THE first tri-mode train in Britain is set to enter service with GWR early in 2021.
The operator has received the first example of a Class 769 unit, which is a conversion of a former Thameslink dual-voltage Class 319 unit with the addition of diesel power.
The project has been sponsored by Porterbrook Leasing, which will eventually provide 19 of the Class 769 ‘Flex’ units.
The first one is now at Reading depot for testing and staff training. The four-car 769s will be able to run under 25kV OHLE, use a conductor rail or run under their own power on non-electrified lines. GWR says it will be using the fleet on the North Downs line between Reading, Redhill and Gatwick Airport, releasing the existing Turbo units for service in the Bristol area. Apart from the North Downs route, GWR is also planning to use 769s on the Henley and Marlow branches. These lines were originally candidates for electrification under the 2012 HLOS, but were later removed from the GWML scheme to reduce costs.
GWR’s head of fleet production John Murphy said: ‘A lot of hard work has been done to make sure people feel that they can travel safely at the present time, and that includes running more trains and carriages to make extra room.’
Like other operators, GWR will be increasing the number of services it runs from September.