Nineteen tri-mode Class 769 Flex units will enter traffic with Great Western Railway from Spring 2019.
They will be able to operate using third-rail, overhead wires or diesel engines, and will be used initially to support GWR’s introduction of refurbished Class 387/1s on Heathrow Express.
They will feature free WiFi and power at every seat. The trains will be fitted with air-cooling, extra luggage space and new seat covers.
GWR said in a statement: “Initially, the fleet will support the introduction of refreshed trains on Heathrow Express services, but will be predominantly be used on routes between Reading and Gatwick, and Reading and Oxford, where the train’s tri-mode can be used to its fullest. However, the tri-mode nature of the train will give GWR maximum flexibility to use them in other areas of the network should they be required.
“Final details of exactly how and where the new fleet will be used are currently being drawn up, and expected to be finalised later this year.”
GWR Managing Director, Mark Hopwood said: “We are already delivering the biggest fleet upgrade in a generation across the Great Western network, but today’s news shows we have not stopped looking at ways to improve our service for customers by adding extra capacity to our network.”
Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook, said: “These trains will offer GWR greater operational flexibility with reduced operating costs; at the same time their conversion and upgrade will see skilled engineering jobs secured in the UK supply chain.”
The four-car trains will be converted from redundant Class 319 electric multiple units. This releases a similar number of Class 165/’166’ Turbos for use in the Bristol area.
- The FULL story will appear in RAIL 852, published on May 9, and available digitally from May 5 on Android/iPad.
- To read about the initial Flex concept, read RAIL 818, available digitally.