Southeastern trains are being refurbished. No, really.

In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it development Southeastern’s Networker trains are currently undergoing internal refurbishment. The work mainly consists of disabled loos being installed before a 2020 deadline for accessibility.

The Networkers are the stalwart of Southeastern’s suburban fleet. The first ones rolled off the production line 25 years ago. Most trains see a comprehensive refurbishment at around 15-20 years in service. The Networkers have barely had a deep clean in that time.

This work doesn’t really change that. Not much other work hasn’t been carried out. It’s a bare budget job. More than one “refurbished” carriage I’ve been on has seen bubbles in the flooring:

So we have have seen work to improve toilets for the disabled whilst leaving bubbles in flooring intact which will catch out the partially sighted.

Seats are ripped and tattered.

The usual scuffs are ever present:

And generally they just look very tired and drab. Ambience and feel matters. If carriages look welcoming, clean and well-maintained then people are attracted to using public transport.

Southeastern can’t really be blamed for not funding extensive upgrades.  Firstly they don’t even own the stock and lease them from companies Angel Trains and Evershot.

Don’t hate the player, hate the game

No private company will spend large money on refurbishing stock without being able to see returns on that investment. And the Department of Transport hasn’t ensured private companies can plan with certainty due to franchising mistakes.

This has resulted in continual short-term franchise extensions on numerous occasions. This work is only happening as the 2020 law change is approaching and the DfT ordered it when awarding another short-term extension.

Even then, the DfT may decide all the trains will be scrapped from 2019.

A public company may well take a different view. TfL spend money sprucing up trains even with a short shelf life to entice travellers and change behaviour. That should then continue when new trains arrive. Southeastern don’t know if they’ll be running it in a little over a year so mid-term planning is out, let alone long-term.

Welcome to the privatised franchised railway as it stands.

That’ll be an above inflation fare increase next January please, even when already paying more than most of London does for similar journeys.

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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

10 thoughts on “Southeastern trains are being refurbished. No, really.

  • I think you mean ‘partially sighted’.

  • You got my hopes up there for a second. I’ve been “enjoying” these bare-bones Networker refurbishments on my commute for the past few weeks. To be honest it’s very difficult to tell the difference in terms of overall quality. One positive, though, is that the seating in the middle part of the carriages has been reconfigured, replacing some of the face-to-face seating with more facing-forward seating. This allows them to cram a few more seats into each carriage. Legroom is a bit of an issue, though.

    It’s still a poor showing from Southeastern. Almost all of the other TOCs in south London have better quality interiors in their rolling stock. I know that we can’t expect the gleaming loveliness of Southwestern’s Desiro fleet everywhere, but just bringing the Networkers in line with the Electrostars in terms of quality would be a big help.

  • The owners of the brand new Class 707 Desiros will be looking for a new home for them now that South Western Railway will be replacing them within two years. I wouldn’t be too upset if they came to the Greenwich line. 🙂

    • I can see it happening. Makes sense if reformed from 5 carriages too as 5/10 car trains on a 12 car railway is short sighted. Thameslink trains will be running on the line by May 2018 and they are sister trains (diff TOCs of course)

    • That’s interesting. I was going to suggest cascading the old Networkers to elsewhere in the country – somewhere with much older EMUs which could benefit from a partial upgrade. But after a casual search, most older EMUs have had their interiors refreshed much more recently and look *better* than the Networkers in their current state! Southern’s Class 313s date from 1976 – they’re the oldest EMUs still running – and their interiors are brightly-lit and much more welcoming.

  • So DaFt wants to scrap a fleet of mid age networkers that are all to have this DDA treatment? Why is it that DAFT and TOCS have this big fetish over replacing trains that hasn’t even reached 30 years old or 20 years? Seriously if the train still runs but has a drab interior, improve it instead of throwing away money for a new train to replace the current when it probably won’t even last 10 years.

  • The Networkers with a little bit of work inside and a brighter livery outside would make them look much better! The design of the trains have aged well and they still look pretty modern compared to older trains like 455’s, The next company to take over needs to brighten them up because they are really not passed there sell-by date!

  • I wondered whether the refurbed trains have more seats. Does anyone know?

  • What has happened to the Electrostar 376s? I rarely get on one these days. Honestly, we have possibly the highest fares in Europe yet have to travel on dirty, down at heel rolling stock and stand for most of the journey.

    • They’re still being used. I caught one yesterday evening from Woolwich Arsenal to Cannon St


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