Thursday, 25 June 2009

378 Spotted

Just a small update, an 378 unit reached Watford Junction in daylight hours and the units ramp up again in driver training following the recent problems with the Electrostar fleets.

Hopefully in the autum this will be a much more common sight.

Thanks to my friend Steve at Watford for the shot.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

FCC release statement over the recent 377/5 issue

First Capital Connect (FCC) have released a statement concerning the withdrawal of its new 377/5 Electrostars. It seems that during routine inspect of 377502 in the early hours of Friday morning an issue was discovered with the units power transmission system. This axle end earth return brushes and the bearing which return current to the running rails were found to be faulty. After discovering this unit 377505 was inspect (this was the latest Electrostar to have been delivered) and finding this to have the same fault FCC took the precaution of withdrawing all six Electrostars from service.

FCC found out about this problem early enough for it not to have presented any safety issue but did leave it short of units which it found frustrating to say the least. Bombardier has been busy working on the problem and is now carrying out the remedial work to the currently delivered units. All future 377/5 to be delivered (the 8th unit is due next) will have a modified bearing to solve this problem from returning.

The 377/5 have been a sore point between FCC and Bombardier for months now and in the past this has split out in the public when the former MD of FCC publicly attacked Bombardier for its failure leaving FCC short of trains which lead to a massive inter TOC, DfT, NR and freight alliance to allow stock moves and trained staff to operate different services using different trains. Thankfully this is now winding down with 3 377/2 returned to Southern from FCC and the 4th due shortly. All 3 375 Southern borrowed from Southeastern have returned and the 350/1 from London Midland are returning shortly. FCC did announce that the Electrostar will return at the daily rate of 2 per day starting today. However so far 3 377/5 have returned to duty, the three units being 377504, 377507 and 377508.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Return of the Electrostars & NR PAYG Oyster

No sooner had I put up my last post about the current state of the Electrostars and a major issue crops up with the 377/5 for FCC. As of Thursday evening all six units were withdrawn from service due to safety concerns. After a week of no information, FCC, on its regular web chat with interested parties the actually reason for the withdrawal

We stood down the 6 377/5 units last Friday due to a problem with the earth return brushes which was found on unit 377 502 on routine maintenance. We then examined 377 505 and found a similar problem. We therefore stopped the fleet for examination and rectification. There are 14 sets of return brushes on class 377/5 and not more than 30% have been found defective on any unit. However we do not want these to deteriorate further and the situation to go unchecked so the manufacturer, Bombardier, have been working on a solution. This solution has started to be introduced today and we expect to have trains back in service at the rate of two per day.

This was added to a different question -

As a precaution, we have had to stand down from service all 6 of our new and recently-delivered Class 377/5 Electrostars after discovering an issue with the power transmission system during a routine inspection. This relates to earth return brushes at the axle ends.

We welcome the manufacturer's commitment to fix the fault and will return the trains to service as soon as possible - hopefully starting Thursday and completing Monday.

And on the case of the doors at St Pancras International -

We are aware of the problems, which are caused by technical comms issues with the beacon at St Pancras and the receiver on the trains. We are running more test trains to understand why the problem continues to occur, and Network Rails engineers have been supported by our engineers to understand what is causing the interference to the signal between track and train.

It is the removal of the interference (which we are working to establish what is causing it) which will solve the problems.

Frustratingly the interference did not manifest when FCC/NR/Southern were testing last year!

On the case of PAYG Oyster on national Rail, FCC stated that currently implementation is likely to be late 2009 or even early 2010. There is still on going discussion with TfL and the DfT on resolving it and introducing it on all FCC services.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Electrostar Update

FCC's 7th Electrostar, unit 377509, sits in the cleaning sheds at Selhurst Depot on the 2nd June 2009 shortly after delivery.

With the recent problems of Bombardier I thought it would prove useful to update the current status of the Electrostars for both FCC (377/5) and London Overground (378).


The original plan was for most of the 377/5 dual voltage units to be ready for the Thameslink Programme (TLP) Key Output Zero (KO0), as we know this didn't happen and the massive timetable change went ahead and only on the second day did the first passenger run of a 377/5 happen on the 24th March 2009. So far six units have been delivered with the 7th, 377509 currently at Selhurst on commissioning runs. 377510 was reported on the test track at Bombardier's Derby center last week.

The units have so far been in service as such

377501 – 24/03/09
377504 – 30/03/09
377502 – 29/04/09
377507 – 08/05/09
377508 – 18/05/09
377505 – 29/05/09

The current expected date for all 23 377/5 is now December 2009, some 7 months late.


The 378 fleet for London Overground has suffered worse. Originally it was hoped that the first would be in passenger service in December 2008. This was soon to be disappointed as the only 378 delivered in 2008 was 378001 which was only fitted out for test running. The first 378 ready for passenger service was 378005. This was followed by 378007 and the latest unit is 378015 which left Derby today (4th May). The latest updated estimate of a 378 in passenger service is 29th June. This is now some seven months late.

Units 378002/006/009/011/013/014/016 have all been seen completed externally at Derby.

Hopefully as the year progresses more Electrostars will delivered which will help relief overcrowding on FCC's Thameslink routes and provide the best proof of the upgrade to the London Overground is really happening and from next year provide lengthen trains and increased frequencies.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Southeastern to run HS services this month

Southeastern have officially announced they are to run a preview High Speed service. This follows on from the story I blogged about here.

The service will begin on the 29th June and uses Ashford International, Ebbsfleet and St Pancras stations. Journey times are 37 minutes from Ashford to St Pancras and just 17 minutes from Ebbsfleet. The official timetable can be accessed here.


Using the HS service from Ashford gets an extra £4.40 single (£26.60) and £8.10 return (£48.70). Weekly ticket cause an extra £18.90 at £113.40.

Ebbsfleet prices are £12.20 single, £24.30 return and £82.30 for a weekly ticket to St Pancras

Northbound Services

Ashford sees trains leave at 06:48, 07:13 calling at Ebbsfleet and a direct train to St Pancras at 07:48.

Ebbsfleet sees trains at 07:08, 07:33 then gets a clock face departures at 05 and 35 minutes past the hour until 11:05 when HS1 track inspection happens. The service restarts at 13:05 and continues to the final HS train north at 18:35.

Southbound Services

There are trains leaving St Pancras to Ebbsfleet again on a clock face timetable at 07 & 37 departures starting at 07:37. Services are suspended after the 11:07 until the 13:07. The last three trains leaving at 17:37, 18:37 and 19:26 all continue to Ashford International.

The Southeastern page on this story can be accessed here.