New trains promise 'vast improvement' for First Capital Connect

Wandsworth Guardian: FCC operations manager Jackie Townsend and rail manager Steve Byford FCC operations manager Jackie Townsend and rail manager Steve Byford

Commuters and travellers will benefit from more frequent, newer and bigger trains on one of south London's most popular services.

First Capital Connect (FCC), which connects north and south London via the centre of the capital and a loop that takes in Sutton, Mitcham, Tooting and Wimbledon, has signed a contract with German firm Siemens.

It will mean FCC can deliver a new fleet of trains to run up to 24 trains per hour on the busiest parts of the route in a move described as "a vast improvement for the customer".

The new trains will replace the current stock, much of which was built in the 80s, and will be bigger and more modern with better heating and air conditioning.

Wandsworth Guardian: first-capital-connect.gif

FCC operations director Jackie Townsend said: "We will have many more trains than we have now.

"They will be much newer, they will have air con, they will have about the same seating but more space to stand. They will be the most hi-tech trains.

"The most we operate at the moment is 16 trains per hour,. That will go up to 24. It will make an absolutely huge difference, a vast improvement for the customer.

"It's a massive programme but these trains will be more modern and more reliable."

The new trains are being built in Germany at the moment. Once they have been built, FCC a selection of FCC drivers will go to Germany to learn how to drive them before all the rest of the drivers are trained in this country.

Ms Townsend said the new fleet should be on the rails and available for the public by 2018.

Ms Townsend also said FCC is working with Network Rail to improve the rail infrastructure around its routes and increase reliability.

Wandsworth Guardian:

The view from the driver's seat

Reporter Mike Pyle got to travel in the cab with an experienced driver and a driver in training between Sutton and London St Pancras to see the line from a different perspective.

As I stepped into the cab it was immediately obvious that the job of a train driver is munch more complex than I previously imagined.

"I thought most of what a train does is automated but the small room is covered in buttons and levers that do everything from speeding  the train up and slowing it down to switching the electricity supply from overhead wires to electrified rails at the right time.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Driver in training Richard Mooney at the controls 

Richard Mooney, who has been training to be a driver since September 2012, told me he was in the police for two years prior to becoming a train driver but said the training he is doing at the moment is the hardest he has done.

He said: "It's the concentration, it's constant from the moment you start to the moment you stop and then there's the pressure that 100s of people behind you are relying on you to do your job."

"The 50 minute journey takes the train through a number of stations and at each Mr Mooney arrives and departs bang on time, using his own watch and a system of cameras and mirrors to make sure everyone gets on board before he closes the doors.

"The experience left me with a new-found appreciation of the work of the train driver and will make me a little more understanding the next time I'm delayed in the morning."

Comments (5)

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1:18pm Wed 27 Nov 13

Googol says...

Five years is a long time to wait. The FCC trains must already have been due for upgrade, as there are no displays or announcements to tell you what station you are approaching, and the seats are too close together to be able to get in and out properly. So why has it taken until now to get replacements sorted out?
Five years is a long time to wait. The FCC trains must already have been due for upgrade, as there are no displays or announcements to tell you what station you are approaching, and the seats are too close together to be able to get in and out properly. So why has it taken until now to get replacements sorted out? Googol

5:00pm Wed 27 Nov 13

CPN says...

I just hope there is still a lot of room for luggage in the new trains as they will still go to St Pancras and Kings Cross
I just hope there is still a lot of room for luggage in the new trains as they will still go to St Pancras and Kings Cross CPN

3:13pm Thu 28 Nov 13

Marie from Sutton says...

Coudl we not have BRITISH built trains?
Coudl we not have BRITISH built trains? Marie from Sutton

11:45am Fri 29 Nov 13

Peter Fosdike says...

2018! have they worked out the population increase by then??? They will still be 20% behind growth. What will the fares be like in 2018? Have Network Rail upgraded the power supply for more trains with A/C? (they messed up last time)

Isn't this 18 years LATE! A train that is 18 years LATE. The Thamelink project 2000 promised this under a plan devised in 1988. Back in those days Thameslink ran through Wallington ! HURRAH!
2018! have they worked out the population increase by then??? They will still be 20% behind growth. What will the fares be like in 2018? Have Network Rail upgraded the power supply for more trains with A/C? (they messed up last time) Isn't this 18 years LATE! A train that is 18 years LATE. The Thamelink project 2000 promised this under a plan devised in 1988. Back in those days Thameslink ran through Wallington ! HURRAH! Peter Fosdike

6:33am Sat 30 Nov 13

RyanTaylor says...

The article does not tell the full truth - a lot of those extra trains are just going to destinations already served by other operators to replace those services. The central section will get more trains but the branches north and south of the Thames will remain at similar frequencies. There are no plans to increase the frequency or length of train on the Wimbledon - Sutton loop. I wouldn't say that the quality of train is the biggest problem, it is the frequency, speed and reliability.
The article does not tell the full truth - a lot of those extra trains are just going to destinations already served by other operators to replace those services. The central section will get more trains but the branches north and south of the Thames will remain at similar frequencies. There are no plans to increase the frequency or length of train on the Wimbledon - Sutton loop. I wouldn't say that the quality of train is the biggest problem, it is the frequency, speed and reliability. RyanTaylor

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