line and West London Line and Class 507/508's on the Watford-Euston DC line. If Bombardier could of built more of the smaller Electrostar EMU's just like the Class 378's. It would replace the Class 313's on the Moorgate Line and to operate to Hertford North and Letchworth to & from Moorgate. But next year. The new Class 717's will be built and delivered and to replace the Class 313's on the Moorgate Line. With the Class 313's transferred to Southern to work on the West Coastway and East Coastway routes with the current Class 313's already operated on those routes.

M.   04/05/2017 at 11:07

David - sorry, no idea about that. I do know Mk2s have been down there... Andrew - The Moorgate Tunnels are to full gauge - or close enough. They are not significantly smaller in cross-section than many other single-bore tunnels and bridges on the non-OHLE network. There is nothing significantly structurally different about the Class 378 from the similar Class 376 other than a door in the cab-end. Class 313s were only built smaller as the Merseyrail tunnels are smaller, and BR wanted to use the same bodyshell design for the 313s as the 507s. The Class 717 bodyshell will be based on the existing Class 700 design, with a door added in the cab-end.

Huguenot   04/05/2017 at 12:27

I shall be sorry to see the Class 365s go. Apart from their lack of air-conditioning (although the driver has it!) they've been a good workhorse and, once refurbished, have plenty of life left in them yet. How about sending them to Corby once electrification north of Bedford is complete?

Andrew Gwilt   06/05/2017 at 12:35

Ah that is why the Class 717's will be built to replace the Class 313's as Siemens have designed the Class 717's so it can fit through the tunnels. Right.

David   07/05/2017 at 10:48

Andrew, like M has stated, the Class 717 is based on the Class 700 bodyshell, the only significant difference being the cab-end doors owing to the single bore tunnels. Test trains have been down the line and I imagine that a shortened Class 700 would be able to access it too.

Andrew Gwilt   07/05/2017 at 17:32

I do understand now. Thanks.

GW   07/05/2017 at 21:04

The 387's might have air con, but they also have some of the most uncomfortable seats in Britain. Kings Lynn to London - no thanks.

Stewart Kidd   05/07/2017 at 18:44

I've now been using the 387 units for five weeks and am moved to complain about the very uncomfortable seats, the lack of lumbar support and the incredible lateral movement which makes it impossible to work on a keyboard - or even do a crossword on much of the route. I'd gladly give up the A/C -which us often too cold - if we could have the 365's back.

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