Gospel Oak-Bark­ing fleet plan re­mains un­clear

Rail (UK) - - Network | Regional News - An­drew Ro­den @AndyRo­den1 Con­tribut­ing Writer

THE plan for Trans­port for Lon­don’s in­tro­duc­tion of elec­tric trains on the Gospel Oak-Bark­ing line re­mains un­clear, with two of the Class 172 diesel mul­ti­ple units cur­rently used on the route al­ready taken off-lease from its op­er­a­tor Ar­riva Rail Lon­don for trans­fer to West Mid­lands Trains.

Lon­don Over­ground was due to put new Bom­bardier Class 710 elec­tric mul­ti­ple units into traf­fic on the route from March 2018, with a full roll­out by May. How­ever, prob­lems with the Train Con­trol Man­age­ment Sys­tem (TCMS) has so far pre­vented this.

TfL then said at the un­veil­ing of a Class 710 at Willes­den in June last year that they would en­ter traf­fic in au­tumn, but that dead­line was missed. The last date given was mid-De­cem­ber.

A four-car Class 378 elec­tric mul­ti­ple unit (re­duced in length from five coaches owing to plat­form length lim­i­ta­tions) has now been tested on the line as a stop-gap mea­sure to cover for the de­layed in­tro­duc­tion of the Class 710s planned for the route, seven of which are at Willes­den un­der­go­ing test­ing (710261263/265-267/269). A de­ci­sion on whether to in­tro­duce the Class 378s was due to be made in the week be­gin­ning Jan­uary 14 (after this is­sue of RAIL went to press).

In or­der to main­tain the re­main­ing six Class 172s on week­day ser­vices, some trains have been can­celled at week­ends. One Class 172 is due to be re­turned to its leas­ing com­pany in Jan­uary, two more in Fe­bru­ary, and the re­main­ing three in March.

There are 54 Class 710s on or­der. As well as the Gospel Oak-Bark­ing route, they will also op­er­ate on the West Anglia In­ner routes from Lon­don Liverpool Street. These were due to start in June last year, but this has also not hap­pened.

TfL had ini­tially ad­ver­tised that the fi­nal ‘710’ from an ini­tial or­der of 45 trains would be de­liv­ered from Derby by Novem­ber 2018. The deal was ex­tended by a fur­ther nine trains, but so far only the seven have been sent to Lon­don. Many more are ei­ther at Litchurch Lane or the As­fordby test track.

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