Southeastern’s Managing Director has today shown images of how refreshed Class 376 trains will appear.
Class 376 trains operate across the SE Metro network and are now up to 19 years old without ever having any refurbishment, hence a light refresh is planned for the next 20 years.
Unfortunately the one thing that would be nice to have across many months of the year even into October – air con – is NOT being added.
They were the very last trains ordered in the UK without it – and yet all sister trains built on the same Electrostar platform do have it.
This past few days has again seen pretty unpleasant journeys on the trains that to compensate – if we can use that work – have windows that barely open and no air vents unlike Networkers.
Full interior and exterior refresh funded by the vehicle owner. No money for air con (sorry) but they will look so much better! We are working through design and procurement now. Work will commence in 2024👇 pic.twitter.com/csq0F0wY9Q
— Steve White (@SteveWhiteRail) October 10, 2023
So that’s 20 years more sweating in an overheated carriage for months on end each year for you dear traveller. Costs too much is the reason. Of course.
We are of course in a time when the government – who wholly control Southeastern – do not want to fund improvements in rail.
The Treasury and Department for Transport still can’t grasp that a nicer travelling environment attracts more custom and thus revenue.
See also the threadbare staffing evident every single day now across Southeastern as staff aren’t replaced when they leave. Today it was 60 stations lacking staffing above and beyond normal low levels.
That was a good day. Last week it reached nearly 90 stations with staff absent.
Staffing to help passengers? To aid safety? Who needs that?
With only 30 Class 376’s in service, the Networker (Class 465 and 466) remain the bulk of the Metro fleet at 31 years old. There’s around 130 of them plugging away each day. Most have never had a proper refurbishment since built in the early 1990s.
There’s no confirmed replacement. Even if there was, new stock is year’s away (2027 is mooted). And because of that possible order – which isn’t confirmed – no money is spent on the decrepit existing stock.
Most are in a real state with years of embedded grime in various places that’s apparently never cleaned (the radiators are disgusting) and bubbling floors that must contravene some rules for the partially sighted with broken seats a-plenty.
This isn’t a rail company or service in good shape.
I’ve used just about every rail company in London over the past year – and many beyond the capital – and none are this bad.
Some of the Networkers (the class 465/9s with a far more pleasant interior) did however see an upgrade over 10 years ago and it’s telling that despite that they’re still so much nice inside than most.
Southeastern’s bulk Metro fleet though has been a neglected state for many, many years under GoVia then under direct Department for Transport control.
It appears they havn’t had any sort of cleaning beyond a slight wipe in many years.
None of this really points to any long term strategy to entice passengers to Metro services (and let’s ignore very poor timetables that now exist with the longest service gaps for at least 50 years at places like Abbey Wood despite potential connections with the Elizabeth line) and so revenue will lag while congestion on roads gets ever worse.
It’s such a massive shame. The Southeastern Metro network has huge potential to capture potential passenger growth and embrace substantial population growth from new housing. A good network would be transformational.
But this government have no idea or apparent desire for that. A light refresh of a minority of the overall stock that doesn’t even include obvious wins to entice passengers while simultaneously leaving the bulk of the fleet in an utter state is short-term penny pinching, and yet all too typical.