- Direct services to new central London stations and Gatwick from May
- increasingly thousands more peak hour seats – from May.
Rail passengers at Peterborough, Huntingdon, St Neots, Sandy, Biggleswade, Arlesey, Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park will on Monday (6 November) have the first chance to ride two new cutting-edge Thameslink trains that are so smart they tell passengers how the Tube is running and where to find more space onboard.
For now, the trains will continue to run on two peak hour services to and from King’s Cross but from May they and many others operating to Peterborough and Cambridge will start to operate through new tunnels to St Pancras. This will give passengers not only quicker, direct journeys to new central London stations and Gatwick Airport and beyond but also, increasingly, thousands more seats in the peaks through longer trains and additional services.
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is introducing the Siemens-built trains as it delivers its modernisation upgrade through the government-sponsored Thameslink Programme. When timetable changes start to be introduced from 2018 they represent the culmination of years of complex work to build the foundations of new capacity and routes providing an incremental step change in service improvements for the years to come.
GTR is replacing 75% of the fleet on Great Northern bringing in modern, air-conditioned trains. The new Thameslink trains are some of those trains that GTR is replacing.
- The Thameslink trains have a spacious design and cutting-edge passenger information systems that give passengers London Tube updates and tell them where to find more space on the train
- they have wider doors and aisles to make getting on and off easier and quicker
- spacious walkways between carriages make it easier to move through the train to give a greater sense of security
- two-by-two seating creates more room
- there are fully accessible toilets for disabled passengers and those with pushchairs or needing baby changing facilities
- spaces for full sized bikes in the off-peak; storage for fold-up bikes in the peak.
From May next year this train and others like it will start to run through new tunnels to join the cross-London Thameslink route to give passengers:
- new direct services to the following central London stations:
- St Pancras International
- Farringdon (connections with Crossrail’s Elizabeth Line to Heathrow and Canary Wharf from December 2018)
- City Thameslink (for the City)
- London Blackfriars (for the City, the South Bank, Tate Modern and Globe Theatre)
- London Bridge (for connections to Kent and south London)
- new direct links to Gatwick Airport
- a quicker and more efficient travel experience, saving passengers’ time by reducing the need to use the Tube.
GTR engineering director Gerry McFadden said: ‘These first new Thameslink trains on the Great Northern route are a shape of things to come and feature the latest in technology. Their introduction is part of a broader fleet modernisation programme that has seen most of our older trains withdrawn and new trains introduced to Cambridge, Peterborough and King’s Lynn. This will continue into next year with new trains on the Moorgate line.
‘At GTR we’re modernising the railway and starting in May we’ll be giving passengers longer trains and more services to provide vital added seats on a route that has seen a 70% increase in passenger numbers in just 14 years.
‘This increase in capacity, coupled with trains to new central London stations, Crossrail and Gatwick Airport, will transform the lives of thousands.’
Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: ‘Improving rail services is a priority for the government, which is why we are making the biggest investment in the network since Victorian times – including £7bn expanding the Thameslink network which will transform north-south travel across London and the south east.
‘This new fleet of modern trains will provide more space and comfort for passengers and greater access for disabled passengers, while cutting-edge information systems will inform passengers where there are unused seats on the train.’
Railfuture East Anglia branch chairman Nick Dibben said: ‘Many commuters will have seen these new trains in the sidings in recent months so will be looking forward to trying them out in real life. The new information screens will help people find a seat and I look forward to the new cross London services and extra seating that will be provided from next May.’
Vernon Barker, managing director for Rail Systems at Siemens, said: ‘The Class 700 trains are some of the most advanced trains operating in the UK and are increasingly delivering more comfortable and reliable journeys in and out of London. With the launch of these additional routes, more passengers will be able to experience the full benefits of these modern and innovative trains.’