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GTR replaces UK’s oldest electric fleet with new £240m Class 717 trains

A new £240m fleet of Class 717 trains has been entered into service by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to replace the UK’s oldest electric rail fleet.

GTR has deployed the first two of its new Class 717 rolling stock from Siemens, with a total of 25 of the new six-carriage trains due to run on the Great Northern routes by late summer.

The routes between Moorgate and Hertfordshire and to and from Stevenage, Hertford North, and Welwyn Garden City have until now used Class 313 trains which first entered service in 1976.

The Class 717s are designed to accommodate new signalling systems and were due to be launched in January but this was delayed as signals at some stations could not be clearly seen from the driver’s seat.

GTR, which was recently fined £5m by the ORR for its communication in the May 2018 timetable chaos, said a second member of staff will travel in the cab to view signals as a temporary measure until the signals are re-positioned by Network Rail.

The train operator said the old “cramped and outdated” trains, which are mainland Britain’s oldest electric trains, have travelled 3 million miles since they were first introduced, and have carried over 460 million passengers.

Old and new at Hornsey depot

The new 100mph trains will see an 11% increase in capacity for each journey (100 people) and bring new features such as interconnected carriages like a bendy bus, the latest accessibility features, and a brand new ‘snow mode.’

Gerry McFadden, GTR’s engineering director said: “We are transforming our passengers’ journeys by replacing their cramped, outdated 40-year-old trains, which are the oldest electrical units in mainland Britain, with fully-accessible, spacious, modern air-conditioned units with the latest in passenger information, onboard WiFi and power points at every pair of seats.”

Interior of new Moorgate train 25.03.19

The trains were financed by Rock Rail Moorgate, a joint venture between Aberdeen Standards Investment and Rock Rail, to be leased to GTR.

Rock Rail’s CEO, Mark Swindell, said it was proud to be working to drive better value for the UK taxpayer and the government with a fleet financed with direct long-term investment from pension and insurance companies for the first time.

Rail minister Andrew Jones commented: “The arrival of the brand-new Class 717 fleet, replacing some of the UK’s oldest trains and delivering more seats and space, complete with WiFi and air-conditioning, is fantastic news for passengers.

“With the number of journeys on our railways having more than doubled in the past 20 years, we are focused on introducing new trains right across the UK, delivering significant improvements in performance, punctuality and capacity.”


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