THE FIRST Bombardier Aventra Class 345 EMU for the Elizabeth Line is on course to enter service in late May on the Liverpool Street to Shenfield route, currently operating under the guise of TfL Rail.

In early April two units, Nos 345002/005, were undergoing testing, with a third, No 345006, expected to arrive imminently. All three are reduced length seven-car units, 15 of which will be delivered to initially operate the Shenfield service, as full length nine-car units are too long for the dedicated terminal platforms at Liverpool Street station.

TfL’s Operations Director Crossrail Howard Smith told Modern Railways in early April that the testing of the units had been proceeding well and that the programme is ‘on the correct trajectory’. The aim is to first introduce a single ‘345’, likely on off-peak services initially, before the introduction of new units is stepped up during the summer. By September it is planned that 11 of the 22 TfL Rail diagrams will be operated by seven-car ‘345s’. Dynamic testing of full-length units within the central London tunnels is scheduled for the end of 2017.

Although some of the Class 315s which currently operate TfL Rail services will be displaced this summer, others will be retained until late 2019. They will not be finally withdrawn until the terminal platforms at Liverpool Street have been reconfigured to accommodate full length ‘345s’, with this work planned to take place between May and December 2019, once Shenfield services have begun operating through the central tunnels. A residual peak-hour Elizabeth Line service into the terminal platforms at Liverpool Street is planned as part of the Elizabeth Line timetable.

The 15 reduced length units will be made up to the full nine-car formation by the addition of two MSO vehicles, with this work carried out at the dedicated Old Oak Common depot, where the units will be maintained by Bombardier.

A total of 66 Class 345s are currently on order for the Elizabeth Line, although as we reported last month (p15) it is expected that a further four will be added to support an enhanced timetable; plans to do so were approved by TfL’s board on 29 March.