Class 332s to become surplus when GWR operates Heathrow Express

HEATHROW Express Class 332 EMUs will become redundant as a result of a new 10-year agreement that guarantees the future of the fast airport service until at least 2028, with GWR running the operation under a management contract.

The current Heathrow Express (HEX) operation and the 14 train sets are owned by Heathrow Express Operating Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Heathrow Airport Holdings.

They may be 20 years old, but with no TPWS equipment, the future is bleak for the fleet of 14 high-quality four-and five-Class 332 Heathrow Express EMUs built by CAF and Siemens, with all due to be withdrawn by December 2019. On April 19, running as a single set, No. 332011 waits to depart London Paddington with the 14.45 to London Heathrow. CHRIS MILNER

Services run under open access rules.

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However, from August 2018, HEX staff will transfer under a TUPE agreement (Transfer of Undertakings [Protection of Employment] Regulations) to GWR, which will operate the non-stop express trains under contract. Ownership of the services, along with responsibility for the operation’s commercial aspects – marketing, ticket pricing and revenue – will remain with Heathrow Airport.

GWR has said a number of the recently introduced Class 387
EMUs will be fully refitted internally to suit the airport service with revised seating, high speed wi-fi, on-board entertainment and greater luggage space. A new sub-class is likely to be created. To replace the 387s, tri-mode Class 769 (ex-319) EMUs will be introduced from spring next year (see this page).

This decision suggests that as the ‘332s’ are only fitted with Automatic Train Protection, and without TPWS (for which they have a derogation), they are incompatible for use elsewhere on the network, and scrapping is a likely option.

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