Siemens- class 700-desiro

The first of the Siemens-built Class 700 Desiro City vehicles has been tested in a special climate chamber to validate endurance in extreme weather conditions.

Constructed as part of £6.5bn UK Government-sponsored Thameslink Programme, the new trains will be operated on the Thameslink and Great Northern routes.

First Capital Connect Thameslink Programme director Jonathan Bridgewood said: "These rigorous tests not only build our confidence in the reliability of the train but they also show that passengers will always be able to travel in comfort whether it is bitterly cold outside or a real summer scorcher."

The climate testing was carried out on three vehicles in the Rail Tec Arsenal climate chamber in Vienna, Austria. First Capital Connect will be the train operator and Eversholt Rail Group will be owner of the vehicles.

The Class 700 was tested under conditions such as solar gain, relative humidity, snow and ice conditions and very high wind speeds in the ‘large’ climatic wind tunnel (CWT).

Its interior components, like air conditioning and heating, and exterior mounted components, were examined including performance of traction/brake functionality and exterior CCTV camera in extreme conditions.

Siemens Rail Systems UK Thameslink programme director Iain Smith said: "Extreme weather conditions are just part of an intensive test process for the Class 700.

"Each of the 1,140 carriages will also undergo rigorous testing and fault free mileage accumulation at Wildenrath to ensure the trains are as close to working ‘out of the box’ as possible and ready for passenger service on the important Thameslink routes."

The new energy efficient electric trains will provide 80% more peak seats across between Blackfriars and St Pancras, and with 30% more seats on all Thameslink north services that run fast from St Albans to London.

In addition, the new trains will offer 15% more seats from stations along the line from Peterborough and Cambridge and over 60% more carriages into London Bridge.

The new trains will be operational in early 2016, and the units will operate at high frequencies across central London from 2018.

Image: Siemens-built first Class 700 Desiro City in the special chamber during testing. Photo: courtesy of First Capital Connect Ltd.