New dawn as older GTR trains get £55m revamp


Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and leasing company Porterbrook have announced a five-year, £55m programme to modernise 270 trains in the operator’s fleet.

Enhancements to Southern, Gatwick Express and Great Northern ‘Electrostar’ trains under Project Aurora range from real-time passenger information screens and USB/power points to on-board operation systems.

A technician fits an automatic passenger counting monitor

The trains include 214 ‘Class 377s’ that provide suburban and commuter services on the Southern network and over 56 ‘Class 387s’ working on Great Northern or Gatwick Express routes.

GTR’s engineering director, Steve Lammin, said: ‘Taking on board our passengers’ feedback, this multi-faceted upgrade by our own team at Selhurst Depot will provide a better on-board experience and more reliability.

‘I’m really pleased that GTR is working with Porterbrook and Bombardier to deliver this improvement programme that will continue to build back a better railway for our customers.'

Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook, which owns the trains, said: ‘We are committed to helping GTR meet the needs of its travelling customers. This is why Porterbrook are investing £55m in the Electrostar fleet to significantly enhance passenger facilities and improve reliability using digital analytics.'

GTR said that while parts of the fleet are just five years old, most have been in service for between 15 and 20 years. The upgrade aims to bring all 270 trains up to the same level of passenger facilities and the latest on-board diagnostic systems.

GTR’s engineers will install features called for by passengers in recent research led by Transport Focus and funded by Porterbrook. These include USB/power sockets and on-board real-time information through media screens. The trains will also be fitted with energy saving LED lighting.

To improve reliability, the trains will be fitted with an upgraded on-train data recorder that will help predict and diagnose faults and streamline maintenance, while forward-facing CCTV cameras will help GTR and Network Rail investigate incidents that have delayed the service.

Passenger-counting technology will also be fitted, to allow GTR to better analyse how busy trains are and support social distancing.

In March GTR suspended Gatwick Express services and they remain suspended. 

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