A glimmer of hope amid the misery on the railways arrived at Brighton Station yesterday morning with the maiden voyage in passenger service of the new state of the art Thameslink trains.
The new Siemens-built Class 700 train, which it’s hoped will help ease congestion on the Thameslink line as it can hold more passengers, left Brighton for London at 10.02ame and is out again today.
On board the very first service yesterday was Brighton’s Middle Street School who were taking a group of 35 six-year-olds dressed as pirates to see the Golden Hinde in London. Teachers said the new train really added to the excitement.
Anita, a Brighton businesswoman on board, was pleased to hear that peak hour services from Brighton would be run in fixed formation with 12-carriages – half as long again as most Thameslink trains today.
Another passenger, Roger Felkis of Haywards Heath, said: “The wide gangways mean I can get past suitcases without problems. The train’s smooth and comfortable.”
Cyclists returning from yesterday’s London to Brighton bike ride also made use of the dedicated bike storage area.
This is the first of the trains in service. Fixed formation means it cannot be split up into shorter units. Our existing Thameslink trains are made up of four-carriage units so they run as either 8s or 4s. The new trains are either 8s or 12s and cannot be split.
GTR intends to run the 12-carriage trains in the peak from Brighton which it says will mean at least 1,000 extra standard class seats from the town in the morning peak once the new fleet and timetable is introduced.
Ultimately there will be 115 new trains running on an expanded Thameslink network to additional destinations such as Peterborough and Cambridge.
The train is in service again today. Capable of carrying up to 1,750 people, it is helping move people from Brighton affected by the Southern strike.
A spokesman for Thameslink said: “We are thrilled that our new Siemens-built Thameslink train is performing well as it make ita maiden voyages between Brighton and London Bridge. In future, as the train continues to prove itself, we will begin running it across London to Bedford.
“Ultimately the train will give passengers much-needed additional capacity with longer trains throughout the rush-hour, creating at least 1,000 extra standard class seats.”