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First Class 700 arrives in the UK for testing

The first Siemens-built Class 700 Desiro City train for Thameslink has arrived in the UK for testing today (31 July).

It arrived in the early hours of the morning at the newly-built Three Bridges traincare facility near Crawley, West Sussex.

Siemens and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) will now undertake an ‘exhaustive testing programme’ ahead of passenger services beginning in spring 2016. It will initially run between Bedford and Brighton and later on routes to and from Cambridge and Peterborough as well as other destinations in Kent and Sussex.


The delivery of the first train is part of the Thameslink programme of infrastructure improvements and new rolling stock that will ultimately transform north-south travel, reducing crowding and improving reliability. Combined with the redevelopment of London Bridge and a better signalling system (ATO over ETCS, with traffic management), the new trains will allow GTR to run 24 trains per hour through the Thameslink core in central London.

Many of its components are being manufactured by UK suppliers, though the trains themselves are being built in Krefeld, Germany.

Rail minister Claire Perry MP welcomed the investment in building a ‘world-class railway’ and said the first train’s arrival is a “huge step forward” for Thameslink.

They feature intelligent air conditioning, wider doors and open through-carriages that contribute to a more comfortable and accessible travelling experience.


Overall the fleet will double the number of existent carriages in the morning three-hour peak by 2018, providing 80% more seats across central London between Blackfriars and St Pancras.

There will also be significant increase in carriages and seats in other routes, with Brighton seeing 1,000 more seats during busy mornings.

Programme director of the Thameslink Rolling Stock Project at Siemens, Iain Smith, said: “The arrival of the first train into Three Bridges is a real milestone for Thameslink and is a hugely exciting moment for us at Siemens. It signifies major progress toward the transformation of the Thameslink services, a step change in the passenger experience and a real sense of the future.

“We will now be focused on testing and commissioning the train, while GTR trains drivers and maintenance staff to ensure that everything is ready for the start of service next year.”

GTR’s programme director, Keith Wallace, emphasised the many benefits the new Class 700 would bring, from “more frequent services on longer trains to greater capacity, easier access, better on-board information and an altogether better train environment”.

Well-known rail photographer Paul Bigland was there for the arrival, and explained on his blog: “700106 arrived split into three sections. In between the sections (and at each end) were barrier wagons used to provide the brake force to allow the train to move (and stop!). The whole lot had to be split & the sections moved into the main shed using the diesel loco which had brought the train in. Needless to say, this took quite some time & it wasn’t until after 9.00am that the first four cars were moved, gingerly, into the shed.

“Now all that’s left to do is repeat the process 114 times over the next four years…”



Andrew Gwilt   31/07/2015 at 23:54

With the 60 8-Car and 55 12-Car Class 700's to be built. Thameslink will cascade the Class 319's to First Great Western, London Midland and Northern Rail with the Class 700's due to start service from mid/late 2016 or early 2017.

Neil Palmer   01/08/2015 at 07:26

And who knows, the 319's MIGHT find some 25kv wiring to run under when they get to FGW.

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