Commuters get first look at new Great Northern trains

The interior of the new Class 700 trains running for the first time on the Great Northern line. Pict

The interior of the new Class 700 trains running for the first time on the Great Northern line. Picture: Govia Thameslink - Credit: Archant

Commuters from Sandy, Biggleswade, Arlesey, Hitchin and Stevenage today have the first chance to ride on two new trains offering live updates about the Tube and where to find space on board.

One of the new Class 700 trains. Picture: Govia Thameslink

One of the new Class 700 trains. Picture: Govia Thameslink - Credit: Archant

The 12-carriage Siemens Class 700 trains are running on two peak-hour services to and from London King’s Cross. They left Peterborough at 6.56am and 7.33am, and are set to return from King’s Cross at 5.42pm and 6.12pm.

The new trains will run to King’s Cross until May, when they and others will switch to services from Peterborough and Cambridge through new tunnels to St Pancras – part of the Thameslink programme in which the government has invested £7 billion.

Operator Govia Thameslink says this link-up will mean quicker and more direct journeys to central London and Gatwick Airport, as well as thousands more seats for commuters through longer trains and additional services.

Govia engineering director Gerry McFadden said: “These first new Thameslink trains on the Great Northern route are a shape of things to come and feature the latest in technology.

“Their introduction is part of a broader fleet modernisation programme that has seen most of our older trains withdrawn and new trains introduced to Cambridge, Peterborough and King’s Lynn. This will continue into next year with new trains on the Moorgate line.

“At Govia we’re modernising the railway, and starting in May we’ll be giving passengers longer trains and more services to provide vital added seats on a route that has seen a 70-per-cent increase in passenger numbers in just 14 years.

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“This increase in capacity – coupled with trains to new central London stations, Crossrail and Gatwick Airport – will transform the lives of thousands.”

The new trains’ introduction is part of the government-sponsored Thameslink programme, which rail minister Paul Maynard has called the biggest rail network investments since Victorian times.

Govia has committed to replacing 75 per cent of its Great Northern fleet.

When the new cross-London route opens next year, rail users from the Great Northern line will gain direct services to central London stations like Farringdon, City Thameslink and Blackfriars.

Govia says its new Great Northern timetable, set to come into effect from May, will offer 50 per cent more carriages and more than 35 per cent more seats to passengers from Sandy and Arlesey during the morning peak into the capital.

Biggleswade is set to have three-quarters more carriages and more than 60 per cent more seats during the morning peak, while Hitchin and Stevenage are both due to get more than 12,000 extra seats each morning.

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland said: “It is very exciting the new trains are starting to arrive and I look forward to using them, as I am a commuter myself.

“Stevenage has been leading the economic recovery and this is the start of a massive roll-out that will see a whole new fleet of trains across all our services come online.”