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A Class 345 for Elizabeth

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Bombardier has unveiled its first completed Class 345 Aventra train for Crossrail. With two now built, and three more underway, preparations are in full swing ahead of the train’s debut in May 2017.

On 29 July, the first new train carried out a series of short test runs at Derby’s Litchurch Lane factory – a milestone moment caught by local TV crews and trade press regulars.


Bombardier was awarded a £1 billion contract in 2014 to supply 66 nine-car trains for London’s new railway. The first of these will go into passenger service in TfL Rail colours between Liverpool Street station and Shenfield in May 2017.


These first 15 trains will consist of seven cars initially to account for the short platforms at Liverpool Street. The first full nine-car trains will come into operation in May 2018 on the western section of the route between Paddington and Heathrow. This will be followed in December 2018 with the opening of the tunnels. The final two stages of the project will involve feeding the surface-level services into the tunnels, starting with the Shenfield services in May 2019 and then the western services in December 2019.

‘I’ve been working on Crossrail, working on the train, for many, many years, actually before we even let the contract,’ said Howard Smith, who became Crossrail’s operations director in 2013.

‘The first thing that I think people underground will realise, or strike them, is how long it is because your mental picture of an Underground train in London is about 100 metres long; these, by the time they go into the tunnels, will be twice that.’

In order to test the 200-metre Class 345 units, Bombardier has invested in a new £12.5 million test facility at its Derby site. During last month’s visit, the facility housed the second completed train, giving guests the opportunity to test out the Class 345’s distinctive interior. The nine-car Class 345 can carry up to 1,500 passengers and to match the mixed suburban/metro service provided by the Elizabeth line, the trains will include a combination of longitudinal and bay seating.

The Class 345s will also offer free Wi-Fi and there will be a stable 4G signal from the platform onto the train to meet the evolving needs of passengers.


Following the unveiling, Bombardier released a time-lapse video documenting the construction of a Class 345 carriage. Up to seven carriages a week are currently rolling off the production line in Derby.

The Aventra is Bombardier’s new regional/suburban EMU product – a successor to the Electrostar. Howard Smith said the new trains didn’t just represent a new generation of products for Bombardier.

‘Fundamentally what they bring is capacity, and joining things up – that’s what the Elizabeth line is actually about, but the experience on the train itself right through to things like the customer information systems and the like will take us into a new era.’

With its factory testing complete, the first train will make its way to Old Dalby in Leicestershire this month.

Mike Brown MVO, London’s Transport Commissioner, said the trains were ‘a great showcase of British design and manufacture’.

He added, ‘The trains are fully accessible, will have air cooling, and once the whole line opens, they will help our passengers move more easily into and across the city every day.’

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