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{© Stuart Smith

Monday 11th July 2016

Having been a few years since the Institutions last visit to Litchurch Lane, (on that occasion coinciding with the award of the Thameslink Class 387/2 programme), this visit also was timely, as we had been made aware of the prospect of viewing the first ever 'complete' Class 345 unit for the Crossrail project - literally only days after it had rolled off the production line!

Our group met at Derby station and made the short walk to the works itself. Here we were met by our usual host, Kathryn Lancaster (Internal Communications Manager for Bombardier Transportation), who escorted us through to the works canteen, thus enabling our members to take lunch prior to the official visit. At this point, the heavens literally opened (it had been forecast), and normal conversation became almost impossible over the sound of deluging rain on the canteen roof. Suitable fed, we made our way back to the main reception building to receive our security/safety brief before heading into the works areas.

With production on the S-Stock now virtually complete, the works are fully involved in the Class 387 Electric Multiple Units. These are being constructed for several operators- namely Great Western Trains, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and C2C (although the latter batch may be used by other TOC's now instead). The process of assembly is the same as we have witnessed on previous visits. "Upside down" being the key words here!

Work starts with the roof sections, where electrical cabling and a/c components are added. Under-frames and body-side panels (these are hollow, with a honeycomb design inside for strength, but without the added weight) are added at subsequent stages, as are either the intermediate ends, or driving cabs (dependant on the actual vehicle).

All components are delivered to Litchurch Lane in a 'factory-ready' condition, to ensure a delay free assemble line is maintained. Windows and exterior doors are fitted at the end of the production line, prior to the train being put through a wash plant to check for any water ingress. If found, remedial work is carried out prior to final testing.

Electrical testing is carried out on individual vehicles first, then in pairs, and then finally as a complete unit. If satisfactory, the train is then moved to the 1.4km test track, and operated at up to 40mph. Units are then 'signed-off', before being moved to the relevant TOC operating base, or the Old Dalby test track.

Derby Works is also currently handling overhauls on the Class 375 units for South Eastern Trains. These are moved by Rail Operations Group (ROG) to/from Ramsgate Depot.

During our visit, we identified three Class 08 diesel shunters, these being: 08511, 08682 (which also carries works number '004') and 08846.

The final part of our visit was to the brand-new, purpose built, V-Shop. This was only finished a short time prior to our visit, on Friday 13th May. The building is solely for use by the new Crossrail Class 345 trains, and is state-of-the-art, with all the latest features required for train assembly. The building, which is 250metres long, has capacity for 4x 9car sets, and we were privileged to view 345001 inside. The set has initially been delivered in a 7-car formation, and will undergo 18 months testing before having the final 2 vehicles added.

Derby Litchurch Lane Works