UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has opened the Three Bridges train care facility in Crawley, West Sussex, as part of the government’s multi-billion pound Thameslink Programme.
Designed for the new Thameslink trains, the new Three Bridges depot has been built by VolkerFitzpatrick for Siemens and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).
VolkerFitzpatrick, which will maintain GTR’s new 12 and eight-car trains, secured a contract in 2013 to design, build and commission two new train maintenance depots.
Siemens has invested approximately €400m in these two depots as part of its wider investment in the UK through the Thameslink Programme.
In addition to the Three Bridges depot, a similar hi-tech train care centre is being built in Hornsey, which is expected to be completed next year.
The new Class 700 Desiro City trains will be maintained and serviced at the new Three Bridges depot, which is already home to the first two trains from the new Thameslink fleet.
The depot will also play a major part in housing and maintaining the new 1,140 carriage fleet for the expanded Thameslink network.
VolkerFitzpatrick managing director Richard Offord said: "We are delighted to be able to deliver this ground-breaking facility to Siemens in preparation for the new Class 700 trains operating on the line.
"We have worked closely with Siemens to ensure that Three Bridges meets all the requirements of the new rolling stock so that services on the Thameslink and Great Northern routes can be maintained to the highest possible standards."
When complete, the expanded Thameslink network will operate from Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough to Brighton, Horsham, Gatwick, Maidstone and Sevenoaks.
Scheduled to be completed in 2018, the Thameslink Programme will transform journeys for passengers, with new trains, substantially increased capacity, improved connectivity and upgraded stations.
McLoughlin said: "Our plan for passengers is delivering real improvements for those who use Thameslink services.
"The opening of this state-of-the-art facility is a major milestone and paves the way for an impressive new fleet of hi-tech trains to come into service from spring next year."
"The improvements will transform rail travel for millions of passengers, with better journeys on fantastic new Class 700 trains, improved connections and upgraded stations.
"The programme is also creating thousands of jobs across the country."
The Three Bridges depot is fully equipped with signal technology and has key personnel safety features, including a depot protection and emergency electrical isolation system.
It also features an automatic inspection facility, which uses laser measurement to accurately predict when key train components need to be maintained or replaced.
Image: The new Thameslink Three Bridges train care facility in Crawley. Photo: courtesy of VolkerFitzpatrick.