Lee Valley Electrostars
© copyright photographs by Colin Duff
Electrostars pass at Tottenham Hale on a very wet 16th June 2011.
379006 at the rear of 379008 in platform 1 is working the 07:43 Stansted Airport to Liverpool Street service whilst 379023 leading 379007 is about to stop in platform 2 with the 08:10 Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport.
The thirty strong fleet of Class 379 new generation Bombardier "Electrostars" is the first brand new passenger stock on the Lee Valley Line since 1990 when the five class 322s for the then new Stansted Express service were introduced. The Class 322s came and went a few times before they departed for good in 2000, leaving services in the hands of Class 315s supplied from new and Class 317s cascaded from the Midland and the Great Northern lines.
These units were ordered in April 2009 by Lloyds TSB for National Express East Anglia in an order worth £173million which includes three years of maintenance. The first unit, unfitted out 379001, commenced testing at Bombardier's Derby plant in September 2010. As with the first generation "Electrostars" the cars are of 20m nominal length and the Class 379 is configured DMOC - PTOS - MOSL - DMOS. The first class compartments in the DMOC are from the rear pair of doors forward to the driving cab bulkhead. Cameras, and lights for illumination, are fitted in the front fairings and in the vicinity of the pantograph well to record, for later analysis, track and overhead wire defects; though being an audio-video professional I wonder how much fine detail can be recorded at high speed, and particularly in the case of the pantograph camera, in the wake of electrical arching?
379001, was hauled from Bombardier Derby to Dollands Moor overnight 3rd into the 4th September 2010 for onward transport through the Channel Tunnel to the Velim Test Centre in the Czech Republic. It returned to the UK overnight 23rd into the 24th December and was hauled from Dollands Moor to Ilford Depot on 24th December. By Christmas units up to 379007 were built. The first observation of testing out of Ilford (to Kings Lynn), using 379001 and 379002, was on 15th January 2011. 379001 and 379002 were initially used for testing and driver training working out of Ilford Depot, but they soon returned to Derby for completion. The bulk of pre-acceptance testing was done on the West Coast Mainline between Crewe and Rugby using DB Schenker drivers. National Express East Anglia driver training was done between Bishops Stortford and Cambridge.
On 1st and 2nd March 379005 was the first unit to receive full National Express East Anglia branding and it was used solo for the first passenger carrying run, the 1B24 20:10 Liverpool Street - Stansted Airport, on the 3rd March.
Details of the livery carried by these units now appears on the livery page.
There was an official handover ceremony at Liverpool Street on 17th March, when 379005 was named "Stansted Express", followed by a run to Stansted Airport with 379005 and 379006. The pair subsequently ran to Cambridge with a fast run back to Liverpool Street in 57 minutes. Note, contrary to hype, this was not a record breaking run, with diesel hauled Kings Lynn services in the 1980s known to be marginally quicker. Initially the 379s were used on Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport services. Regular passenger runs began in mid March, initially ad-hoc on lighter loaded and less critical services. From the 11th April one all day diagram was introduced followed a week later by two regular all-day diagrams. By mid April 379005 to 379013 had been accepted for traffic. From 9th May three diagrams were observed running on some days.
Between 15th April and 23rd May 379014 to 379024 had been observed being tested on the West Coast mainline. Of note, 379020 entered service on 25th May but failed during the day. Also on its first day of service 379015 was paired with 379011 and they were removed from service for a few hours, but it is not known which of the pair was deemed the failure. By the middle of July only 379002 and 379030 were outstanding and had not been been reported being tested on the WCML. This final pair were delivered to Ilford on 9th August and entered service the following day, thus all thirty being available for service from 10th August 2011.
Liverpool Street - Stansted services were expected to be entirely run by 379s from the summer timetable change on 22nd May but Class 317s still ran some diagrams until 9th August. Diagrammed use on select Liverpool Street - Cambridge and Kings Lynn services began on 13th June with expanded use of the class on this route planned from from the December 2011 timetable change, but they were phased in earlier as unit availability and driver training allowed. Around the December timetable change 12 car workings for certain Cambridge services were introduced.
Class 317s released are being used to increase capacity on other Lee Valley services, and also now run the Barking - Upminster shuttle. Additionally there have been a few instances of 317s on Great Eastern "Metro" workings. Use of Class 315 units on Hertford East services has reduced, Class 317/8s now work pooled with 317/5s. For a time three unbranded 317/7s (317719/22/29) remained in regular service but now the whole sub-class has gone off-lease and is being stored.
Introduction to passenger service dates - in 2011 - were observed to be (please note these dates are from observation reports and not official documentation):
Please use the below table to select the page for a particular unit. Once on a page you can navigate back to here to select another unit, or straight to the next or previous unit's page. Further pictures and more information will be added periodically. Many of these pictures were taken in similar locations at similar times because the majority were taken on my journeys to and from work, not on special photographic expeditions.
I had difficulty photographing my final six missing units due to appalling weather or arriving just in time to see the unit moving out of the platform, some days both applying simultaneously! However, on 29th September 2011 I finally completed the set by polishing 003 off my list.
The 379s had only been in service seven months and they were already on to their second operator. Having got the wrong side of the Department of Transport for withdrawing from the East Coast franchise the National Express Group was not selected as a preferred bidder for the new Greater Anglia franchise. Nor was the option for a short extension of their existing franchise exercised. Thus on 5th February 2012 Abellio (a division of Netherlands Railways) commenced a management contract of 29 months (NOT a franchise) trading as "Greater Anglia" pending selection of a franchisee for a longer term lease. For details of the resulting livery changes, please see the Class 379 Livery page.
I intend adding more pictures, with slightly more variety of locations and services, and including running for Greater Anglia, as time permits over the coming months.
Colin. 26th November 2012