In the trade press back in August, Sadiq Khan was noted taking a ride on the Crossrail line – now to be known as the ‘Elizabeth Line’ – but it’s not finished I hear you cry, and it has no trains working!
Well that doesn’t seem to cut any ice for PR purposes – I remember the Queen taking the trip up to Barrow-in-Furness to launch the UK’s first Polaris submarine, and the local authority asked if she’d mind opening the new market too! Talk about nerve eh?! And to add kudos to the show, HM was believed to have commented that this was the first time she’d been asked to open an unfinished building.
I wonder if this is a new PR exercise for the London Mayor – get in there quick, before someone pulls the plug?
But to be fair, this new route smack through the middle of London is looking good, and apparently the new Class 345 multiple units will be delivered on time and in time for the opening …. soon. Well around 2018 to be precise, and the whole Crossrail / Elizabeth Line thing won’t be fully open for another 3 years! Makes you wonder if it might need to be upgraded because more people want to use it – especially all those planning to use HS2 to get to London from Birmingham?
One thing that has struck me when digging into the Class 345s, which Bombardier won the contract to build, is that the company “Class 345 Trains Limited” has – according to Companies House data, been around since 1960. Talk about back to the future – but yes, I know companies are and can be set up by purchasing pre-existing names – but 1960, and based at Derby Litchurch Lane, when British Railways were still building Mark 1 corridor coaches there – – that’s maybe stretching the imagination a bit.
The company that existed in 1960 was ML Engineering Ltd., a Plymouth based business whose principal activity was manufacture and supply of signalling systems, including equipment from Ericsson in Sweden. But it had a number of other strings to its bow, mostly in defence and aeronautical engineering.
Between 1960 and 2012, the company now registered as “Class 345 Trains Limited” had quote a few previous names:
|BOMBARDIER TRANSPORTATION (SIGNAL MANAGEMENT) UK LTD||05 Jul 2001 – 17 Oct 2012|
|DAIMLERCHRYSLER RAIL SYSTEMS (SIGNAL MANAGEMENT) LTD||24 Jun 1999 – 05 Jul 2001|
|ABB DAIMLER-BENZ TRANSPORTATION (SIGNAL MANAGEMENT)LIMITED||20 Feb 1997 – 24 Jun 1999|
|ABB DAIMLER-BENZ TRANSPORTATION (SIGNAL) LIMITED||24 Jan 1996 – 20 Feb 1997|
|ABB SIGNAL LIMITED||05 Dec 1991 – 24 Jan 1996|
|EB SIGNAL (UK) LIMITED||15 Jan 1990 – 05 Dec 1991|
|M.L. ENGINEERING (PLYMOUTH) LIMITED||21 Mar 1960 – 15 Jan 1990|
1990 of course was when the final privatisation of the old BR Workshops began
This is what the Class 345s will look like – based on Bombardier’s generic AVENTRA trains – some 65 of the 9-car sets will be built in all, along with the new maintenance depot at Old Oak Common – a familiar BR depot from years ago.
Whilst the new trains are being built at Bombardier’s Derby site – once home to ML Engineering, ABB, Adtranz etc., etc., in the £1.3 billion contract, the manufacturer will also provide maintenance and support services.
It is slightly ironic, in a way, since although new jobs are being created, it is 50 years since the major BR workshops redundancy programme was in its first phase, and as more workshops and centres were closed in the 1980s, Derby at least has survived in some form.