Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The future is here- Thameslink launches the class 700

700108 arrives into East Croydon with the 14:45 Brighton to London Bridge service on the second day of class 700 operation.
Standard class seating on the class 700.
One of the final pieces in the Thameslink Program puzzle has finally entered service with the first passenger run of the Siemens class 700 'Desiro City' on Monday 20th June 2016.
The class 700 is due to replace class 319, 377 and 387 on the Thameslink route by 2018 with the trains running in both 8 and 12 car fixed formations.
The trains are some of the most advanced running in the UK featuring full length gangways, ERTMS signalling and in addition to being fitted for Driver Only Operation are also fitted with an Automatic Train Operating system which will allow the trains to be controlled automatically through the Thameslink core, enabling the advertised peak frequency of 24 trains per hour.
For the passenger the trains feature comfortable (if thin) 2+2 seating throughout with luggage areas and five toilets per 12 coach set (one of which is fully accessible). Large windows make the trains feel very light and airy and an advanced live information system provides journey details as well as information about onward connections, availability of toilets and which ares of the train are busiest. The first class sections of the train are fitted with tables and power points.
Intelligent data displays show the passenger loadings on board.
First class at each end of the train offers additional comforts.
While it is always great to see new rolling stock and the 700's will undoubtedly provide increased capacity on the Thameslink route it is unfortunately another train which is really rather uninspiring. This of course is a product of their function- these trains are not designed for comfort over long distances (despite a journey time of over 2 1/2 hours from Bedford to Brighton) but for shorter commuter journeys where space is at a premium. The Thameslink service through London's core (between Blackfriars and St Pancras) is a slick high frequency operation with heavy rail trains running as frequently as tubes on many routes. Commuters perhaps should be grateful that the spartan interiors have not abandoned cushioned seating altogether and gone for solid plastic bench seating as is common in many other European cities on rail operations of this nature. With all new trains of course the real test is what the passengers think, and we may have to wait a while yet before the fleet sees full squadron service.

A brand new train at an almost brand new London Bridge station. When the Thameslink Program is complete 24 class 700 trains per hour will run on the core route between Blackfriars and St Pancras.

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