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Rolling Stock

Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 3 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason he has required Southern to transfer rolling stock to First Capital Connect from April 2009; and what assessment he has made of the consequences of this requirement for passengers on Southern’s services. (259405)

[holding answer 27 February 2009]: The Thameslink programme requires the introduction of a new timetable on the 22 March. This timetable is necessary to enable major works to start at London Blackfriars.

The timetable requires additional dual voltage rolling stock, which are currently being delivered from Bombardier.

Bombardier are late in the delivery of these new trains, and as a short-term measure, Southern are supplying up to eight dual voltage trains to First Capital Connect.

Southern will operate additional single voltage trains that can be provided from other operators maintaining the levels of service provided.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to reallocate coaches from the Gatwick Express service to other services operated by Southern; and if he will take account of current passenger loading in the reallocation. (259406)

[holding answer 27 February 2009]: There are currently no plans to reduce the number of coaches forming each Gatwick Express train. The class 460 trains will remain eight-car stock and it is envisaged that the refurbished class 442 trains will remain in 10-car formation.

Until the December 2008 timetable change, the Gatwick Express fleet was formed of 64 class 460 vehicles dedicated to use on Gatwick Express services.

Since December 2008, in addition to the class 460 services, six peak Gatwick Express services have been extended to and from Brighton. These services have been enabled through the leasing and refurbishment of 85 class 442 vehicles. Due to delays in the refurbishment programme, some of the extended Gatwick Express services have been formed of Southern class 377 trains. However, from 16 March it is envisaged that class 377 stock will no longer be used on the extended Gatwick Express service.

It is planned that, if sufficient class 442 vehicles are delivered from the refurbishment programme, they will also be deployed on the Eastbourne to London Bridge route from the end of March.

Bids for the replacement South Central franchise have now been received and are in the process of being evaluated. Contained within the bid submissions are the bidders’ plans to accommodate existing passenger loads and to provide for future demand, including details of the rolling stock that they propose to lease. The award of the franchise, and the commitments made by the incoming franchisee, are scheduled for announcement in early June.