Southeastern to get “new” trains?

It’s heavily rumoured that an announcement on the future of Southeastern is expected soon which could include trains transferred in from South Western Railway.

An announcement is needed one way or another. The franchise was extended again to June with a permanent new franchise expected to be announced three months in advance. June is in just two months.

That means one of two options are now likely. The incumbent operator GoVia gets another short term extension or services are taken on directly by a Government owned company as happened to East Coast (and when Connex were forced out of operating South Eastern back in 2004).

London Bridge. New station yet very few 12 car services

Alongside a probable extension comes possible news of trains moving to the franchise. But could Southeastern lose some at the same time? It remains to be seen.

The trains the area could receive are Class 707s built between 2015 and 2018 for South West Trains. That franchise was then awarded to South Western Railway and the stock looked like going into storage. Which is crazy for trains just a year old. It must be noted again franchises do not own trains. They are leased, and the Government holds much sway on what goes where.

Given the political embarrassment of new trains heading to sidings it seems politically expedient to get them over to Southeastern. There’s 30 of them, yet Southeastern could possibly lose 36 Class 376 trains to Southern in coming years which if true would mean a net reduction in stock.

Class 376 train built around 2004

The franchise already faces losing carriages at the end of 2019 as branch line services operated by Class 466 stock are not compatible with disability laws. That means moving 8 carriages from mainline work to cover branches.

The new 707s will be welcome to those used to Southeastern’s old and poorly maintained stock. They have aircon and are nowhere near as tired internally. They’re also sister trains to those Thameslink use – though have less powerful traction motors.

What is less welcome is they’re only five carriages in length like the 376s, so coupling maxes out at 10 carriages and does not utilise 12 carriage platforms installed at many stations since 2010 at a cost of millions. Not a long term solution as things stand.

The future of Southeastern will be clearer soon – it has to be – yet whether that’s just for a year or two remains to be seen. And if these new trains do arrive will there still be any gain in capacity – and what of other improvements long hoped for such as fare parity with much of the rest of London and greater staffing numbers?

The image above is courtesy of Hugh Llewelyn under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)





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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.

7 thoughts on “Southeastern to get “new” trains?

  • 707’s:
    Plus points, new, air conditioning, excellent acceleration.
    Negative points, lack of seating (how many fewer than older stock?), really hard seats, no toilets.
    So if you want to stand up on a typical commute probably ideal. Don’t get stuck outside Lewisham.

    • The lack of toilets on the trains is a big issue especially with the long delays they can happen on these routes. As an example, on the DFD to CST via WWA and GNW there are only ABW (TfL managed), WWA, CNT, WCB and GNW that have facilities at the station. Even with those only ABW and WWA have accessible options.
      Part of the original idea of getting the 376s initially was to also increase the facilities available at the stations, I think in all this time only WWA has had any improvements with the other stations on the route suffering closers or restricted operating times of them.

      • Toilets at WWA also have very restricted opening hours and are often locked even when they are supposed to be operational.

    • Lavatories don’t mean a damn if you are on a train with passengers rammed in like sardines. My advice would be not to drink anything after lunchtime and make sure you use the loo before leaving work.

      I’ve travelled on the new South Western trains from Waterloo to Richmond and didn’t think the ride was at all uncomfortable. However, there is a lot of room for standing.

  • I was going to say that. Do not ride trains en route via Lewisham with poor traction if risk of ice-covered tracks / third rails

  • Can’t say I’m particularly thrilled about comfortable networkers being replaced by trains with ironing board seats (identical to Thameslink and Class 376) and no toilets.

    The leasing company should be asked to install toilets and replace all seating on 707s ahead of deployment. Failing that, when the permanent franchise is awarded I would hope the new operator orders new rolling stock or at the very least refurbs the seats on 376s and 707s.

  • I think that Southeastern should lose the Class 376s and to be cascaded to Southern to replace the Class 455 and Class 313 which will help with overcrowding.


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