Class 360/2 EMUs

UK: The Global Centre of Rail Excellence has acquired three Class 360/2 EMUs which will be made available for testing ETCS, novel train control, traction systems and other innovations at the test centre which is being developed in South Wales.

The 25 kV 50 Hz EMUs were previously used on Heathrow Connect stopping services between Heathrow Airport and London Paddington. After withdrawal they were acquired by Rail Operations Group in February 2021, but hopes for further use did not materialise, and so they were destined for scrap.

The 160 km/h trains are currently stored at MoD Bicester and will be moved to GCRE next year, when the site’s commercial rolling stock storage facility becomes available to the wider market.

GCRE will feature two test loops, both electrified at 25 kV 50 Hz. One will be a 6·9 km fast test track with a design speed of 175 km/h. The 4 km inner loop designed for 60 km/h will primarily be used for testing infrastructure using heavy passenger or freight trains, including the Class 360 fleet, with operations 16 h a day, five days a week to provide 20 MGT/60 000 axle passes. This will create a realistic replica of a UK main line for rapid life and degradation testing of infrastructure components.

‘GCRE is strategically important for the whole UK rail industry’, said Chief Technical Officer Andy Doherty on October 4. ‘Our target is to enable high technology readiness level testing within an extreme environment, becoming the one-stop-shop for railway innovation with state-of-the-art rolling stock testing, infrastructure testing and storage and maintenance.’