Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has struck a deal worth over £200m to finance its replacement suburban train fleet on the Great Northern route, which is the first for new rolling stock company Rock Rail, with equity provided by SL Capital (part of Standard Life Investments) and debt from Aviva Investors.
The 25 climate-controlled six-carriage units (150 vehicles), to be built by Siemens, will enter service by the end of 2018 and replace Class 313 trains built in 1976/7, which are the oldest type of electric train in operation in mainland Britain.
GTR Chief Executive Officer Charles Horton, said:
“We are delighted to have secured the financing for this new fleet which will give our passengers on Great Northern’s suburban routes a modern, high-quality environment which is light years ahead of what we have been able to offer to date with the current 40-year-old stock.
And when we bring the Moorgate trains online we’ll also increase the frequency of services considerably in the off-peak and at weekends and even, to a lesser degree, in the morning and evening peaks.
The trains make up just one of three major fleets we are introducing which will steadily improve services and drive up passenger satisfaction.”
Mark Swindell, founding partner of Rock Rail, said:
“For the past two years we have been developing a new approach to funding rolling stock in the UK which offers financial institutions the opportunity to invest directly in core rail assets on a basis that generates better value for the tax payer and passenger alike.
We are delighted to be working with our partners SL Capital and Aviva, together with GTR and Siemens, on our first investment and now look forward to delivering these trains to this key part of London’s rail network.”
Dominic Helmsley, Managing Director of SL Capital infrastructure, said:
“SL Capital is delighted to be the exclusive equity investor in this exciting project that offers train operators an innovative new financing solution for funding rolling stock projects. The partnership alongside Rock Rail and Aviva demonstrates our confidence in Govia as an operator and our commitment to the improvement of the UK transport network over the long term.”
Mark Versey, Chief Investment Officer, Global Investment Solutions at Aviva Investors, said:
“This project is a good example of Aviva Investors’ long-standing commitment to UK infrastructure and represents a ground-breaking new solution to the financing of trains in the UK. This investment required a pragmatic approach to structuring, particularly around refranchising risk and represents the high degree of confidence we have in the growth of the UK rail industry.
We are delighted to be involved with all of our partners on this project, which will improve the quality of trains on the Moorgate line, as well as give our clients access to a stable source of risk-adjusted returns.”
Steve Scrimshaw, Managing Director for Siemens Rail Systems, said:
“Siemens is delighted to build the new suburban train fleet for the Great Northern route on the Thameslink franchise. This order – the third for our innovative and flexible Desiro City train platform, will provide passengers with a much improved passenger experience and a step change in capacity and reliability. It will in addition benefit a number of our established suppliers across the UK supply chain by creating added value and jobs across the UK.”