INTRO: British franchisee Connex Rail has demonstrated a Class 375 Electrostar train to Brighton passengers, but the units will not enter service until next year

RESTRICTED running trials have begun in east Kent with the first Class 375 unit for British franchisee Connex Rail. Because Railtrack has only granted the train a limited ’T’ test certificate, the trials can only take place under strictly controlled conditions with no other trains operating. Connex expects an interim ’I’ (Non-Passenger) certificate to be granted ’during summer 2000’, which would allow driver training to begin. Around six months of endurance running will be needed before the trains can enter service on Kent Coast routes.

Connex has now ordered a total of 450 Class 375 vehicles for its two franchises, South Eastern and South Central: 45 four-car and 10 three-car sets for CSE, 28 three-car and nine four-car sets for CSC, plus the 120 cars forming the CSC option announced in April (RG 5.00 p280).

The unit displayed at Brighton in April had not run under its own power, although Brighton commuters can be comforted by the knowledge that the first trains for CSC are likely to take over Brighton Express services to London. This would allow the refurbished Class 319/2 units currently on these workings to be cascaded to other routes.

Class 375 units for CSC and CSE are being built to a common specification, with the first 30 sets fitted at delivery for 750V DC third rail and 25 kV 50Hz dual-voltage operation. Later sets will be designed for AC equipment to be added later.

Cars have a mix of facing and face-to-back 2+2 seating, with 20 of the CSC sets having 2+3 seating in the central saloon of each car. There is no first class, but Connex says that ’the actual commercial offer will be determined later’, suggesting that some seating may be designated for premium fare customers at certain times of the day.

The fully-carpeted interiors have ’washed’ main lighting and individual reading lights, with armrests and coat hooks for all seats. Luggage racks appear to be surprisingly shallow, and given that the trains will be serving Gatwick Airport, space for suitcases is limited - although there is plenty of room in the area provided for wheelchair passengers or bicycles. Two roof-mounted air-conditioning packs are fitted in each car, but some windows have hopper vents for emergency ventilation.

Door controls are fitted at one doorway on each side of each car, together with a screen where the conductor will be able to view any part of the train’s interior using concealed cameras. The driver can also view passengers on a screen in the cab, but only when the train is stationary - the CCTV display will cut out at 6·5 km/h.

The driver uses the same touch screen to input the train’s description and other data at the start of each run. Trains will have GPS equipment allowing them to ’know’ their location at any time. This will give them an ’intelligent’ capability, which would for example be used to handle selective door opening at stations with short platforms.

The twin-leaf doors have an automatic close facility after 15sec. If the obstacle detector beam is interrupted, the 15sec cycle restarts. This will happen five times before the doors are locked open, requiring manual intervention. n

Class 375 suppliers

Main contractor Adtranz

Doors IFE

Air-conditioning Air International

WCs Temoinsa

Passenger seats Compin

Driver’s seat Chapman

Gangways Hübner

Train radio Motorola

Passenger Information System Whiteley

CAPTION: Brighton station was host to a Class 375 unit in April, but the train was not permitted to run under its own power

CAPTION: Interiors have various seat moquettes in the saloons