Three fully-assembled cars for the new Class 700 train were among 145 rail vehicles exhibited at last week’s InnoTrans show in the German capital

 

 

Siemens exhibited the new Thameslink Class 700 train for the first time at the InnoTrans show in Berlin last week, with a launch event led by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Three fully-assembled Class 700 cars were among 145 rail vehicles on display at the show, which was attended by 138,872 trade visitors from more than 100 countries.

The most striking aspects of the Class 700 train design are features to enable large numbers of passengers to board and leave crowded services rapidly.

Low and precise station dwell times at the Thameslink core stations will be a key requirement for reliable operation when new franchise holder Govia starts its 24 trains per hour service in December 2018. The Department for Transport had set Siemens a target to enable heavily loaded trains to stop at stations for just 27 seconds if necessary.

Features that Siemens technical development manager Ian MacLeod said would contribute to minimising dwell times include large, decluttered spaces around the doorways and ‘pocket doors’ to provide room for two people with luggage to board simultaneously.

Other aspects of the train will enable passengers to spread evenly throughout the carriages so that low dwell times can be achieved consistently.

UK-first onboard information displays will code each carriage on each service as red, amber or green so that passengers know where there is space available to sit and stand and how much. Carriage weighing equipment will update the screens after trains call at each station.

Design innovations to enable passengers to move easily between carriages to less crowded areas of the train include vestibules which are wider than on any other Siemens model. MacLeod said this required a number of technical challenges, including heat retention, to be addressed.

Crowding information will also be transmitted from the train to station displays so customers waiting for a service know where to stand on platforms to board a carriage with spare seats or standing room. An external indicator on the train will flash 10 seconds before the end of the scheduled dwell time so station staff can encourage passengers to board more rapidly if required.

Onboard customer service improvements include the ability to show real time information on all Tube and mainline rail services on the information screens.

The design of the train has been broadly welcomed by Thameslink operator Govia, particularly the design of doorways to enable rapid boarding. However, the company has criticised the omission of small features which are important to customers such as seat back tables. (PT092).

A number of transport professionals at InnoTrans considered that the train was an effective high density commuter vehicle, but less well suited to the interurban and airport markets which it will also serve.

The first units will run on the Thameslink Bedford to Brighton service through central London in spring 2016 and on Peterborough and Cambridge Great Northern services a year later. By the end of 2018, when the Thameslink Programme is complete, the two services will join at St Pancras International, and run through central London every two to three minutes at the busiest times.

 

This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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