Old meets new in west London: Southall on 28 June 2019, with No 360204 forming the 10.03 Paddington to Heathrow stopping service as No 345029 works the 10.18 Hayes & Harlington to Paddington. Class 345s have now begun to takeover airport services from the ‘360s’.
A Bombardier Class 345 carried its first passengers to Heathrow Airport on 30 July in a further step towards the opening of the Elizabeth Line.
Nine-car unit No 345004 operated the maiden service, the 05.32 from Paddington. The stopping service to the airport has latterly been operated by Class 360s, with introduction of Class 345s to the airport delayed by just over two years due to compatibility issues with the ‘345s’ and the European Train Control System (ETCS) signalling on the airport branch.
In addition, all nine-car Class 345s were withdrawn from service in mid-June due to a software issue, which is now resolved. The nine-car sets have a more advanced software version than the shorter seven-car ‘345s’, which TfL substituted in their place in the interim. Nine-car units already worked Paddington to Reading stopping services before their withdrawal; eventually the full Elizabeth Line fleet will be converted to full nine-car length, but ‘345s’ operating east of the capital on Liverpool Street to Shenfield services are currently limited to seven carriages due to platform length constraints at Liverpool Street.
TfL says initially only one ‘345’ will operate to Heathrow alongside the older ‘360s’, with more sets to be introduced in the coming months. At present the stopping service to Heathrow is half-hourly, but this is to rise to four trains per hour with the extension of the half-hourly services which currently terminate at Hayes & Harlington.