GTR completes massive investment in new rolling stock

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) this week completed a five-year £2bn programme to transform passenger journeys with more than 1,500 new carriages, turning one of the UK’s oldest fleets into one of the most modern.

On Tuesday, 1 October, Great Northern consigned to history the last of its 42-year-old Class 313 trains that operate on the Moorgate route. All are now modern Class 717s.

Since September 2014 when it launched, GTR has overseen the introduction of four fleets of trains and expanded one other, transforming journeys for thousands of passengers:

  • 116 brand new Class 387/1 carriages (29 units) – initially used on the Thameslink network, now on Great Northern, operating as far as King’s Lynn
  • 108 brand new Class 387/2 carriages (27 units) – serving Gatwick Express between Brighton, Gatwick and London Victoria
  • 1,140 brand new Class 700 carriages (115 units) – serving the entire, expanded Thameslink network
  • 150 brand new Class 717 carriages (25 units) – serving the Great Northern Moorgate route
  • 12 Class 171 carriages (4 units) for Southern – adding to the existing fleet and facilitating the first longer 10-carriage services between Uckfield and London Bridge

GTR has overseen what is thought to be the biggest cascade of rolling stock since privatisation – a total of more than 1,500 new carriages brought into the franchise, and almost 900 cascaded out. A further 880 were cascaded between routes within the network.

GTR Chief Operating Officer Steve White said: “Today is a landmark moment for both GTR and its passengers as we continue to deliver on the industry’s hugely ambitious modernisation programme for our network.

“This £2bn programme of modernisation, much of which formed part of the Thameslink Programme, has transformed services for our passengers. With over 1500 new carriages introduced the average age of our fleet has dropped from 20.4 years to 12.5 years with a net increase of 646 vehicles.

“By bringing in new carriages, we have been able to expand our network, creating space for 50,000 more commuters to and from the capital each rush hour and new direct cross-London journeys to key destinations such as Gatwick Airport, Peterborough, Cambridge and Brighton.

“These trains support the expansion of passenger volume which increased by 22.7m to 341.5m in 2018-19 compared to the year before.”

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “The introduction of new carriages has been one of the biggest upgrades since the privatisation of our railways, replacing one of the UK’s oldest fleets. As a GTR passenger, I’ve regularly commuted on both the old and new trains and, with more space and better passenger information, these trains have significantly improved this service.

“As the number of passenger journeys has more than doubled in the past 20 years, significant investment by both government and train operators is modernising our railway, helping to get our trains running on time.”

GTR together with industry partners Siemens and Network Rail have built or upgraded new depots in Sussex and north London to house and maintain the new trains along with additional and upgraded stabling at locations including Bedford, Cricklewood, Brighton, Horsham and Cambridge.

Engineering Director Gerry McFadden, who led the introduction of the fleet with his team said: “It’s been a huge enterprise that the whole of GTR has been involved in. Collaborative work between our engineering and operations departments and the vehicle owners has enabled the introduction of these trains and ensured they are well maintained and operated correctly.

“Despite the complexities of this network and the sheer number of new trains, which all need bedding in, the GTR fleet is now the second most reliable in the country, contributing to our drive for an ‘on-time railway’.”