Southern rail set to scrap 46 Metro trains – which could then cost Southeastern

Southern are to retire a large fleet of trains serving metro routes next month – which may see a substantial number of carriages in use with Southeastern moved to plug the gap.

Class 455s have been the backbone of Southern Metro for decades and are now set to be removed in their entirety at short notice.

A mixture of service cuts, shorter trains and truncated routes are expected to somewhat cover the shortfall.

One such example is the Croydon to Milton Keynes service truncated to Watford, alongside other services removed or reduced serving numerous areas of south London.

The Treasury’s demand for substantial rail cuts – in turn pushed by the Department for Transport – lies behind the move.

Cuts will hit inner London and attempts to be a blow to those seeking to encourage public transport usage in areas of high traffic congestion.

More Networkers may leave metro routes for mid to long distance services again

Alongside service cuts, Southern may attempt to mitigate losses by pushing for 25 Class 377 and 375 trains sub-leased to Southeastern to be returned.

That still sees a reduction in overall Southern rolling stock with a net reduction of 21 trains, and also leaves Southeastern with fewer trains than now.

Around 20 Networker trains are currently parked up in sidings awaiting scrap. One idea was to remove around the same number of carriages as provided by Class 707 City Beam trains. There’s 30 of those, and each are five-car, so around 150 Networker carriages would go with 150 City beams coming in.

It could well be that the remaining Networkers due to leave for scrap will now stay. That however doesn’t plug the gap of losing 25 trains.

It also causes other issues, as Networkers lack Selective Door Operation to serve platforms shorter than the train, and that will necessitate shorter trains being used on some routes currently serviced by trains that are able to use SDO.

Many networkers look very tired

Then there’s the issue of comfort. Many Networkers are grotty and tired. not great places to be for an hour or 90 minutes.

Demand

Of course all of this may be fine if demand stays low, though recently passenger numbers returned to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

True, it’s the peaks where the real squeeze often is and overall numbers mean little if they’re now staggered throughout the day.

The issue is in part whether numerous new builds near stations cause spikes alongside a slow increase in commuters.

Towers surround Kidbrooke station. Many now rising

Kidbrooke is one example of thousands of homes being built within 5-10 minutes walk of the station. Over 300 more were approved last night.

A vast development on the Southern network is New Bermondsey. Thousands of homes have been approved directly next to South Bermondsey station, as well as many more nearby.

Phase 1 towers approved

Will Southern services and rolling stock be up to the required level to serve thousands of new homes? There is also due to be a new London Overground station built to serve the development, though the Treasury also seek heavy cuts to TfL.

Once trains are gone and being cut up for scrap, it’ll be tricky to magic up dozens of stock to meet any increase in demand.

The short to mid term spectre of fewer services, shorter trains and a railway network that doesn’t see investment may please the Treasury, but can London with growing population and congestion bear that?

It’s certainly not good for wider business for ever-more gridlocked roads, let alone health aspects.

Main image courtesy Huge Llewelyn under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) 

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John 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.

7 thoughts on “Southern rail set to scrap 46 Metro trains – which could then cost Southeastern

  • April 6, 2022 at 9:15 pm
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    I very much doubt the sub-lease of the Citybeam trains will allow them to be returned to Southern anytime soon without Southern having to pay king’s ransom.

    Reply
    • April 6, 2022 at 9:18 pm
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      Citybeam wouldn’t transfer but 25x Class 375 and 377 used in mid/long distance services with Networkers’ on Metro routes plugging the gap.

      Probably all doable in the near term. How long the Treasury string that out is the question…

      Reply
  • April 7, 2022 at 9:17 am
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    Maybe we could afford more railway carriages if the Chancellor’s wife paid taxes in the UK like us mere ordinary people. Hash-tag one rule for them, another for the rest of us.

    Reply
  • April 11, 2022 at 9:02 am
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    Looks as if Southern is moving from very old trains to just old trains. Still almost anything would be an improvement over the class 455. No amount of refurbishment will revive that clapped out rolling stock.

    Reply
  • April 13, 2022 at 7:36 pm
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    All of the City Beam units are now with Southeastern. 2 of the Class 377 units are moving to Southern who are withdrawing all of the Class 455 and 456 trains.

    Reply
  • April 18, 2022 at 12:30 am
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    Wrong. There are 18 with Southeastern out of the 30 they have. The other 12 are still currently with SWR

    Reply

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