New trains today!

23 May

By Fsheng666 - Own work

Picture by Fsheng666

After much speculation during the week and one false start, yesterday afternoon Transport for London (TfL) confirmed that the first two Class 710 trains would enter passenger service today (23 May 2019) on the Barking – Gospel Oak route.

This follows a successful test of a software drop (version 33!) at Network Rail’s Asfordby test centre two weeks ago and further successful testing of a tweaked version (version 33.1?) on units at Bombardier’s Willesden depot last week. 

The three ‘borrowed’ 4-car Class 378 trains will continue to operate the temporary half hourly timetable with the new units operating in some of the paths cancelled in mid March when the last of the two-car diesel trains disappeared to the West Midlands.

Once the Class 710s at Willesden have all received the updated software, and demonstrated sufficient reliability, additional trains will be put into public service, finally restoring the proper 4-trains-an-hour service. The three ‘borrowed’ Class 378s will then return to 5-car formation on the Euston – Watford Junction service, allowing that to move to a 15-minute service from its current irregular three trains per hour ‘Interim timetable’.

So far around a third of the drivers have been trained on the new Class 710s, those trained before the latest software drop will have to have a further day training before being ‘passed out’ to drive the units.

Secretary of the Barking – Gospel Oak Rail User Group (BGORUG), Glenn Wallis, said,

“Passengers have waited 14 months for this belated entry into public service of the Class 710 and endured a deteriorating service in the meantime. It is to be hoped that all the software issues have been finally resolved and that the units prove reliable in service so that the full 15-minute interval timetable can be restored as soon as possible.”

“BGORUG looks forward to an early meeting with TfL to discuss the month’s free travel to be provided by Bombardier as compensation to regular travellers for the inconvenience they have suffered.”

The free month is expected to be in September.

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