Southeastern will receive 30 Class 707 trains that are surplus to requirements at South West Railway.
This has long been rumoured and was covered on this site over a year ago.
The extra trains are similar to Thameslink stock and introduced from 2016 on South west Trains as it was then known. They are to be replaced on those services with newly built trains, yet replacement stock serving south west London is running late will not be in service for some time – so it will be a lengthy period until they can transfer to Southeastern. Mind you, it’s not an issue now or in coming months for obvious reasons.
The Class 707s were deemed surplus to requirements even before introduction on South West Railways due to issues such as a lack of grab handles in busy conditions and unsuitable door width for fast boarding and alighting. Southeastern metro is hardly less crowded.
In fact, under the most reason data for station usage in London many stations saw spectacular growth which isn’t surprising given new housing. Growth over just one year included:
- Deptford up 69 per cent
- Greenwich up 43 per cent
- Maze Hill up 52 per cent
- Westcombe Park up 35 per cent
- Woolwich Arsenal up 15 per cent
- Plumstead up 42 per cent
- Abbey Wood up 21 per cent
Some of this merely recovered passenger reductions during the London bridge rebuild but for many stations it’s a large net increase from 2015 levels.
The 707s do provide more capacity than Networkers due to reduced seating and offer similar capacity as Class 376s which also run on Southeastern Metro. There were however also rumours Southeastern would lose all their 376s to Southern which would mean no net increase in stock if that were to occur.
It’s one to keep an eye on. Given that space in sidings to store additional trains is extremely limited could this happen?
One issue with Class 707 trains is they are only five carriages in length as is the 376. That of course caps maximum lengths at 10 carriages and still doesn’t provide 12-car services. Network Rail spent millions extending platforms and upgrading power supplies across the Southeastern network in London around five years ago that are still barely utilised. It could be that trains are altered to four or six carriages in length to provide 12-car services.
If siding space could be found to accommodate both incoming stock and existing trains we could also see more 12-car Networker services on the Bexleyheath and Sidcup lines but not through Woolwich or Greenwich as Networkers lack Selective Door Opening to call at Woolwich Dockyard.
If I had to wager I’d suggest all Woolwich line trains would be 10-car 376 and 707s with more 12-car Networkers on Sidcup and Bexleyheath lines to serve areas of growth such as Kidbrooke and Lewisham.
So then, good news if Southeastern do not lose stock in the near future to compensate, but this is ultimately a short term sticking plaster for the franchise as the ability for widespread 12-carriage services on all lines and on trains serving all platforms at Charing Cross will still be limited.
Main image courtesy Hugh Llewelyn under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)