COMMUTER operator Thameslink has begun a train refurbishment programme, timed to follow the resumption in May of through running on its route across central London. Services had been suspended since last September to allow work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

The refurbishment will give ’a quick impact’ which passengers will notice. ’We disrupted journeys during the blockade’, said Managing Director Mark Causebrook, ’but there was nothing new at the end of it for passengers’.

Thameslink’s Class 319 four-car EMUs date from 1987-88. Contractor Rail Project Ltd is modernising the first class areas of the 319/4 units with more vandal-resistant seat covers, new tables, heater grilles and Novagraf anti-graffiti wall coverings. The standard class only 319/3 subclass will get new seat covers throughout. The toilets are being deep cleaned and repainted by JB Coatings, and a new livery is being applied to 15 of the EMUs.

The refurbishment includes changes to the doors and traction electronics, which account for the majority of failures. Obsolete and life-expired electrical components are being replaced by more reliable modern equivalents which use less power, and the door mechanisms are being modified to aid cleaning and repair.

Fitting remote diagnostics equipment will allow depot staff to use GPRS and Wi-Fi to obtain data from indicator relays and onboard microprocessors. Bespoke software will then analyse the data, flagging up components needing attention. Solid-state AWS is being fitted to 10 units, after testing on South West Trains Class 159 DMUs showed two failures in 4·8millionkm, both involving the same vehicle.

The work on the Porterbrook-owned units is being funded through the lease, and takes five days per set. In the longer term Alstom is to carry out more thorough overhauls of the trains, which will include stripping them to bare metal and inspection for corrosion damage.

CAPTION: RIGHT:15 of the Thameslink EMUs are receiving a new livery

BELOW:Deep cleaning the toilet compartments includes repainting the doors