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​“Smart” brakes improve energy consumption on Govia Thameslink Railway fleet

Press release   •   Nov 01, 2019 11:03 GMT

Class 717s are more energy efficient than previous generations of trains.

GTR’s trains are now returning over 50% more energy to the network to help power the fleet, following the completion of a £2bn modernisation programme.

Some 115 Siemens Class 700s on Thameslink and 25 Class 717s on Great Northern have on-board systems which recover more energy than previous generations of trains. This energy was otherwise lost in the heat from braking friction on the trains they replaced. Overall, the amount of regenerative energy has been improved by 50 %. 

The energy returned to the network, 15.8 GWh per four weeks, is the equivalent of almost two weeks of domestic energy consumption in one of the towns on the GTR network.

The green improvements come as the rail operator releases its 2019 Sustainability Report, with other energy-cutting initiatives such as the upgrade of platform lights at all GTR stations to LEDs, which cut energy use by up to 80%, as well as new seasonal lighting controls to further reduce consumption.

Some 33 retailers at GTR stations also participate in the national “Refill” campaign offering free tap water to passengers with reusable water bottles.

GTR’s Head of Environment Jason Brooker said: “We are committed to operating a more sustainable railway by embracing initiatives to tackle energy and water consumption, manage resources more efficiently and reduce waste to ensure we lower our impact on the environment.”

To access GTR's 2019 Sustainability Report, visit https://www.thameslinkrailway.com/about-us/corporate-and-social-responsibility/environment/sustainability-reports

Editor's notes

With this fleet of modern trains now in operation, 15.8 GWh of energy is now returned to the network from regenerative braking, an extra 5.6 GWh every 4 weeks compared to 18 months ago.

This is enough to power domestic energy consumption in the towns below:

  • Crawley for 12 days
  • Brighton and Hove for 4 days
  • Cambridge for 11 days
  • Peterborough for 7 days
  • Bedford for 7 days

Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:

  • Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
  • Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
  • Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
  • Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria

GTR is currently the most punctual of the large and complex operators in UK rail according to 'On Time' statistics released by the Office of Rail and Road for May, June and July 2019, and fourth of all train operators in the UK

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