Your May InTouch newsletter from Govia Thameslink

Welcome to your May edition of our In-Touch newsletter, bringing you some of the latest news and updates from across the Govia Thameslink network.
Updates included in this edition are:

  • First Class 387 makes progress with ETCS testing
  • Celebrating 50 years since the rebuild of St Albans City Station
  • Farewell tour for the Class 313 raises money for charity
  • Three new Mobile Assistance Teams are ready to help
  • New trains join the Great Northern fleet

E-scooters banned from our services from 1 June

First Class 387 makes progress with ETCS testing

Govia Thameslink Railway's first Class 387/1 Great Northern Electrostar train has now completed static testing of its retrofitted European Train Control Signalling (ETCS) in-cab signalling equipment, as part of the East Coast Digital Programme.
The Class 387 is the country's first major commuter fleet to have the technology retrofitted, and it lays the foundations for the digital upgrade to be applied to the rest of the UK's vast Electrostar fleet, for future expansion of ETCS across other routes.
The next step is dynamic testing of the odometry system, which detects the train's location, which has now begun at Network Rail's Rail Innovation & Development Centre testing facility. This is expected to take approximately three weeks.
Following further testing, the train is expected to return to Hornsey depot in November 2023, after which the remaining 28 387/1 trains will be retrofitted with ETCS in-house at our Hornsey depot.

Celebrating 50 years since the rebuild of St Albans City Station

An event was held at St Albans Station on Monday 15 May to mark the 50 years since the city's main train station was rebuilt.
To honour the impressive milestone, a commemorative plaque and mural were unveiled at the Thameslink station which depicts the 'City of St Albans' Coronation Class steam locomotive, which was built in Crewe in 1946.
As part of the celebrations, a new exhibition has also been unveiled by the St Albans South Signal Box Museum, which showcases historic photos of the station before its dramatic rebuild in 1973.
The new public exhibition will be on display on Platform 4 throughout the summer for those who want to visit it.
St Albans City station, which is the busiest station on the Thameslink network north of London, has undergone many improvements over recent years, including the installation of a new footbridge which opened in January 2023.
In 2020, the station also benefitted from a £5.7 million upgrade that saw it extended over two storeys, which made way for a new waiting area with a coffee shop, new toilets and additional ticket gates at the Ridgmont Road entrance.
The event, by Govia Thameslink Railway and the Beds and Herts Community Rail Partnership, was attended by some special guests, including the Mayor of the City, Councillor Geoff Harrison, local MP Daisy Cooper and Siggy Cragwell, who works at the nearby Elstree & Borehamwood Station and has worked on the British railways for over 60 years.

Farewell tour for the Class 313 raises money for charity

Hundreds of rail enthusiasts joined Southern on Saturday 29 April for a special charity tour in one of the now retired coastal Class 313 trains.
The tour marked the end of the line for the Class 313s, which have been operating on British railways for fifty years.
In their five years of service, the Class 313 trains helped people to get around and fostered many happy memories among its passengers, and the tour was a great opportunity for people to take one last trip on the train.
Naturally, 313 tickets were sold for the farewell tour, which also attracted the viral sensation trainspotting celebrity Francis Bourgeois, known for his popular social media videos.
The Brunch Line Society was also involved in organising the rail tour, which ran from Brighton via Bognor, Littlehampton, Three Bridges, Ore and Newhaven over the course of the day.
Money was also raised for charity through the tickets sold, a raffle, and an onboard auction. In total, the tour raised around £25,000 for the Sussex children's hospice Chestnut Tree House and the Railway Children.
Now they have retired, younger Electrostar trains are running in their place, providing customers with an improved on-board experience with air-conditioning and toilets.

Three new Mobile Assistance Teams are ready to help

Three new mobile assistance teams have started work in a trial to further support disabled passengers and other customers at eight stations on the Great Northern network.
It means support should be available at the stations within 20 minutes every day of the week - weekends included - to board every train that is running.
Staff already work on site at many of the stations, but only when their ticket offices are open and these new teams, based out of larger stations nearby will offer assistance to passengers throughout the whole day.
Customers request assistance when they arrive at the station, either by contacting the control centre from the station help point, using the 'emergency & assisted travel' button, or by calling freephone 0808 168 1238 or texting 07970 511077.
If passengers prefer, they can book the mobile assistance team further in advance by contacting the assisted travel team either online or by calling 0800 138 1016.
The three new teams are based at Downham Market, Hertford North and Potters Bar stations and cover:

  • Watlington (step-free to all platforms)
  • Littleport (step-free to all platforms)
  • Welwyn North (step-free to all platforms)
  • Bayford (step-free to platform 1 only)
  • Watton-at-Stone (step-free to platform 1 only)
  • Hadley Wood (step-free to platform 4)
  • Welham Green (step-free to platform 2 only)
  • Cuffley (step-free to platform 1 only)

The service is intended for anyone who needs assistance getting around the station and boarding a train - whether it be an older person with luggage, someone who is visually impaired or, where platforms are step-free, a ramp to board the train for a wheelchair or mobility scooter user.

New trains join the Great Northern fleet

Three trains formerly used by Great Western Railway have just joined Great Northern fleet and have entered passenger service.
The GWR trains are cousins to our existing Electrostar Class 387 trains used by Great Northern, and were in fact built alongside them seven years ago.
So they will feel right at home on the network and will help to build extra resilience into our Great Northern fleet.
Before they entered into passenger service, they were handed over by Porterbrook, their owners, to our engineers at Hornsey Depot who then sprang into action to get them tested and fit for GTR service.
The trains have received an update to their software systems to match our own, and the engineering team carried out an extensive testing programme on the trains of over 240 hours each to bring their maintenance records up to standard.
All the internal maps and safety/advisory notices have been swapped out to match Great Northern's requirements, and their external livery has been refreshed.
Other modifications to the new units include changing the pantograph heads, which connect to the overhead wires to provide power to the trains, to fit in with our track infrastructure on the Great Northern network, allowing the units to reach the same speeds as those already on the network.
These new trains on the Great Northern network will help to ensure that passengers have a reliable service.

E-scooters banned from our services from 1 June

Finally, we are reminding customers that as of 1 June, e-scooters, e-unicycles, e-skateboards and hoverboards will be banned from the Govia Thameslink network.
A lot of devices people bring on trains every day are powered by Lithium-Ion batteries, ranging from mobile phones and laptops to mobility scooters. Most are either well-regulated or small enough to pose only a very low risk, such as headphones.
However, many e-scooters, e-unicycles, e-skateboards and hoverboards are available to buy without the proper approval that they are electrically safe and they pose a much higher safety risk. They can severely overheat, cause fires and release toxic gases.
Under advice from the Rail Delivery Group, the Rail Safety Standards Board and the London Fire Brigade, our safety team carried out a review of the risks and recommended a network-wide ban of these items.
Therefore, from 1 June 2023, e-scooters, e-unicycles, e-skateboards and hoverboards will be banned from the Govia Thameslink network, this includes bringing them onto station sites as well as on our trains.
Passengers who arrive at one of our stations with an e-scooter, e-unicycle, e-skateboard or hoverboard will be asked to return without the device and directed to an alternative train. These devices may not be stored at GTR stations and will not be accepted as lost property.
Southeastern and South Western Railway will also be banning e-scooters from the same day, and they are already prohibited on TfL, East Midlands and LNER services.
However, e-bikes and mobility scooters are still allowed on-board our trains, as they meet a minimum legal standard, but cannot be charged on trains or at stations.


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