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Confirmation of new stock for Gatwick Express expected

Industry sources suggest an order for 27 four-car Class 387/2s to replace the Class 442 stock on the Gatwick Express route has been placed, or soon will be.

Blogger sparkyscrum shared the above mocked-up photo, telling his readers, via a source at Bombardier: “The order for 27x 4 car 387 units (possibly class 387/2) is rumored to have been placed now with no official word as yet but first image of a 387 in GatEx livery has emerged. The delay in ordering has been put down to Treasury bot signing off on the cost.”

The government has already confirmed that Govia will order 108 carriages for the route to replace the 442s “with a fleet better suited to the needs of airport passengers”.

The Conditions Precedent Agreement relating to the TSGN Franchise Agreement between the transport secretary and GTR Ltd refers to: “Class 387/2 or Class 442 Replacement Units”

The 24 five-car Class 442s were built by BREL at Derby in the late 1980s and were refurbished from 2008, but they have never been ideal stock to run an airport rail link.

Bombardier is currently building 29 four-car Class 387/1s on behalf of Southern, which is managing the £172m procurement although they will ultimately be operated by GTR, running the fast services between Bedford and Brighton from early 2015. Porterbrook Leasing will be the ROSCO.

Twelve units are fully built, some of which are ready to start the fault-free running process at Bletchley, and units 13-16 are on the production line at Derby. 

Southern’s fleet overhaul and projects manager Iain Nairne, overseeing the procurement, told RTM: “The build of the trains is well advanced and we’re on target from that perspective. The process now is to start fault-free running and to start introducing the trains into service once that’s been concluded.

“Compared to the [Class] 319 trains that they will replace, they are a significant improvement.”

The 387/1s were a stopgap order for Thameslink services because of the delays in procurement of the Siemens-built Class 700s, to ensure the existing electric stock can be cascaded to newly-electrified routes in time. Several Class 319s are already at Allerton depot ahead of a refurbishment to run on electrified Northern routes.

Northern said the refurb work is being carried out at Wolverton by Knorr-Bremse under a Porterbrook contract, and Northern has also contracted Interfleet to undertake additional modifications. Refresh work on the trains includes: an exterior and interior repaint; refurbishment of seating; and fitting of door controls through all vehicles to allow conductor door operation from anywhere within the train.

Northern is reported to have told the Transport for Greater Manchester Rail & Metrolink Committee that the 319s will also get a new passenger information system and LED lighting. Four units were to be ready for December 2014; two in passenger traffic and two for maintenance spare and training.

More on the introduction of the Class 387/1s in the next edition of RTM.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Observer   24/10/2014 at 12:27

The wheel turns again and everyone claps....but the king has no clothes - we had brand new purpose built (tax payer funded) GatEx stock which was withdrawn and has since been expensively rebuilt for another operator. Meanwhile the "unsuitable" replacement trains now need normal business would work this way.

Phil Cooper   24/10/2014 at 12:29

What is their future of the class 442 units? I always thought they were a strange choice for the Gatwick Express service due to their narrow doors. They would be suitable for the fast Victoria - Brighton service.

RTM   24/10/2014 at 12:57

Good point Phil, though we haven't had any confirmation so far.

Gabriel Oaks   27/10/2014 at 12:31

The 442 stock only become available to Southern as SWT were unwilling to continuing paying a higher leasing cost than the 444 units. 442 stock is unsuited for use in Sussex (the Gatwick Express service is likely to run half-hourly to Brighton) or Kent so unless a deal is struck (including a traction overhaul) it is likely to be withdrawn. Whether the 387/2 stock will be compatible with 377 stock is another question....

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