Siemens has unveiled the design of the Class 700 electric train that promises to revolutionise rail-traffic on London’s Thameslink route, promising greater reliability and energy efficiency.
Only a full-scale mock-up at this stage, the train has been put on display at London’s Excel Centre, during an event attended by several UK government and Siemens officials.
"We are transforming our railways through the biggest programme of rail investment ever,” rail minister Stephen Hammond said during the event.
"These exciting new trains, combined with the wider Thameslink programme, are a real boost to UK Plc, creating thousands of jobs in construction and across the supply chain, which is driving forward our economy.”
Siemens is building the 1,140 Thameslink carriages in Germany. However, the company said, the project will help create up to 2,000 jobs in the UK supply chain mostly in maintenance and component manufacturing. In addition, 3,000 workers are expected to be employed as part of wider Thameslink infrastructure works.
The Thameslink programme, worth about £6.5bn, promises improvements in capacity and reliability. The new electric trains should be running on of the Europe’s busiest rail lines by 2016.
"Over £80m has been invested by Siemens in the design and development of the Class 700,” said Steve Scrimshaw, managing director of Siemens Rail Systems UK. “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."
First Capital Connect, operating the current Thameslink franchise, has worked closely with the government to develop the new trains. The company’s managing director David Statham said: "The Thameslink Programme will deliver more than double the number of carriages across the heart of London. At London Bridge alone the programme will deliver 60 per cent more carriages in the morning rush hour.”
However, union representatives seem to be less impressed. "Nothing that has been unveiled or launched today can detract from the fact that the Thameslink fleet replacement programme has been a multi-million pound fiasco from start to finish which not only threatened 10,000 jobs and train building in the country that gave the railways to the world but which has also seriously delayed the release of key fleet across the country,” commented Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union