HomeElectrificationMoorgate Class 717s save energy and reduce emissions
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Great Northern’s new Class 717 trains on the Hertfordshire to Moorgate service have already generated enough electricity through their brakes to power the equivalent of all the households of Welwyn and Hatfield Borough for a month, potentially saving more than 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Great Northern managing director Tom Moran and Catherine West MP chose Clean Air Day (Thursday 8 October) to celebrate the trains’ first year of full service on the Moorgate route and their significant environmental contribution.

Catherine West MP and Great Northern MD Tom Moran celebrate Clean Air Day.

The 25 new Class 717 trains have transformed travel for Great Northern’s passengers travelling between London Moorgate and Stevenage, Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City. They replaced one of Britain’s oldest National Rail electric train fleets and now feature air conditioning, Wi-Fi, real-time information and power sockets at every seat. No wonder passenger satisfaction has soared 22 percentage points.

The new trains, like the Class 700 trains used by Thameslink, are 20 per cent lighter than the previous generation. This causes much less wear and tear to the tracks and, combined with the trains’ regenerative braking system,  makes them 33 per cent more energy efficient than the old trains.

In their short life to date, they have already generated 17 million kWh!

Great Northern managing director Tom Moran said: “Our new trains have transformed our passengers’ journeys by replacing their cramped, outdated 42-year-old trains, with fully-accessible, spacious, modern air-conditioned units with the latest in passenger information, on-board Wi-Fi and power points at every pair of seats.

“Hidden away, underneath the carriages, electric motors help the trains brake, feeding the energy back into the network for use by other trains. That technology has already generated 17 million kWh – enough to power the homes of Welwyn and Hatfield Borough for more than a month, potentially saving more than 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

“With all our managed stations now using energy generated from a clean, renewable source, passengers can travel safe in the knowledge they are doing their bit for the planet.”

Catherine West MP said: “These new trains Great Northern has brought in have made a huge difference for commuters. They are modern, spacious and air-conditioned but best of all they are much better for the environment. I am very pleased to learn how much energy they generate and how many tonnes of carbon dioxide that could be saving.”

Electric trains are considered to be the most sustainable form of public transport and those with regenerative braking have even better ‘green credentials’.

The new Class 717 Moorgate fleet completed a £2bn fleet modernisation programme by parent company Govia Thameslink Railway, which also brought in 115 new Thameslink trains and new Class 387 carriages for the Gatwick Express and Great Northern, all with regenerative braking.

All these new trains, combined with the regenerative braking of other Southern Class 377s, mean that GTR’s fleet has generated more than 183 million kWh in the past 12 months, potentially saving more than 43,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

GTR has diesel trains on just two routes, both run by Southern Rail: the Marshlink line between Ashford and Hastings, Kent, and the Uckfield line in East Sussex. GTR is supporting Network Rail as it studies the feasibility of electrifying these routes and identifies back-up alternatives such as battery power to achieve a zero-carbon solution.