New Kent Link trains start with power cut

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Indy Politics
BRITISH RAIL yesterday launched its new Networker commuter trains, but admitted that it cannot use them at full power because it does not have the money to pay for improving the electricity supply.

The Kent Link trains, for services from London to such commuter towns such Sevenoaks, Gillingham and Dartford, cost pounds 2.6m for a four-car train and are being introduced now.

Between now and mid-1994, 147 four-car and 43 two-car Networker trains will be brought into service.

This is the last major order for new rolling stock on Network SouthEast. Long-suffering commuters on other lines such as the Kent Coast and Fenchurch Street to Southend and Tilbury have no prospect of new trains until the end of the century, unless the Government makes new funds available.

The Networker trains, which took seven years to develop, incorporate a novel feature in that they are able to return electricity to the track when they are braking.

With track improvements and other infrastructure work, they are part of an pounds 800m investment on the Kent Link. But the project manager, Jim Vine, said some of this had not yet been made available, including pounds 80m which is essential to speed up the service.

The trains, seen at the launch by John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport, are capable of fast acceleration which, because the stations are close together on the line, is essential to reduce journey times.

However, there is no money available for the required pounds 24m investment in the power supply to increase it from 5,500 amps to 8,100 amps. So the new trains have been 'tuned down', reducing their potential acceleration from 1.7mph per second to 1.1mph per second.

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