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Revamped depot ready for new fleet of trains

15/01/2009

Air-con carriages a vital step in Thameslink Programme

London , 15 January 2009: Train operator First Capital Connect has finished extending a depot ready to stable and maintain a new fleet of air-conditioned trains that will boost capacity and introduce new levels of comfort to the Bedford to Brighton Thameslink route.

The first Class 377 Electrostar trains are due to enter service early this year. By the time all 92 carriages arrive later in 2009 all but six rush hour trains will be the maximum eight-carriages long. Today, shortage of stock means that 25 peak hour services have only four carriages.

MD Elaine Holt said at the official opening of the £2.2 million extension at the depot in Cauldwell Walk, Bedford: “FCC and its contractors Fitzpatrick have completed this to time and budget in just eight months even though they had to work in a very constricted site with staff and trains working around them day in, day out.

“And in a welcome boost to the local economy, we’ve employed an extra 27 engineers to man the improved depot, many from Bedford, Milton Keynes and surrounding towns.”

The depot now has a fifth enclosed section of track with inspection pits and elevated platforms from which the new trains – as well as the old – can be maintained.

“It’s absolutely essential,” said depot manager Jason Long. “When this depot was built, in 2004, it had to maintain only 172 carriages. We’ll have 436 by the time the last new train arrives!”

The new carriages are also an essential part of the Thameslink Programme that will radically transform capacity on the route. They are needed to operate a new timetable that will allow Network Rail to begin work transforming Blackfriars Railway station so it can take 50% longer, 12-carriage trains.

ends

View our footage of the new Bedford depot extension

Bedford depot

Picture caption: I declare this extended depot open! First Capital Connect MD Elaine Holt and depot manager Jason Long open the new depot extension which will service a new fleet of trains to improve capacity and comfort on the Thameslink Bedford to Brighton route. Berthed alongside is one of two existing Thameslink trains. This has been painted in a striking new brand to publicise the Thameslink Programme, encouraging customers to check before they travel at www.thameslinkprogramme.co.uk (see earlier news release)

Editor’s notes

1. Bombardier is building the 23 four-carriage new Class 377 trains at Britain’s last remaining train manufacturing plant in Derby. The first train is expected to enter service in early 2009.

2. Bedford Cauldwell Walk Traction and Rolling Stock Maintenance Depot was built on a former ballast pit in 2004 to accommodate 43 Class 319 four-carriage Thameslink trains (172 carriages). These had formerly been maintained at Selhurst depot near Crystal Palace in south London but were effectively ‘trapped’ north of St Pancras when the route across London was closed for the construction of St Pancras International.

3. When First Capital Connect took over the Thameslink route franchise in 2006 the depot was used to maintain the entire Thameslink fleet of Class 319 fleet of 76 four-carriage units operating north and south of the capital.

4. Bedford Cauldwell Walk depot now maintains 82 Class 319 four-carriage units (328 carriages). A further four Class 319 units (16 carriages) and 23 new 377s (92 carriages) are arriving this year after which time Bedford will be maintaining 109 units (436 carriages).

5. Before the £2.2 million project, Bedford Cauldwell Walk depot had four track ‘roads’ for maintaining four-carriage train units and a further four for stabling. One of the stabling roads has now been rebuilt and covered to accommodate a fifth ‘road’ that can maintain both 319s and 377s. It has a centre and side pit as well as a platform that gives door-level access.

For more information visit www.thameslinkprogramme.co.uk or contact Roger Perkins, First Capital Connect Thameslink Programme Communications Manager at roger.perkins@firstgroup.com or 020 7713 2113; 07711 149 245


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