Welcome to the second post looking at changes to look forward to in 2024 and this time it’s refurbished Class 376 trains on Southeastern Metro.
Yes, they were due to start undergoing the revamp in 2023 but things have slipped. Now it’s this year – surely?
The 36-strong fleet of trains are now nearing 20 years old without refurbishment since being order by Connex back in those early post-privatisation days of the early 2000s.
They’re certainly a bit tired and we can expect a blue paint job matching the City Beam trains that transferred over from South Western Railway. Blue basically.
But is there anything a bit more substantive than a paint job you may ask, and well, not really. There will be no toilets installed nor any air conditioning.
These trains were the very last to be ordered in the UK without air con and that appears to be the way they’ll live out the next 20 years of their life.
The Department for Transport who own Southeastern won’t pay and nor will the trains owners Eversholt Rail. Southeastern merely lease them. Many think rail companies own their trains. Not since privatisation.
And unlike your average Joe who can lease another motor every three years, rail companies are pretty much locked into paying leases for decades. Improvements generally only come if Government approve/guarantee in the convoluted UK rail network we now have.
So what is coming? New seat covers, a bit of a deep clean and possibly plug sockets/chargers though even that now doesn’t seem definite.
This certainly seems a refurb under a rail service owned by a government determined on cuts.
I often hear people giving the Class 376 criticism though for me they’ve always been decent enough stock except for the lack of toilets and air con which won’t be coming anyway.
Sure they’re tatty, but even then the bulk of the Networker fleet is much worse with their bubbling floors and often filthy condition.
Much will depend on how far you travel I suppose, though a 30 minute journey from Abbey Wood to central London is often better on these than a Networker’s dreaded three-seat bays (and my BMI is good thank you very much).
Much space to stand too for those on shorter trips. When I lived nearer to London Bridge I welcomed these pulling in rather than a Networker.
The 376 fleet are a bodge anyway as they max out at 10-cars on a network that can take 12-car (albeit with selective door operation). It was short termism/being cheap back in the early 2000s that saw these arrive in the first place.
There’s also only 36 of them which is a pretty small sized fleet and Southeastern Metro – being the awkward child – now has two small fleets with 36 of these and 30 Class 707 City Beams alongside 140-odd Networkers.
Will a new lick of paint and seat covers achieve much? Well, it’s an improvement at least in the short term. Then again even the City Beam’s are now starting to look tired on the funding-starved Metro routes after a year or two.
Will the 376s- and 707 City Beams for that matter – look decent in 2025-2030 or descend into the mess others have descended to?
That all depends on whoever runs them giving having adequate funding. Not something Southeastern Metro has seen for a long, long time. Decades in fact under governments of all colours be it red, blue or yellow.