The first of 270 trains in Govia Thameslink Railway’s (GTR’s) £55 million fleet modernisation programme has returned to service with a host of new features designed to improve passengers’ journeys.
The trains form the UK’s biggest fleet of ‘Electrostars’, the most common type of electric-powered train built since rail privatisation in the 1990s. The Derby-built, air-conditioned trains have been very successful and GTR’s Electrostars have been in service for up to 20 years.
The first updated train emerged from GTR’s Selhurst Depot in south London on 5 February. Its enhancements range from new information screens, USB/power points and energy-saving LED lighting to passenger-counting technology and high-tech on-board operational systems that cut the time trains spend out of service for maintenance or repair.
The screens will display up-to-the minute GTR and London Underground service information. The passenger-counting sensors will allow GTR to better analyse how busy individual services are, helping to adjust timetables to support essential travel and social distancing.
Bringing every train up to the same modern standards, with common features across the whole fleet, allows GTR’s engineers to streamline routine maintenance and repairs. That keeps each Electrostar out in service for longer, reducing delays and cancellations. To accelerate maintenance and improve reliability still further, a new “smart” On-Train Data Recorder will help predict and diagnose faults – which means that some problems can be fixed without returning to the depot – and CCTV cameras will film the track in front of the train to help analyse incidents that delay the service.
The £55 million programme is funded by Porterbrook, the train owner from whom GTR leases the fleets.
GTR’s Engineering Director Steve Lammin said:
“These Electrostars are great trains. Taking on board our passengers’ feedback, this comprehensive upgrade will provide an even better on-board experience and more reliability. Our team at Selhurst Depot has used this first train to develop and learn all the complex processes involved in fitting the new features, guided by the trains’ manufacturer, Bombardier. We’re now testing our new knowledge on the second train, and as we gradually speed up the work, more and more passengers will notice the benefits over the coming years.
“I’m really pleased that GTR is working with Porterbrook and Bombardier to build back a better railway for our customers, in support of the country’s post-coronavirus recovery plan.”
Mary Grant, Porterbrook Chief Executive Officer, said:
“We are committed to supporting GTR in meeting the expectations of today’s customers. Porterbrook will be investing a total of £100m in upgrading our entire Electrostar fleet, operated by GTR, over the coming years. This initial £55m investment will deliver significantly enhanced passenger facilities, as well as improve train reliability through the use of data analytics. I am also delighted that GTR’s own highly skilled Selhurst Depot team will be delivering this upgrade programme on our behalf.”
The majority of GTR’s Electrostars (214 of the 270) are ‘Class 377s’, between 15 and 20 years old, which provide suburban and commuter services on the Southern network between London, Surrey, Sussex and the south coast. GTR will also upgrade the 56 relatively new ‘Class 387s’ on Great Northern and Gatwick Express routes to bring all its Electrostars up to the same standards, extending their longevity by ensuring that they meet today’s passenger expectations.
New Season Ticket Calculator launched for Gatwick Express and Southern Rail
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which runs Gatwick Express, Southern and Southeastern have worked together to launch a new online Season Ticket Calculator, providing passengers with greater transparency when it comes to choosing tickets and fares.
The Season Ticket Calculator enables commuters with flexible work schedules to identify and buy the right ticket for the number of days they want to travel.
And from 21 June, the calculator will include the new national Flexi Season ticket, available to book across the country. The new tickets can be used for travel from 28 June.
Commuters choose the number of days per week they plan on travelling over a selected period of weeks or months, and the Season Ticket Calculator will identify the most cost-effective package over peak travel times.
Adam Phayer, Head of Retail at Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “We’re ready to welcome people back to rail and recognise many will be working very differently from the way they did before the pandemic.
“The new national Flexi Season ticket will offer passengers more choice for how they want to travel to work and may be the best option for those travelling two to three days a week.
“Our online Season Ticket Calculator will help people find the option that’s right for their journey and travel pattern each week.”
John Backway, Head of Retail at Southeastern, comments: “As restrictions lift and we start to welcome more and more passengers onto our network, we want to ensure that the process of identifying the best fare is a seamless experience. The new Season Ticket Calculator will help to build a more transparent ticket-buying process for our passengers, helping everyone to make an informed choice, and one that is best for them.”
Passengers with both companies have access to alerts which show busy trains in online journey planners such as National Rail Enquiries, where you can also subscribe to journey alerts and see information on busier services. Southeastern also offers on-demand information through its WhatsApp service, which provides real-time updates direct from Southeastern’s control room – from the number of carriages a train has to questions about potential delays.
People can view the Season Ticket Calculators by navigating to the tickets section of the Southern website.