UK-based rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook has conducted ETCS testing of Bombardier-built Class 387 trains.

The initiative also involved teams from the UK Department for Transport (DfT), Great Western Railway (GWR), DB Cargo, Bombardier, and Heathrow Airport.

Overall, more than ten test runs were conducted to evaluate on-train hardware and software, as well as related infrastructure.

Porterbrook CEO Mary Grant said: “Notwithstanding these challenging times, we need to continue focusing on delivering key projects so that the railway is ready to support UK PLC when the current situation stabilises.

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“Introduction of an ETCS fitted fleet on services to Heathrow is just such a project and will enable a service uplift to meet expected passenger numbers when the airport returns to its role as a key European aviation hub.”

Later this year, these Class 387 trains will start operating as Heathrow Express, the airport rail link between London Heathrow Airport and London Paddington.

Each of these vehicles will feature at-seat USB power, Wi-Fi and larger luggage space to ensure comfortable passenger journeys.

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Bombardier UK president Matt Byrne said: “Though we are now on a production pause, project progress and industry cooperation continues wherever it is safe to do so.

“This landmark refurbishment and upgrade project, involving teams from both our services and rail control solutions businesses, is an industry-first: retrofitting ETCS equipment to existing fleets.”

Since 1996, Porterbrook has invested around £3bn in rail, including the commissioning of more than 2,500 new passenger and freight vehicles.

Last year, the company launched an innovation centre to test new rail technologies.