Thursday, 26 March 2009

395 early introduction?

Now Southeastern actually has services running into St Pancras and beyond (working jointly with First Capital Connect with some services even announced and displayed at St Pancras as South Eastern Trains), it seems thats Southeastern are planning on introducing some limited 395 services in the May 2009 timetable change. These are classed as taster to help with full introduction come the December's timetable changes. the service is planned to be a St Pancras - Stratford International - Ebbsfleet International shuttle service that will run inbetween existing Eurostar services running around every 3omins. Southeastern are also looking into doing peak hour trains from Ashford International into St Pancras as well.

Southeastern have recruited some of the staff needed for their high speed (HS) services and they expect to have all HS staff trained and ready by November this year. St Pancras and Starford staff will operate as one with a joint rota where as Ebbsfleet is being treated seperately.

The HS services are still under wraps as to timings but with nine months to go interest is begining to build as the new 395 140MPH EMU's start daylight testing and the final push in the media starts. I am looking forward to trying out these services as they will likely cut a cross London jounery for me and save me upto two hours when visiting my family in East Kent. However with pricing still to be announced, how popluar these services are actually going to be is still to remain.

377/5 delays and its impact

377501 at Brighton

New Electrostar unit 377501 sits at Brighton after running a Thameslink fast service from Bedford. The unit returned shortly after on a slow service back to London.

Now that the first part of the Thameslink programme has been in effect for nearly a week, I thought it was time to look back at how the week has been - and to take a look at Bombarbier and how its problems have spread into the wider rail network. As well all know the original plan was for 12 377/5 to be in service with First Capital Connect by now as part of the Thameslink Programme Key Output Zero (known as KO0). This was because of the shutting of Moorgate branch along with Blackfriars bays means peak Southeastern services from Ashford and Medway town along with the Sevenoaks service all needed to be run by dual voltage stock. The original delivery dates for the units when they were originally ordered by Southern were for 12 units in late 2008 and 11 more by May 2009.

The delays have been caused by supplier problem of equipment to Bombardier before it fits out the trains. Due to the credit crunch many of Bombardier's suppliers have faced issues getting credit to allow them to make parts to sell onwards. On of these companies, Time 24 ended up being acquired by Bombardier to ensure its supply lines were maintained. In Time 24's case, they supplied control and panel wiring inside the units and the cabs. other suppliers have been paid in advance to ensure that they produce the goods for the 377/5 before going bankrupt.

On Christmas Eve 2008, Bombardier, FCC and DfT sat down for a serious discussion as they told FCC that the 377/5 weren't going to be ready and the bad news was that only five 377/5 were going to be finished in time. This would mean that either FCC/DfT find additional stock elsewhere or the whole Thameslink Programme would have to be put back for perhaps years. Add to the fact that all Thameslink trains need to be capable of transferring from AC to DC or DC to AC power supplies at Farringdon and this left no spare units for FCC to obtain. Now as the 377/5 are a newer version of the 377/2 it was natural that borrowing a few from Southern would be likely, especially as limited numbers of the 377/2's where currently with FCC for driver testing ahead of the 377/5 deliveries. In the end eight 377/2 where lent to FCC (units 201, 202, 203, 204, 206, 207 208 & 213). This lead to five dual voltage 350/1 being lend from London Midland to Southern to work the Milton Keynes to East Croydon service as well as SouthEastern making some 375's available to Southern. Also two four car 317 came from FCC's Great Northern route to provide up to one extra train in the peak flow each day. This train is know as the "Crowd Buster".

