Passengers get taster of the new Rock Rail trains set to transform Great Northern suburban service

Rock Rail

The first Class 717 train carried passengers on Great Northern’s suburban route from Moorgate to Gordon Hill on September 28

The train is one of 25 six-carriage Class 717 trains built by Siemens that will replace mainland Britain’s oldest electric trains, the 40-year-old Class 313s, with a phased introduction due to run from late autumn this year to spring next year.

The Desiro City 717s owned and financed by Rock Rail Moorgate, (a joint venture between Rock Rail and Aberdeen Standard Investments), represent the first fleet of trains to be introduced into the UK using a new model for financing rolling stock. For the first time financing has been provided through direct long-term investment from pension and insurance companies, delivering benefits not only for the rail passenger, but also for pensioners and the wider economy.

As well as air conditioning, Wi-Fi and power points, the new trains will provide a 27% increase in capacity to address the near-doubling of passenger numbers on Great Northern in 14 years.

The new fleet will operate between Moorgate and Hertfordshire, to and from Stevenage, Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City.

First passenger on board, Samantha Radford of Gordon Hill, said: “This is better for commuting, it’s so spacious. I will probably favour this with its air conditioning and better layout over the Underground; I think the air conditioning is a huge comfort issue, especially for anyone with small children or a health condition – it is going to make a massive difference. I also like the Wi-Fi and the fact you can charge your phone.”

Mark Swindell, Chief Executive Officer of Rock Rail, said: “This first journey of the Class 717 train with passengers represents an exciting milestone in the successful delivery of the first of the fleets owned by Rock Rail and equity partner Aberdeen Standard Investments.

“We are proud to be part of a collaboration with Govia Thameslink Railway and Siemens and with our investor partners to drive better value for the UK tax payer and government and to deliver step changes in improved capability, services and travelling experiences for passengers on the Great Northern services between Moorgate and Hertfordshire.”

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