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.
Support for the site in covering local news and issues is much appreciated. Donations can be made at Patreon.com/themurkydepths