Now from a total of five units expected to be ready by March 22 (KO0 day one) around end of 2008, the nearer it got the deadline the less units. In the end only two units, 501 and 504 have been seen outside Bombarbier's Derby production centre. The first 377, unit 501 was delivered in the early hours of January 31st with the second unit following behind a few weeks later. 377501 suffered some major issues when introduced with the computer shutting down and rebooting the train every 250 miles. This was overcome in the end by a new software update. 501 make its first daytime running on test on the 14th February, to much excitement. During test running both 501 and 504 ended up at Milton Keynes with 504 on the country (i.e. side away from London) end. Then a week before the deadline both units were taken back to Bombarbier for another new problem, a structural issue with the underfloor equipment rafts beams. Both units were returned to Selhurst before the deadline although either were used on the March 23rd first day. 377501 however, was used for driver training. Come Tuesday 24th March 2009, 377501 came into public service running with 377208 for large parts of the day. I myself managed to ride on the unit when it was running for its first journey on its own from City Thameslink to Brighton and back again. For anyone interested the images and videos are here.

The deal for the 377/2 is a time limited one and seeing as the 350/1's have had a few operating issues, I'm sure Southern will be looking forward to having its Electrostars back. Southern is providing the 377/2 as follows

8 units up to 25th April
7 units up to May 2nd
6 units up to May 16th
3 units up to June 13th

Also once FCC get four 377/5 delivered they must then return a 377/2 to Southern before getting a 377/5. So hopefully this will kick in by May allowing the return of the 377/2 or otherwise services may have to be cut as the 377/2 borrowed fleet reduces.

Now attention is is turning back towards Bombardier now the first unit is in service. So far 504 has not been tested on Thameslink route yet but was at Selhurst this week as confirmed by drivers there. As for units 502, 503 and 505-523, no information has been made public yet but rumours are around 3-5 377/5 completed bodies currently sat in Derby await parts yet delivered. Modern Railways April 09 issue suggests that issues with ill fitting panelling and trims are one of many causes. This is something I myself picked up on when riding on 377501. See here and here for what I found on-board the unit. This seemed to be the norm on the unit but I can't remember seeing either on Southeastern's 375's or Southern's 377's. It also seems that London Overground's fleet of brand new 378 Electrostar units are also delayed but these are even further behind with the first expected in passenger service in May 2009. Now Bombarbier have stated they expect the first passenger suitable 378 (unit 378005) to be delivered in May. This means July is now likely date for the first passenger service runs. TfL/LO do currently have the the seat less 378001 for testing and driver training but that been the only unit for six months now.

Bombarbier is also building 39 Class 172 Turbostars for London Overground (8 172/0 two car units), Chiltern Railways (4 172/1 two car units) and London Midland (12 172/2 two car and 15 172/3 three car, these will look like Electrostars due to end gangway for customer moments in joined up units). These units are due to start in passenger service during 2009 and one of production lines currently working on the Electrostars is due to switch to these once they are completed.

Now the long term issue. Bombarbier have been know to have delays in their trains before now but never on this scale although to be fair to them, the current money situation is also very different. Bombardier are currently bidding on three massive orders. The 97 trains for London Underground Piccadilly Line, 1,400 cars for Thameslink (worth around £2bn) and 1,000 for Crossrail. Two of these are for TfL who are currently very unhappy with Bombarbier's failures so far where as FCC may bulk at the idea of Bombarbier supply it that many trains when it failed to deliver 23. Now its up to Bombarbier to prove that it can pull itself back and deliver all 23 377/5 by summer as it has promised along with all the 378's including the one for the extended East London Line so testing of that line can start in winter 09/10.

Monday, 23 March 2009

377 News

377501 was on test today although the unit isn't expected to come into public service until later on this week.

Unit 377504 will be the first in passanger service from Tuesday 24th March 2009 running the following trains

0210 Bedford - St Pancras International
0358 St Pancras International - Bedford
0540 Bedford - Brighton
0816 Brighton - Bedford
1410 Bedford - Brighton
1709 Brighton - London Bridge
1842 London Bridge - Brighton
2007 Brighton - Bedford

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Goodbye Moorgate

This is the final passanger train leaving Moorgate for the last time. The 8 car unit was formed of 319364 and 319365, the two Thameslink programme branded 319 trains. Now work can begin on the track at Farringon, although the branch will not be pulled up till December 09 but it will shortly be degrade to empty stock movements only shortly.

