First Capital Connect

First Capital Connect

Infobox Rail companies
bgcolor = FFFFFF
logo_filename = First capital connect logo.png image_filename = FirstCapitalConnect Unit365505.jpg‎
widthpx = 300px
franchise = Thameslink/Great Northern
1 April 2006 – 2015
nameforarea = station
regions = Kings Cross, Stevenage, Peterborough, Cambridge, St Pancras, Luton, Bedford, Kings Lynn, Brighton

secregions = Luton Airport, St Albans, Harpenden, West Hampstead Thameslink, Blackfriars, London Bridge, Moorgate, Gatwick Airport, Wimbledon, Sutton,
Elstree & Borehamwood, Finsbury Park, Welwyn Garden City, Hitchin, Biggleswade,
St. Neots, Huntingdon,
Letchworth, Royston, Ely
fleet = 41 Class 313 sets
12 Class 317 sets
74 Class 319 sets
40 Class 365 "Networker Express"
stations=approx. 90
parent_company=First Group

First Capital Connect (FCC) is a passenger train operating company in England that began operations on the National Rail network on 1 April 2006. It is owned by First Group and combines the service on the cross-London Thameslink railway line between Brighton and Bedford with services along the East Coast Main Line from King's Cross and Moorgate to Peterborough, Cambridge, and King's Lynn formerly operated by WAGN, often referred to as Great Northern. First Group is in the process of overhauling the trains [cite web| url=| author=FCC| title=We're Improving] with new liveries and refreshed interiors as well as an £8 million programme of upgrades for several major stations. [cite web| url=| author=RailStaff| year=2006-04-06| title=First Capital Connect links London| accessdate=2006-04-10] The full term of the franchise is for nine years until 2015, but this depends on meeting performance targets at the end of the fourth year, which will give an automatic two-year extension, and an extension for up to three years after the sixth year at the discretion of the DfT. [cite web| url=| author=DfT| year=2005-12-13| title=DfT announces winner of Greater Western and Thameslink/GN franchises| accessdate=2007-07-24]

The Thameslink and WAGN franchises were amalgamated in preparation for the Thameslink Programme (formerly Thameslink 2000), which will increase capacity on the Thameslink route and allow trains from King's Lynn, Cambridge and Peterborough to run via Thameslink. On 24 July 2007 the Secretary of State for Transport, Ruth Kelly, formally announced that the Government was fully committed to funding the Thameslink Programme. Since the planning permission and legal powers associated with the project have already been granted, the project is now clear to proceed [cite web| url=| author=Network Rail| year=2006-10-18| title=THE £3.5BN THAMESLINK PROJECT CLEARS MAJOR HURDLE| accessdate=2006-11-10] .


In the early part of 2007 FCC conducted a study and undertook consultation on options for increasing the capacity of services to Peterborough and Cambridge. The final recommendations involve lengthening four peak services from 8 to 12 carriages from May 2009, and adding or removing a small number of stops to balance loads between trainscite web
author=First Capital Connect
title=Cambridge Capacity Study
] cite web
author=First Capital Connect
title=Changes to Capacity Study Timetable Following Consultation
] .1,779 more seats will be provided during the morning peak and 2,490 during the evening peak.

On 19 June 2008 FCC started testing a Class 377 Electrostar train in anticipation of the introduction of 23 x 4-car units on the Bedford to Brighton route in March next year. The Electrostar train has started non-passenger operation for driver training, signal testing, gauge clearance, platform staff training and validating on-board passenger information. Other technical on-board and track tests are also taking place. The trains are part of the £5.5 billion Thameslink improvement programme.

In 2008, First Capital Connect opened two new training facilities. In Kentish Town, a derelict station building was converted into new training rooms to deliver induction, customer service and revenue protection training to new recruits. It will also offer management development programmes and safety specific training to First Capital Connect’s 2,150 staff. The centre will be able to run in-house BTEC & NVQ programmes. In Hornsey, Sir Moir Lockhead, Chief Executive of FirstGroup officially opened the Performance and Training Academy, and Simulator Centre. First Capital Connect invested £1.2m in the Academy that will be used to teach the new drivers required for the Thameslink Programme and help support the company's existing team of approximately 700 drivers. The Simulator Centre includes a 319 train simulator replicating the train on the Bedford to Brighton route, and the second, a 365 train simulator as seen on the Great Northern route.


The latest performance figures for FCC covering the four week period from 17 August to 13 September 2008 were the best performance figures in the franchise history. Public Performance Measurement (PPM) reached 93.94% which is the highest level achieved in the two-and-a-half years of the First Capital Connect franchise and for the previous eight years of operating. Only 1.39% of services were cancelled in the period, beating the previous low of 1.72% that was reached in March 2008.

