Siemens has unveiled a futuristic new train that will help increase peak capacity on one of Europe’s busiest stretches of railway by 80 per cent.
The Siemens Class 700 electric trains, whose interiors appear to look more like those of a spacecraft than a conventional rail carriage, will operate from 2016 on the Thameslink service that runs through London from Bedford to Brighton.
The decision to award Siemens the Thameslink contract was controversial as it threatened the future of the last remaining UK train factory until its owner Bombardier struck an additional deal with Southern Railway.
But Siemens claims the contract to build the 1,140 Thameslink carriages will create up to 2,000 jobs across the UK supply chain in component manufacturing, assembly, construction of new depots and subsequent train maintenance.
The government says the £6.5bn Thameslink upgrade will more than double the number of carriages on the line in central London (between Blackfriars and St Pancras) and provide 80% more peak seats.
Thameslink is currently used by hundreds of thousands of passengers who travel into London every day, and the new trains were designed specifically to improve the service under an £80m Siemens investment programme.
Steve Scrimshaw, managing director of Siemens Rail Systems UK, said in a statement: ‘The innovative design incorporates the feedback of UK train operators, train crew, cleaners and maintainers, as well as dedicated passenger research, helping us turn proven technology and expertise into a state-of-the-art train of the future.’
Cross London Trains, a consortium comprising of Siemens Project Ventures GMbH, Innisfree Limited and 3i infrastructure plc, is financing the new trains and will lease them to the operator of the Thameslink franchise.
The new trains will also release existing rolling stock for use elsewhere on the network, particularly on newly electrified lines in the north west of England and the Thames Valley.