The bays at Blackfriars are also now shut after the final 2112 service to Sevenoaks departed last night.

On good news 377501 is on test today before going back to FCC next week hopefully.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Southern 377's start working on Thameslink


The first unit in service 377207 formed 2T27 bedford (09:24) to Brighton (11:59) which due to a fault at Farringdon ran fast from East Croydon to Brighton.

Finally after a long period of testing and training the first Southern 377 unit ran a passanger service over the Thameslink metals prior to full services from monday. Although the inital jounery was marred by a 25min delay changing power at Farringdon, the introduction went smoothly with a service being provide. Inside the first class FCC head have been attached to the Southern seating but still feel very werid to be in, especially at stations like City Thameslink. They service also saw staff from FCC, Network Rail and Bombarbier aboard to ensure a pretty smooth running jounery. This wasn't always the case but as with any first time there are always problems.

The service ran

Bedford (0924) 0929, Bedford South Junction (0926) 0930, Filtwick (0937) 0938, Harlington (0937) 0943, Leagrave (0942) 0948, Luton (0948 ) 0951, Luton Airport Parkway (0950) no time recorded, Harpenden (0956) 0959, St Albans (1004) 1005, passing through not calling at - Hendon (1014) 1016, West Hampstead (1016) 1018, Carlton Road Junction (1018 ) 1019, Kentish Town (1019) 1021, St Pancras International (1024) 1030, Farringdon (1029) a. 1034 d. 1051, City Thameslink (1032) 1055, Blackfriars (1035) 1059, London Bridge (1042) 1107, Bricklayers Arms Junction (1045) 1111, Sydenham (1050) 1115, Norwood Junction (1052) 1117, Windmill bridge Junction (1053) 1119, East Croydon (1055) 1125, Purley (1059) 1128, Stoats nest Junction (1100) 1130, Earlswood (1105) 1134, Gatwick Airport (1111) no info, Three Bridges (1115) no info, Balcombe Tunnel junction (1118 ) no info, Haywards Heath (1127) no info, Keymer Junction (1131) no info, Preston Park (1143) no info, Brighton (1149) 1259.

This is the unit on its return jounery to Bedford although the side displays showed St Albans.


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Thameslink Programme - Key Output Zero


Pictures are of FCC unit 377501 (the first of 23 Electrostars to be deliveried) departing platform four at Blackfriars. The unit was returning to Selhurst before going onto Derby the following day.

As the Thameslink programme is now under way the first major step of the programme is about to begin and is going to have massive affect on the customers using the Thameslink route and also SouthEastern's customers on the services that currently terimate in Blackfriars.

The Thameslink Programme was broken down into three output phases. The first, Key Output Zero hits on the 23rd March. This will see the bays at Blackfriars horded off and the station rebuilt while serving trains. Moorgate will lose its Thameslink branch and Barbican will lose mainline trains and become a London Underground station only. Sevenoaks services will be extended northways with all but 5 services going as far as Kentish Town with some peak working going even futher. The current SouthEastern trains to (AM peak) and from (PM peak) Blackfriars will be extended as far as Bedford.

To achieve this First Capital Connect (FCC) are gaining additional stock to run all these extra services. Now this is where the problems arise. Due to massive problems Bombarbier have had with some suppliers being out of business. This has also affected the London Overground 378s. Because of the fact that now building work has started and the Thameslink Programme can not be put back any futher, a train cascade is now taking place to ensure that FCC can cope with the demands of a Key Output Zero (KO0) timetable. FCC will now recieve eight 377/2 Electrostar (which are actually the same as the 377/5 FCC are waiting to be deliveried). This would mean that Southern are multiple units short. To this end they are getting some 375 Electrostars from SouthEastern, Dual Voltage 350/1s from London Midland and using some 442 EMUs to cover their services.

The bad news is this is now enough units to cover everything so the following services are going to be DC only Networkers services instead of going futher north. All will terimate at City Thameslink.

