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​Air-conditioned trains breeze on to Great Northern this autumn

Press release   •   Sep 27, 2016 14:54 BST

Air-conditioned trains will be breezing onto the Great Northern route for the first time ever next month, as the rail firm gives passengers cooler, more comfortable journeys between the capital and Peterborough and Cambridge.

They are the first of three types of modern train that over the next three years will steadily replace almost all of the trains on the network that are up to 40 years old, creating one of the newest train fleets in the country.

The trains being introduced this autumn feature:

  • Greater reliability than existing trains
  • Two-by-two seating with tables and power points throughout for those who want to work or play and charge their devices
  • Modern passenger information systems
  • Spaces for people in wheelchairs, fully accessible toilets and other features for people with disabilities

And from May next year, subject to work to be carried out by Network Rail, these first new trains will also run on the Fen Line, between Cambridge and King’s Lynn.

Great Northern Passenger Services Director Keith Jipps said:

“We’re introducing more reliable, modern air-conditioned trains that will keep passengers as cool as a cucumber and be great for people with disabilities. We think passengers will love the two-by-two seating and the power points at every seat.

“This is part of an overall plan to replace almost all the trains on the Great Northern route by 2020 – and those few trains that will remain are themselves going through a £30m refurbishment programme.

“In just a few short years, we’ll be moving from one of the oldest fleets in the country to one of the newest.”

The new trains are integral to a wide range of proposed service changes and improvements on Great Northern for 2018 that parent company Govia Thameslink Railway announced on Monday. This includes new cross-London Thameslink services at stations to and from Stevenage, Cambridge and Peterborough, double the number of semi-fast trains to and from Peterborough and double the number of semi-fast and stopping services off peak to and from Cambridge. There will also be many more inner suburban services. You can view the press release here


For more information, contact the Great Northern press office on 0203 750 2031 or email

Editor’s notes

The first air-conditioned train to run on Great Northern will serve the following stations: Ashwell & Morden; Baldock; Cambridge; Finsbury Park; Foxton; Hatfield; Hitchin; Knebworth; Kings Cross; Letchworth Gdn City; Meldreth; Potters Bar; Royston; Shepreth; Stevenage; Welwyn Garden City; Welwyn North; then later, next year, the route from Cambridge to King’s Lynn

The 29 new trains that will be steadily introduced on to the Great Northern route starting this October are Bombardier’s Derby-built Class 387/1 Electrostars. They are around two years old and have been in service on the Bedford – Brighton Thameslink route. As new Class 700 Thameslink trains come into service, the Class 387/1 trains are being moved from Thameslink to Great Northern.

Two other types of new train are being introduced: the Class 700 train that will run to and from Peterborough, Cambridge and link into the Thameslink route at St Pancras International in 2018, and Class 717 trains that will operate the Moorgate services from 2019.

About half the 40 Class 365 trains will remain and these are going through a £30m refurbishment programme.

Previous plans were to cascade fewer trains of a different type from Thameslink to Great Northern (17 Class 377s). Not only are there more Class 387 trains being transferred instead but these trains are capable of accelerating quicker and operating faster, at up to 110mph instead of 100mph, in the future. This helps Great Northern improve services across the route and also to provide extra services for the new Cambridge North station when it opens.

Ely and Cambridge North

If Great Northern is able to extend its fast King’s Cross-Cambridge ‘flyers’ to Ely in May 2017 (this depends on Network Rail infrastructure changes) then this will not only double the service between Ely and Cambridge/King’s Cross to two trains per hour, but it will help serve the new station at Cambridge North; stopping services from King’s Lynn to Cambridge would also stop at Cambridge North from May 2017, providing an initial service of two trains per hour at the new station.

By 2019, Cambridge North is proposed to have twice the number of trains – four per hour. Two from King’s Lynn and two from Ely (and vice versa).

Govia Thameslink Railway

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

Thameslink – services between Bedford and Brighton, Luton/St Albans and Sutton, Wimbledon 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 now the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff: GTR carries about 326 million passenger journeys per year, employs around 6,500 people and generates annual passenger revenues of approximately £1.3bn.

The GTR investment programme for stations includes funding for more CCTV, toilet refurbishments, new retail facilities, help points and car park improvements – as well as plans for increased motorcycle storage and improved transport integration.,,