New Southeastern trains see internal investment despite being just 3 years old – while older trains neglected

With Southeastern’s “new” trains coming over from South Western Railway and due to begin running in service from September, the company have released a video of work being undertaken and money spent altering the inside of the stock, despite the trains being just three years old and still in excellent condition.

Southeastern are replacing all seats inside from red to blue. One does wonder is any passenger will care what colour the seats are – particularly when the rest of the fleet serving suburban routes are in such poor shape.

Tatty and starved of investment. Broken seats and embedded dirt in grill

Walk through the bulk of the Networker fleet on any given day and you’ll see how neglected many appear.

Bubbling floors

Seats are often falling off and ripped on the older Class 465 Networker trains.

Broken seats are very common

These trains are nearing 30 years old and look it. Trip hazards from bubbling flooring is often seen.

Yet money is being spent on altering the interior of a train barely three years old.

Red seats out. Blue seats in

There’s also the issue of choosing a corporate colour (from red to Southeastern blue) when the franchise system is dead. What’s the point if standardised colours are introduced in the near future – as is starting to happen with station signage?

On the Networkers floors are still bulging even after repair work and a light refresh in recent years:

Bulging floors and dirty fittings shortly after work undertaken

Temporary fixes abound on interiors:

Short term fixes seen

The general feel is one of grime, dirt and a lack of care and attention. Not always a pleasant place to be.

I expect the same reason not to carry out even regular deep cleans is the same heard for at least a decade; they’ll go soon. But will they?

And then there’s the newer Class 376s. Now getting on for 17 years old, and another fleet that’s never seen a substantial interior refresh.

Class 376

These don’t look as neglected as Networkers though the seats are getting pretty threadbare.

With the railway attempting to attract back passengers, improved interior ambience is a key factor especially for leisure passengers. So why spend money to upgrade trains already in good condition, yet leave many in poor state as they are?

PR and press releases are perhaps one reason. Yet everyday passengers – or even occasional leisure travellers – won’t be fooled. Most of the fleet needs investment – and it isn’t the new trains vastly outnumbered by the older stock.



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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.

    10 thoughts on “New Southeastern trains see internal investment despite being just 3 years old – while older trains neglected

    • Agreed, looks ridiculous, but it is perhaps as simple as Angel trains paying for the seat cover replacement as part of the deal with Southeaster so that they avoid their fleet being off lease? I doubt though that none of the cost would be paid by Southeastern through the rent…

      Quite a non sense but it might be that the work was ordered way before the franchise system changes were announced!

    • Yep agreed the leasing company will be playing a key role.

      It does highlight the silliness of the old franchise system, where some trains get no TLC for many years and new ones get the funding.

      It reminds me a bit of painting stations after a franchise win when other areas need investment.

      Let’s see what the new Great British Rail does to change it.

    • Southeastern are re-branding to reflect the colour scheme they use so it is consistent with us passengers and avoids confusion. What you’re arguing is the equivalent of Sainsbury’s buying a supermarket location from Asda and keeping the fittings green… wouldn’t happen regardless of how old or young the shop is. It’s just a standard procedure when acquiring anything second hand.

      • It’s a pretty dim view of the public if red seats will confuse them on a line that hasn’t changed service patterns. People can handle Thameslink.

        A public transport service isn’t really the same as a supermarket.

        Supermarkets do not let allow older assets to get into poor shape for customers as they don’t operate a franchise on a rolling, short term contract from a higher body as rail has with the DfT.

    • Changing the livery and not the interior would look odd in my opinion and in the scheme of things, is probably not a great deal of money.

    • The crazy thing with the end of a franchise was that stations had to be returned to colours from when the franchise started before being repainted into new colours of the new franchise.

      Some years ago I managed a team of painters at Nottingham station where a lot of the wood was rotten. We were told to just slap on the paint. We also had to paint a footbridge that was about to be removed and replaced with a new bridge for a tram extension.

    • Though that’s money that can never be found to keep the mainstay of the fleet in half decent condition…

    • I thought the Networker 465 trains are all being scrapped?

      If so, what is the point of spending any money on them if they are going by the end of the year?

      Also, Southeastern wasn’t sure and probably still isn’t sure whether they will continue running the franchise especially after the fiasco of the last bidding attempt which was cancelled.

      So rightly so I wouldn’t spend any money on my trains if I was going to lose the franchise.

      Would you spend money sprucing up your home which you rent from someone else knowing that you will be moving out 3 months?

      So that’s exactly why Southeastern isn’t spending any money on them.

      Be assured Govia or Go-ahead without the help of Keolis, I’m sure they will run majority of trains in this country if the government scraps all franchises. To be fair they aren’t a bad company, well not as bad as Arriva anyway.

    • There was a repainted South Western stock at New Cross station today. There is a lot less white than on the old Networker and it looks very smart. I had an excellent opportunity to take a little vid from the footbridge but fluffed it. 😟

      By the way, the Networker stock that I took home from New Cross was actually clean with not much sign of wear.

    • It’s quite normal for stock to remain in the colour of its previous operator until it’s due a refurb. Yet these have been repainted outside as well. I would suggest it’s because trains ordered by SWT being obsolete before they came off the line running about in their livery is a very clear comment on the absurdity of the privatised structure in this particular case, and the DFT wants them to look as if SE – a very neglected operator – ordered them all along.


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