Class 377 Electrostars will operate Kings Lynn and Cambridge fast trains as part of the new Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise which takes over from First Capital Connect in September.
The ‘377s’ are currently operated by FCC. They will be cascaded from the Thameslink routes once the large fleet of new Siemens Class 700s comes into service, and become the rolling stock for an expanded Thameslink network, Go-Ahead spokesman Sarah Boundy told RAIL. That starts in 2016.
Class 365s currently operating on the route, and which date from 1995, are to be retained.
However, older Class 317 and Class 321 units, mostly used on peak-time trains to provide extra capacity, will be replaced during 2016. This opens up the possibility of a mass cascade of the BR-built units to newly electrified routes in the north of England, or even the Valley lines in South Wales.
For the time being ‘365s’ will remain on some peak services to and from Peterborough, as well as Cambridge, ahead of new ‘700s’ entering service on a phased basis between 2016 and 2018.
South of the Thames, GTR, which will take in the existing Southern franchise and brand next year, will continue operating ten-car formations on the busiest trains (as introduced recently by Southern). These will comprise a mix of Class 377s and ‘455s’, with GTR planning to reduce the use of the older ‘455s’ (the first batch date from 1982) on these routes by 2018.
The displaced three-car Class 313s that currently serve Moorgate, and which will be replaced by 150 new carriages in 2018 (RAIL 750), “will be completely withdrawn” said Boundy. She added: “What happens to them after will be a matter for the leasing companies.”
The ‘313s’ currently operated on the Moorgate route are owned by Eversholt Leasing. It is unclear whether the type, dating from 1976/77, will move to newly electrified lines elsewhere.
During 2015, some of the older Class 319s in use on the Brighton Main Line will be released to go to Northern. They will be replaced by new-build Class 387s on an interim basis, before the entire Thameslink fleet is replaced entirely by ‘700s’.
On the Wimbledon Loop, ‘319s’ will be gradually replaced by ‘700s’ on a phased basis between 2016 and 2018, increasing total capacity by around 50% in the three-hour morning peak.
Additional capacity, in the form of 14 extra carriages, will also be provided on the busy Uckfield-London Bridge route “as soon as possible”, although this will depend on suitable DMUs becoming available (likely to be Class 170 Turbostars) following progress of electrification in other parts of the UK.
It is not clear where the extra DMUs could come from at present, although similar units to the Class 171s currently in use on the Uckfield route are in operation at London Overground, TransPennine Express, Abellio Greater Anglia, CrossCountry and ScotRail.
Boundy said: “We want to introduce these as early as possible in the franchise.”
Asked by RAIL whether GTR had a specific date in mind, she added: “We’re hoping to have them introduced well before the end of 2016.”