AM Peak
0740 Sevenoaks to (Kentish Town) City Thameslink
*8 car 319 now 6 car Networker (465 + 466)
0752 Sevenoaks to (Luton) City Thameslink
*8 car 319 now 8 car Networker (465 x2)

PM Peak
1650 (Luton) City Thameslink to Sevenoaks
* 8 car 319 now 8 car Networker (465 x2)
1808 (Kentish Town) City Thameslink to Sevenoaks
* 8 car 319 now 8 car Networker (465 + 466 x2)
1906 Sevenoaks to (Kentish Town) City Thameslink
* 8 car 319 now 8 car Networker (465 x2)

Ther is also an extra train that will start at Farringdon. This is because the unit will be formed of two 4 car 317 units that are AC only so are unable to work south of Farringdon. The units will run the following service

1816 Farringdon to Bedford
St Pancras International 1820, St Albans 1842, Harpenden 1848, Luton Airport Parkway 1854, Luton 1857, Harlington 1905 and arrive at Bedford 1920

The joint SouthEastern/FCC services will including the following as well as the Sevenoaks services. These will use 4 or 8 car 319 trains to achieve this

AM Peak
2 trains from Orpington via Catford
2 trains from Orpington via Herne Hill
2 trains from Bromley South via Catford
1 train from Beckenham Junction via Herne Hill
1 train from Kent House via Herne Hill

PM Peak
1 train to Orpington via Catford
2 trains to Beckenham Junction via Herne Hill

Long distance services will be as follows

AM Peak
0609 Bearstead to Bedford via Maidstone East
0623 Ashford International to Bedford via Maidstone East
0729 Rochester to bedford

PM Peak
1622 Bedford to Gillingham via Herne Hill
1646 Bedford to Bedford via Maidstone East
1700 Bedford to Gillingham via Herne Hill

So the Fleet for FCC Thameslink come KO0 will be as follows

317 x2 (borrowed from FCC Great Northern route)
319 x86 (the whole 319 fleet)
377/2 x8 (Borrowed from Southern)
377/5 x2 (with a futher 21 to be deliveried during 2009)

This leaves a total of 10 peak trains that are four car units which are as follows

AM Peak
0629 Luton to Sevenoaks
0816 Brighton to Bedford

PM Peak
1507 Brighton to Bedford
1534 Sevenoaks to Bedford
1537 Brighton to Bedford
1544 Luton to Sutton
1613 St Albans to Wimbledon
1711 London Bridge to Brighton
1740 Sutton to St Albans
1757 Wimbledon to Luton
1842 London Bridge to Brighton

Once all 23 377/5 Electrostars are deliveried all AM peak services will be of 8 car units and only six 4 car services in the PM peak. Although there is more than planned 4 car services the capacity remains silmar to the planned KO0 timetable.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Moorgate Closure

The end is coming for the short branch from Farringdon to Moorgate for First Capital Connect's Thameslink route. To make way for the new 12 car platforms at Farringdon the two station link will be cut off from the end of peak traffic on the 2oth March 2009.

Current passanger trains are as follows

Morning arrivals

0659 from Bedford
0723 from Luton
0735 from Luton
0743 from Bedford
0751 from Bedford
0755 from Luton
0819 from Luton
0823 from St Albans
0839 from Bedford
0847 from Bedford
0855 from Luton
0911 from Luton
0941 from St Albans

Evening Departures

1635 to Bedford
1710 to Bedford
1720 to St Albans
1724 to Bedford
1744 to Bedford
1804 to Luton
1816 to Bedford
1828 to Bedford
1840 to Bedford
1906 to Bedford

Come the morning of the 23rd March anyone wanting to get to Barbican and Moorgate will have to change at Frringdon for the Underground. As part of a deal any season ticket for two years after the closure is vaild to Moorgate on the Underground at "no extra cost". After this time I assume that you will need a Zone 1 travelcard to get to Moorgate from stations on the Thameslink route.