Crossrail debut: the first passenger-carrying Class 345, No 345005, on arrival at Shenfield with the 10.35 from Liverpool Street on 22 June.
Antony Guppy

THE NEW Bombardier-built Class 345 EMU for London’s Elizabeth Line carried its first passengers between Liverpool Street and Shenfield on 22 June.

Transport for London confirmed on 13 July the ‘345’ order would be increased to a total of 70x9-car units to support a more frequent and extensive service on the Elizabeth Line (see ‘Crossrail Update’). The first 15 will be delivered as seven-car units to operate on the TfL Rail service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield – they are of reduced length due to the need to fit into the terminal platforms at Liverpool Street. It is planned that by September, 11 of the 22 diagrams on the Shenfield service will switch from the current Class 315 EMUs to ‘345’ operation.

The new trains, built at Bombardier’s Derby factory, offer air conditioning, walk-through carriages, intelligent lighting and temperature control, closed circuit television (CCTV) and passenger information displays offering travel information about onward journeys.

Bombardier reported in late June that 10x7-car units and 1x9-car unit had been completed. Two units had been accepted by TfL for passenger service, and a third was expected to follow imminently. Bombardier is now at the series production stage; the manufacturer expects peak production to be achieved towards the end of the year, when eight or nine cars per week will be produced. The seven-car units are based at Ilford depot, but the whole fleet will eventually be based at the new Old Oak Common depot in west London, which is due to be commissioned later this year.

Plenty of standing space: interior of the Class 345.
Antony Guppy
Clear passenger information: display on Class 345.
Antony Guppy


Introduction of the first unit into passenger service was around a month later than intended and marks the first of five phases of opening for the Elizabeth Line. In May next year TfL Rail is due to replace the Heathrow Connect service between London Paddington and Terminal 4 at the airport, using the first full length nine-car units in passenger service. This will be followed in December 2018 by the first services through the central London tunnels from Paddington to Abbey Wood, at which time the Elizabeth Line branding will be applied. Shenfield services will run through central London from May 2019, with the full network open in December that year.

The full length nine-car unit, No 345018, is presently at Network Rail’s Old Dalby test track for testing of the European Train Control System (ETCS, which will be used on the western side of the central tunnel from May next year) and of the Siemens communications-based train control (CBTC) system, which will drive trains automatically through the central tunnels. The eastern leg to Shenfield will use conventional signalling, and the seven-car units do not have ETCS or CBTC capability – this will be fitted when they are extended to nine carriages in 2019.

The ‘345’ is the first class of heavy rail train in the UK not to have a yellow front end, taking advantage of changes to standards announced by RSSB last year, with the headlights instead providing the required visibility. The introduction of the ‘345’ also marks the first passenger service run for Bombardier’s new Aventra platform.