updated on 11th Dec 2022 11:53 posted on 15th Oct 2022 21:54
In early October, the Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) of Wales has acquired three Class 360/2 EMUs from Rail Operations Group (ROG). They were previously used to operate the Heathrow Connect stopping services between Heathrow Airport and London Paddington, and the five units were subsequently in 2021 bouhgt by ROG.
Currently stored at MoD Bicester, these Desiros had been facing the end of the line and were destined for scrap but the three of the quintet will be moved to the future test facility during 2023 when its own commercial rolling stock storage becomes available to the wider market. The fleet will then be used as part of the GCRE research and innovation offer. The trains will be available to the industry to test ETCS, novel train control, traction and suspension and many other railway innovations.
Andy Doherty, GCRE Chief Technical Officer, said: “Our investment in this fleet of Class 360/2 EMUs is an important step towards achieving our vision of putting the UK at the very heart of 21st century sustainable transport innovation."
David Burley, Chief Operating Officer at Rail Operations Group, said: “The Class 360 units have been in store at MoD Bicester since we acquired them from Heathrow Airport in February 2021. They are an excellent fleet for rail testing purposes and will certainly help GCRE to deliver the robust testing facilities that the UK and European rail industry desperately needs. What’s more, repurposing them for testing means that they are now saved from the scrapyard.”
We asked ROG, what are the exact inventory numbers of the trio which will go to GCRE, and what fate awaits the remaining two 360/2s? ROG answered us: "We are unable to provide this information due to confidentiality."
However, we can add that the units to be transferred to GCRE will be 360 201, 202 and 203, because 360 204 and 205 have been scrapped (they were sent to Newport Docks for disposal already in August 2022, after nearly twenty years of life).