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Driver Michael DeVries and passenger Samantha Radford at Gordon Hill on the first new Moorgate train in passenger service.
The 25 six-carriage Class 717 trains will replace mainland Britain’s oldest electric trains, the 40-year-old Class 313s, with a phased introduction due to run from late autumn this year to spring next year.As well as air conditioning, Wi-Fi and power points, the new trains, built by Siemens with innovative funding by Rock Rail, will provide a 27% increase in capacity to address the near-doubling of passenger numbers on Great Northern in 14 years.The new fleet will operate between Moorgate and Hertfordshire, to and from Stevenage, Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City. Friday’s trip left Moorgate from Moorgate to Gordon Hill.First passenger on board, Samantha Radford of Gordon Hill, said: “This is better for commuting, it’s so spacious. I will probably favour this with its air conditioning and better layout over the Underground; I think the air conditioning is a huge comfort issue, especially for anyone with small children or a health condition – it is going to make a massive difference. I also like the Wi-Fi and the fact you can charge your phone.”Gerry McFadden, Director of Engineering at Great Northern’s operator Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “These spacious new trains are a key part of our RailPlan 20/20 programme to modernise services in the South East. The Class 717s will transform journeys for passengers on our busy metro services into Moorgate.“They will all be the maximum length for this route and feature air conditioning as well as power points, Wi-Fi and real-time passenger information screens to make travelling with Great Northern a much more comfortable and convenient experience.
“Wide doors and spacious interiors will help address the huge increase in passenger numbers into Moorgate, and also help passengers board and alight promptly, helping us keep trains running on time.
“We will maintain these trains at our Hornsey depot, where a multi-million pound investment is providing the new facilities and equipment.“We took the first units on lease only the day before, and we are delighted to have achieved this important milestone of our first preview passenger service within a day. Doing so is a testament to the incredibly good collaboration between Siemens, GTR and Network Rail on this project and the very effective new train introduction project management team we have in GTR.”GTR has introduced more new trains into passenger service in the past three years than all other operators in the UK combined.William Wilson, Managing Director of Siemens Rolling Stock UK, said: “Siemens has built these trains with one goal in mind – to transform passenger journeys to and from London by ensuring that services are reliable, and offer as much pace as possible. The Class 717 has modern carriages with increased capacity for passengers and is equipped with air conditioning, Wi-Fi and power points.”Mark Swindell, Chief Executive Officer of Rock Rail, said: “This first preview run of the Class 717 train with passengers represents an exciting milestone in the successful delivery of the first of the fleets owned by Rock Rail and equity partner Aberdeen Standard Investments.“We are proud to be part of a collaboration with Govia Thameslink Railway and Siemens and with our investor partners to drive better value for the UK tax payer and government and to deliver step changes in improved capability, services and travelling experiences for passengers on the Great Northern services between Moorgate and Hertfordshire.”
This article first appeared on www.focustransport.org
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