In August, freight rose 6.7% year-on-year to 337 million tonnes.
Overall, China’s economy recorded 6.1% growth in the first half of the year.
As well as air-conditioning, Wi-Fi and power points, the new trains, built by Siemens with finance from Rock Rail Moorgate, a joint venture between Rock Rail Holdings and Aberdeen Standard Investments, will provide a 27% increase in capacity to address the near-doubling of passenger numbers on GTR’s services over the past 14 years.
The 717s are based on the Siemens class 700s already in service, but are equipped with an emergency door in the cab to enable evacuation in the Moorgate branch tunnel in London. The new fleet will operate between Moorgate and Stevenage, Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City.
The trains will be maintained at GTR’s Hornsey depot, which is being upgraded and expanded to service the class 700s and 717s.
“The trains will all be the maximum length for this route and feature air-conditioning as well as power points, Wi-Fi and real-time passenger information screens to make travelling with Great Northern a much more comfortable and convenient experience,” says GTR director of engineering, Mr Gerry McFadden. “Wide doors and spacious interiors will help address the huge increase in passenger numbers into Moorgate, and also help passengers board and alight promptly, helping us keep trains running on time.”