UK: The first of 30 four-car Class 379 electric multiple-units ordered for National Express East Anglia services from London Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport and Cambridge was unveiled at Bombardier Transportation's Derby plant on October 14.

Although part of the Electrostar family, the Class 379 incorporates a number of technical changes from the original design developed in the late 1990s, making use of technologies which would be used on the Aventra next-generation Electrostar which Bombardier is proposing for the major Thameslink fleet renewal contract.

The body structure has been revised to meet European crashworthiness requirements. The window spacing has changed, with the glass bolted rather than glued in place to enable faster repairs. The couplers are from Dellner, and the gangways from Hübner. Top speed is 160 km/h, and the 25 kV 50 Hz trains will use regenerative braking at all times.

The interiors are designed to meet the European Persons with Reduced Mobility TSI, which has succeeded the UK's Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations. The two toilet modules per train are assembled by Bombardier, rather than bought in.

Seats are supplied by Primarius, with 189 standard class seats in a 2+2 layout and 20 first class seats at one end of the train arranged 1+2. Every seating bay has a power socket, and wi-fi will be provided; NXEA has not yet decided whether this will be a paid-for service. There are two storage lockers for catering trolleys, and additional luggage space compared to previous Electrostars. There is no provision for unfolded bicycles, which are not carried on airport services.

Another new feature is an onboard ethernet network, developed for Aventra. Bombardier's Orbita system relays diagnostic and performance information to the depot. As well as interior CCTV cameras there are cameras looking forward from the driver's window and at the bogies, track and pantograph, helping to identify faults which can then be attributed to the train operator or infrastructure manager. The train can upload images to the control centre on request.

The units were ordered in April 2009 at a cost of £155m, and are owned by Lloyds TSB, which acquired an extensive rail portfolio with its takeover of HBOS, which owned leasing firm CBRail.

Of the 30 units, 20 are to be deployed on Stansted Express services where NXEA feels the existing stock is 'out of kilter with modern standards' for airport traffic and should be redeployed elsewhere. The remainder will be used to increase capacity on Cambridge - London long-distance commuter services.

The revised Electrostar design has resulted in a slight increase in weight and changed dynamic performance. The initial unit is currently fitted with instrumentation and will be sent to the Velim circuit in the Czech Republic in early November for trials. Testing in the UK will begin in January, with handover to NXEA scheduled for March.

The trains will enter traffic on Stansted Express services from May, and on the Cambridge route later in the year.