The Anonymous Widower

Porterbrook Awards £11m Contract To Modify New Digital Heathrow Express Fleet

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Porterbrook has unveiled a £11m contract with Bombardier to modify 12 Class 387 trains in preparation for their use on the Heathrow Express rail link.

The 12 specially converted ‘Electrostar’ trains currently operate on London commuter services for GWR but will now form a dedicated Heathrow Express fleet of electric multiple-units.

As other Class 387 trains are used on Gatwick Express, I’m sure that the trains will end up as some of the best airport expresses in the world.

But I feel that this is the most significant paragraph in the article.

The deal will also see the company fit digital signalling equipment, called ETCS, to the Class 387s – the first-time digital signalling will have been fitted on an existing fleet of electric passenger trains and will result in ‘type approval’ from the ORR which will enable ETCS to be fitted on all Electrostar fleets.

Fitting ETCS to the Heathrow Express trains will have several benefits.

More Trains Between Paddington And Reading

With the refurbishment of the Class 387 trains for the Heathrow Express, there will only be three types of trains between Paddington and Reading stations.

  • Class 387 trains
  • Class 800/801/802 trains
  • Class 345 trains

Within a few years, all of these trains will be able to use ETCS and the benefits will be more trains between Paddington and Reading stations.

The trains would probably be a few minutes faster too!

All Electrostars Will Be Able To Be Updated With Digital Signalling

If the digital signalling works for the Class 387 trains, it would appear that it could be fitted to all the other Electrostars.

This could be very significant, as several busy lines have a high proportion of Electrostars.

These are my thoughts on some lines.

Brighton Main Line

The trains working the Brighton Main Line include.

  • Gatwick Express’s Class 387 trains.
  • Thameslink’s Class 700 trains, which are already using ETCS.
  • Southern’s Electrostars.

Could we see digital signalling increase the capacity of this line.

East London Line

The East London Line is an all-Electrostar line and in the next few years, with the coming of Crossrail, it will probably need more services.

I suspect it will be using digital signalling and ETCS in a few years time.

North And West London Lines

If the East London Line were to be successfully signalled to bring capacity benefits, I could see the North London and West London Lines following suit.

The Class 710 trains, that will be boosting passenger capacity are Aventras and will be compatible with digital signalling. The freight locomotives are also being upgraded to digital signalling.

c2c

In a few years time, c2c will be using only Electrostars and Aventras! So why not use digital signalling?

As more new trains arrive with digital signalling, more lines will be converted to digital signalling and ETCS.

Conclusion

The updating of twelve Class 387 trains for Heathrow Express is a big step in the creation of a digital railway.

January 22, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

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