Latest Rail News


Bombardier to build another 80 Class 387 EMUs for Porterbrook

Rolling stock company Porterbrook Leasing is buying 80 Class 387 Electrostar vehicles from Bombardier to satisfy future demand for mid-distance electric trains.

The units will be built at Bombardier’s Derby depot and will start being delivered on October next year, with full fleet delivery set for June 2017. No customer for the new trains has yet been confirmed, but Porterbrook wants buffer stock as new lines are electrified and other fleets are cascaded.

The big order will also add to recent purchases of 256 Class 387 vehicles, all in four-car arrangements – mostly for Thameslink and Gatwick Express, though 32 will be supplied to Great Western Railway. Other Electrostar variants are in service across southern and eastern England.

According to the ROSCO, a number of operators have already expressed an interest in leasing the fleet – most notably Rail for London (a wholly owned subsidiary for Transport for London, which acts as concession manager for London Overground and Crossrail, and which, as TfL Rail, runs Shenfield to Liverpool Street services), although it claims other bidders for upcoming franchises are also interested.

But it has not revealed which ones, suggesting that the purchase could be largely motivated by the Department for Transport’s expectation for the rolling stock market to invest in new vehicles to satisfy growing capacity requirements in the short and medium term.

Porterbrook also said the EMUs will support the government’s initiative for a Midlands Engine for Growth to sit alongside the Northern Powerhouse.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP said: “This deal is fantastic news, both for East Midland’s booming rail industry, and for passengers, who will benefit from more British-built trains on the rail network in the future.

“Introducing more modern, high-quality trains is central to our commitment to give passengers better journeys and boost economic growth, with more than 3,700 extra carriages set to be introduced across the network by the end of 2019.”

Since the disappointment of losing out to Siemens to build the new fleet for Thameslink, Derby’s Bombardier plant has won a number of major orders – most notably for Crossrail, but also Class 377/6s for Southern.

(Top image: 387101, making runs up and down the Old Dalby test track, c. Resilient Photography)


Jb   03/11/2015 at 13:40

Bravo! At last some more orders for rolling stock to be built by a UK manufacturer thereby securing the industry for the future. I see no reason why this country should ever consider importing foreign built locomotives and rolling stock. We should undoubtedly be self-sufficient in this market - to do otherwise is nationally embarrassing and may invite eventual failure.

Mack   03/11/2015 at 15:39

Think you'll find its 80 vehicles plus another 80 vehicles on order not 80 units.

Pedr   03/11/2015 at 15:54

Have you looked at the stock from the second-largest rolling stock manufacturer in the UK? True, when Hitachi starts in business, it will drop to a sullen third place....

Mrs Disapointed   03/11/2015 at 16:27

So that will be another two years of failed units on the East Anglia region while they once again iron out the software bugs,greatttttttttttt .........

Mikeb   03/11/2015 at 17:36

@Jb. Agree with your sentiments re. rolling stock built in the UK but let's face it, Bombardier's Derby works is basically an assembly plant (similar to the major car companies) whereby major components, manufactured elsewhere in the UK and Europe, are put together and finished for delivery to British TOCs. So there will always be a certain degree of foreign manufacturing in UK train-building. Even Hitachi will be importing certain high-tech components from Japan. Locomotive building in the UK was one the preserve of Brush Traction (now owned by American WABTEC) but they now seem to be only concerned in re-engineering and refurbishing old British designs and have no new-build locomotives on their books. @Pedr. If Bombardier is currently the second largest UK rolling stock builder, Who is the first??

Paul   03/11/2015 at 20:26

Have you any idea how galling this news is for passengers whose unrelieved provision is Class 142s? It appears perfectly OK to build 80 new EMUS speculatively for use in the south east, whilst Pacers must continue to provide disgusting journeys for a further five years elsewhere. It's another case of rail investment in the south, and floor sweepings for the rest of the country.

Lutz   04/11/2015 at 00:20

Don't celebrate too soon; there are developments elsewhere in Bombardier that will bring about changes in the next few years.

Anonymous Widower   04/11/2015 at 09:35

This order intrigues me! Could the TfL interest be a red herring, as why would they need 110 mph EMUs. There have been rumours, that some of the Class 387s going to GWR will be IPEMUs with batteries to serve Oxford, Bedwyn and Marlowe using what is working of the electrification. The IPEMU technology works as anybody who rode the prototype , like I did, in Essex knows. And all Aventras will be able to fitted with this technology. A Class 387 IPEMU could do Liverpool to Newcastle tomorrow, as there is only 43 miles of unelectrified track, which is well within the capability of the technology. One could also do St. Pancras to Corby and Leicester with perhaps some small amount of wiring. So where does London fit in? I wouldn't be surprised if these trains were used to route-prove the technology on Gospel Oak to Barking. After all the contractor for that line; Murphy, is not noted as someone for putting up wires. I suspect all will be revealed in Osborne's Autumn Statement on the 25th of November.

Richard Putley   04/11/2015 at 13:34

As yet no EMUs have been ordered for the Bristol area commuter services that will go over to electric operation when the GWR electrification is eventually finished. As I understand it, the present Cardiff - Taunton service will be replaced by a Cardiff - Bath - Swindon service. 387s would be ideal for this. With their double doors and 110mph top speed I bet a 387 would be faster than an IEP between London and Bristol.

Nonsuchmike   05/11/2015 at 13:35

Several months ago Ian Brown wrote a highly readable article expressing concern about the lack of diesel provision for the next 5 - 10 years, notwithstanding the orders for all electric and mixed use rolling stock either in the pipeline for orders or else imminent and discounting the current rate of electrification nationwide. It served as a warning to ignore these concerns at a price. And now we are paying the price for planners not heeding such an articulate apologist: poor stock still having human sardines squeezed into them without the benefit of oil or tomato sauce, trying to satisfy a train scheduled to take passengers who should be provided with at least a four if not five coach train, having to suffer in a two coach coffin. Please listen to our acknowledged experts. Please put down extra steel on the ground and provide extra, longer, more frequent trains. And please train more drivers and staff to man these services.

Add your comment

Rail industry Focus

View all News


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

29/06/2020On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

Following an independent audit, Sulzer’s Nottingham Service Centre has been accepted as part of the rail industry supplier approval scheme (RISAS). The accreditation reinforces the high-quality standards that are maintained by Sulzer’s... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projects across the UK, Pearson Business School, part of... more >