First of 270 GTR Electrostar Trains Back in Service after Modernisation

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is modernising 270 Class 377 and Class 387 Bombardier Electrostar trains in its fleet. The first updated unit (a Class 377) has now returned to passenger service.

The modernisation programme is costing a total of 55 million GBP. Govia Thameslink Railway operates the Southern, Gatwick Express and Great Northern franchise, the largest railway franchise in the UK. Furthermore, GTR has the UK’s largest fleet of Electrostars, which is the most common type of electric train in the country since British Rail was privatised and the franchises were introduced in the 1990s.

The first modernised Electrostar in the GTR fleet
The first modernised Electrostar in the GTR fleet

The modernised Electrostar now has new real-time passenger information screens as well as at-seat charging facilities. Engineers installed LED lighting and passenger counting technology. The train also has been equipped with on-board monitoring capabilities and a fault diagnosis system in order to streamline maintenance activities.

The modernisation programme is taking place at GTR’s Selhurst Depot in south London. The first train upgrade was completed on 5 February. The programme means GTR’s fleet will have standardised features, allowing engineers to streamline routine maintenance and repairs. One new feature is the on-board data recorder, which will help predict and diagnose faults. As a result, some problems can be addressed without sending the train back to the depot. CCTV cameras mounted on the front of the train will film the track to help analyse incidents.

The 55 million GBP maintenance programme is being paid for by the fleet’s owner, Porterbrook.

Steve Lammin, Engineering Director, GTR, said:

“These Electrostars are great trains. Taking on board our passengers’ feedback, this comprehensive upgrade will provide an even better on-board experience and more reliability. Our team at Selhurst Depot has used this first train to develop and learn all the complex processes involved in fitting the new features, guided by the trains’ manufacturer, Bombardier. We’re now testing our new knowledge on the second train, and as we gradually speed up the work, more and more passengers will notice the benefits over the coming years.

“I’m really pleased that GTR is working with Porterbrook and Bombardier to build back a better railway for our customers, in support of the country’s post-coronavirus recovery plan.”

Of the 270 Electrostars, 214 are Class 377s, which are between 15 and 20 years old. These deliver suburban and commuter services on the Southern network between London, Surrey, Sussex and the south coast. The remaining 56 EMUs are Class 387s. They first entered service in 2014. They carry passengers on the Great Northern and Gatwick Express routes.

Mary Grant, Chief Executive Officer, Porterbrook, said:

“We are committed to supporting GTR in meeting the expectations of today’s customers. Porterbrook will be investing a total of £100m in upgrading our entire Electrostar fleet, operated by GTR, over the coming years. This initial £55m investment will deliver significantly enhanced passenger facilities, as well as improve train reliability through the use of data analytics. I am also delighted that GTR’s own highly skilled Selhurst Depot team will be delivering this upgrade programme on our behalf.”

Research led by Transport Focus about passenger priorities has fed into the upgrade plan.

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