Some of Britain's oldest electric trains have been replaced with a new £240m fleet to be used by passengers on the Great Northern route between Moorgate and Hertfordshire.
Train operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has invested the sum in a batch of new trains that will replace those that first came into service in 1976 between now and the end of the summer.
The 25 new six-carriage Siemens class 717 trains will run on the Great Northern routes between Moorgate and Hertfordshire, to and from Stevenage, Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City.
The new trains can carry 940 people – nearly 100 more than the current fleet can hold, and are air conditioned and fitted out with WiFi. The carriages are interconnected, meaning passengers can move from one end of the train to another.
A new "snow mode" will enable the trains to function better in wintery conditions.
Earlier this month the Mail on Sunday reported that a design flaw meant drivers were unable to see fully out of the front window of the train to see signals on the platform, an obvious safety hazard.
A GTR spokesperson said the trains have been designed to work with a new in-cab digital signalling system that will provide more space for passengers. However, until the system is fully in place, Network Rail has agreed to move some signals at four stations where drivers complained of signal sighting issues.
Until the signals are moved, a second member of staff will assist the driver in the cab at four stations where visibility has been a problem – Drayton Park, Highbury & Islington, Essex Road and Old Street.
Gerry McFadden, engineering director at GTR, said: “We are transforming our passengers’ journeys by replacing their cramped, outdated 40-year-old trains, which are the oldest electrical units in mainland Britain, with fully-accessible, spacious, modern air-conditioned units with the latest in passenger information, onboard Wi-Fi and power points at every pair of seats.
William Wilson, managing director for rolling stock at Siemens, said: “Siemens has built these trains with one goal in mind – to transform passenger journeys to and from London by ensuring that services are reliable and offer as much space as possible. The class 717 has modern carriages with increased capacity for passengers and is equipped with air cooling, Wifi and power points.”
The new trains are financed by Rock Rail Moorgate, a joint venture between rolling stock company Rock Rail and Aberdeen Standard Investments, which will lease the trains to GTR.