The Moving Annual Average (MAA) now stands at 91.4% above the national average of 90.4%. PPM is often measured in this way as the year progresses to account for seasonality when reviewing trends. The FCC PPM for 20 out of the last 21 periods have been over 90%. GN Route - four out of the last five periods have had a PPM >96%. TL Route - six out of the last nine periods have had a PPM over 90%.

This network has instructed its staff to impose penalty fares of £20 even if you have a £9.40 ticket and the excess is 50p. There are no laws to protect you, the appeals system is a waste of a stamp. Customer Service simply quotes 'travelling without a valid ticket'. The Magna Carter, Ch. 29 does not apply to this railway network. Some networks do offer excess fares facilities, this one, in this case and most others, does not.

All stations in one day

On 25th September 2008 a team of four set out to visit all 105 First Capital Connect railway stations in less than 24 hours for charity. Ben Huxley, Lucy Dawson, Steve Everett, and Matt Streeton started their journey at Letchworth Garden City and took the 06:16 service via Cambridge to Kings Lynn before heading to London. On completing the 52 stations on the Great Northern route the team tackled the Thameslink (TL) route which connects Brighton to Bedford including services around the Wimbledon Loop in South London.The team arrived back at home some 16 hours later at 22:21 having completed the journey. They travelled through seven counties including Herts, Norfolk and Sussex and covered approximately 500 miles (as the crow flies) for charity.

Rolling stock

Current fleet

FCC is the only FirstGroup TOC that uses only electric trains.

to the south.

In addition to its EMU fleet FCC owns the sole surviving mainline-registered Class 03, 03179 "Clive".

Future fleet

An additional eight Class 319 trains will be transferred from Southern by December 2008 to expand capacity on the Thameslink route.cite web
author=Department for Transport
title=More trains arriving on busy rail routes
] Southern are also in the process of procuring 23 new dual voltage Class 377 units, 12 of which will be transferred to FCC on delivery to further enhance the Thameslink services. [ [ Rolling Stock Plan - Indicative Number of Additional Vehicles required by English TOCs by 2014] ] FCC will also take on five Class 321 units (cascaded from London Midland) in May 2009, with the possibility of an additional five 321s coming over to FCC later on in 2009. These units will enhance the Peterborough - London King's Cross services, thus allowing more Class 365 units to be available for the King's Lynn - Cambridge - London King's Cross services. Some Class 313 units from London Overground will move to the Great Northern route for Inner Suburban services from London King's Cross/Moorgate - Welwyn Garden City/Hertford North/Letchworth Garden City.

Separate from the government's rolling stock plan is the procurement of new rolling stock for use on the expanded Thameslink route, which will replace the current Class 319 units. 1100 vehicles dual voltage EMUs likely to be delivered in units of four will be purchased, operating in trains of up to 12 cars. The new stock is due to enter service from 2012. [cite web
author=Department for Transport
title=14,500 extra seats for Thameslink passengers


Under privatisation, Thameslink went about refurbishing its units. The Class 319/1s were rebuilt by Railcare Wolverton into the Class 319/3s, which included removing First Class accommodation. These units are used on Thameslink CityMetro services from Luton/St Albans to Wimbledon around the Sutton loop. These units are numbered 319361-319386.

The Class 319/0s it owned were rebuilt into Class 319/4s (with First Class accommodation added) for dedicated use on Thameslink Cityflier services from Bedford to Brighton, and were subsequently renumbered 319421-319460. Since then the fleet had undergone a minor refurbishment and Thameslink also initiated a programme of technical improvements. FCC has continued the refurbishment initiated by Thameslink, although it has altered the cosmestic features to its specifications.

WAGN and Thameslink trains are being repainted into FCC livery, a light-blue-to-dark blue shading with pink doors.


The Managing Director is Elaine Holt. Other directors include Andy Cope (Engineering), Hugh Clancy (Commercial), Karen Boswell (Customer Services), Belén Martinez (Projects), Michelle Smart (Human Resources) and Chris Cornthwaite (Finance).


The Managing Director is Elaine Holt. Other directors include Kieth Harding (Operations), Andy Cope (Engineering), Hugh Clancy (Commercial), Karen Boswell (Customer Services), Belén Martinez (Projects), Michelle Smart (Human Resources) and Chris Cornthwaite (Finance).

External links

* [ First Capital Connect web site]
* [ BBC News article on Takeover]
* [ Thameslink Programme website]
* [ Network Rail's Thameslink Programme]

s-ttl|rows=2|title=Operator of Thameslink/Great Northern franchise
years=2006 — present


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