London’s Mayor Boris Johnson has referred to them as ‘sleek’, ‘feature-packed’ and ‘eye-catching’ machines.
The Class 345 electric multiple units (EMUs) on order for Crossrail are something, to quote Johnson, “that showcases the best of British design and engineering”.
Ordered in February 2014, 66 of these 200-metre-long nine-car trains will enter service on the £14.9 billion cross-London scheme from 2017, including the extra train that was ordered following confirmation that Crossrail services would be extended to Reading.
Peter Doolin, Bombardier Transportation’s Vice President Projects, Crossrail & London Underground, said: “Bombardier is delighted to be working with TfL in designing, manufacturing and testing these iconic new trains for London - all done here in the UK.
“The Crossrail trains are based on our very latest Aventra product platform, which we’re proud to say has been designed and developed as a technology leading train for the UK.
“We look forward to continuing to work together with TfL on this flagship project to deliver these new trains for London.”
The Class 345s will be used, initially in 160 metre long formation, on the Shenfield-Liverpool Street Metro services, replacing EMUs dating from the early-1980s. It will mark the beginning of a significant improvement in service quality.
The design was unveiled in late 2015, the result of a close collaboration between Bombardier and Crossrail, and Johnson said of the Class 345s: “It’s fantastic to think that these sleek new trains will soon be transporting millions of people across our great city and beyond.
“They’ll add vital capacity to our rail network and will help to ensure our economy continues to get stronger. The largest construction project in Europe is another tantalising step closer to becoming a new working railway for the Capital.”
The Crossrail project is designed to help a city desperate for an increase in capacity. It will boost central London’s rail capacity by 10% while also supporting regeneration, and cutting journey times across the city. It is estimated that, annually, 200 million people will use Crossrail services.
The railway itself will be more than 100km long, running from Reading and Heathrow Airport in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. It will run underneath central London through new tunnels, and using existing infrastructure on the Great Eastern and Great Western Main Lines.
A maintenance facility is being constructed at Old Oak Common for the new fleet, with servicing initially undertaken at Ilford where Bombardier already has a presence.
Crossrail will bring an extra 1.5m people to within 45 minutes of central London, link London’s key employment, leisure and business districts, including Heathrow, the West End, the City and Docklands, and enable further economic development to the tune of £42bn for the UK’s economy.
While Class 345 will begin running on the Great Eastern route from May next year, the first through services under London will begin in late 2018.
The new Class 345s are being constructed by Bombardier at its Derby Litchurch Lane site; cars are already on the assembly line and the first train will start its high speed testing this summer. The contract benefits not only London, but also employment in the East Midlands, directly supporting 760 jobs and 80 apprenticeships. It is estimated that when complete, Crossrail will have had a positive impact on 55,000 UK jobs throughout the supply chain.