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Southeastern metro services could get more 12-car trains by end of year

Frequently overcrowded services on Southeastern’s metro network could be alleviated by the end of this year with the introduction of extra 12-car trains, rail minister Claire Perry MP has announced.

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Perry said she is determined to review the business case of running extra 12-car trains “on the metro service in particular”, with a view to introduce these trains by the end of the year.

She promised to announce the government’s decision on this issue in the next couple of months.

“The intention is to complete the review very quickly and secure a final decision on the business case in the next couple of months, so that, if it makes sense, the extra capacity can be put on the metro services by the end of the year, with an additional slug of capacity to come in 2018,” said the minister.

“Southeastern has already added 95,000 seats to the network, although it is a bit like the M25: as soon as the seats are provided, people travel, because they feel that they can now get on to the trains. In some instances, we are running to stand still.

“Southeastern has also refreshed and improved its trains. I sometimes get on to a train and think, ‘this looks nice’, and then remember that it is a 40-year-old train that has been repainted. What we want are trains that look good, provide capacity, and have state-of-the-art toilets, and some of that has been achieved on this line.”

Responding to Bromley and Chislehurst MP Robert Neill’s request that Perry provide a specific timeframe and precise details of this, she said: “I shall be happy to do that, but I want to ensure that Southeastern gets the best possible deal for those trains.

“They would be provided by a third-party rolling stock company, and I do not want to prejudice the negotiations. As I said, I want the trains with the additional carriages to run on the metro service, because there has been so much overcrowding.”

Teresa Pearce, MP for Erith and Thamesmead, argued that it would not be possible for 12-car trains to run on the Greenwich line because one of the stations “is very short and there is no alternative door-opening facility”.

Perry said she would be happy to look into options for fitting the necessary software to enable the right doors to open at the right station, commenting: “[You] probably find it as frustrating as I do that selective door opening works perfectly well in some parts of the country and not in others. There may well be very good operational reasons for the need for a software change. I will certainly look into the matter.”

Neill was responsible for bringing forth the issue to the House, a debate he claimed “should not be necessary”.

“A very high percentage of its working population travels up to London to earn its daily crust. They are dependent entirely on Southeastern trains,” he said. “We have no underground as an alternative. There is, in effect, a monopoly supply. People in Bromley and Chislehurst, as in other parts of south-east London, are being badly let down.”

Speaking to Bob Stewart, MP for Beckenham, Neill said the problems across the network were attributable to both Southeastern and Network Rail on a 70:30 split, with a lot of issues “down to Network Rail and signalling”, but mostly stemming from “real failures” with Southeastern’s “poor” customer service, timetable changes, punctuality and overcrowding.

Responding to Neill’s extensive claims, Perry said she did not “defend the current system in any way”, but attributed most of the issues on the network to lines being “neglected for many a long year”, with some trains running “over date from the 1930s” with no subsequent investment.

But she argued that 60% of the reason for Southeastern’s failure to meet performance standards last year was infrastructure-related, with just around 25% being linked to the operator itself. She promised to have a conversation with the rail industry on this subject “in the next few days”.

Delay repay and Transport for London takeover

The rail minister also claimed to be keen to reform the delay repay scheme, which still has room to “go further” despite being “among the most generous in Europe”.

“As the chancellor said in his Autumn Statement, we want to take the time at which the clock starts ticking from 30 minutes to 15 minutes, which will start to address some of [Tom Tughendhat, Tonbridge and Malling MP’s] constituency problems. I expect to make announcements on that shortly. We are gearing up to reform that and I will have further details on it.”

Perry also reminded those present that TfL’s London Overground could take over some Southeastern metro services when its franchise expires in 2018 as part of new devolution proposals set out by the Department for Transport last week.

“This proposal could deliver more frequent services and more reliable trains. It would also move the decisions on stations and stopping patterns away from Horseferry Road—much as I have fantastic officials—and closer to the people who actually use the services,” she said.

“This will be similar to the devolution process that we have seen in relation to transport investment in the north, as well as the support for TfL. I urge all [MPs] who have an interest in these devolution proposals to stand up and ensure that their voices and those of their constituents and transport users are heard. The deadline is 18 March.”

More details about TfL’s metro network takeover were revealed by RTM in June last year.

(Top image c. mattbuck)


Pedr   29/01/2016 at 16:06

A 'slug of capacity' is an interesting concept - does it hit you from an air gun or slither slowly on slippery slime?

Andrew G   30/01/2016 at 22:20

I reckon that's the Class 319's that'll be used for Southeastern. That's why Southeastern are getting the remaining Class 319's to be used on certain routes along with Class 375's & Class 465's.

Nonsuchmike   02/02/2016 at 16:41

A slug is either a tot of spirits, a bullet, a mollusc or, as I learned when I did my degree and happened upon an american Physics text book it is the mass upon which a pound force (a poundal) exerts an acceleration of one foot per second squared. About 32 pounds (lb). Capacity is a volume and so its dimensions are purely [L] cubed. Therefore she was probably using the word slug in the drinking "shot" sense. Great to know how our Ministers and governors are thinking, n'est-ce pas?

Simon   03/02/2016 at 14:37

I assume that you cannot operate 12 car 319s due to platform lengths and SDO operations etc?

Martin Sims   08/02/2016 at 23:21

" 40 year old trains " what rubbish Perry is talking ! Networkers date from the 1990's , 319s from 1988 . MPs can get these facts from their "researchers"

Leyton   07/08/2016 at 10:50

how about ordering some 365 as they are to be replaced by the new 387's ands the new siemens 700's then you could probably couple them to some 465 to create a 12 car fleet

Gabriel   16/02/2017 at 14:56

You people saying that they will get class 319 they won't the rest of class 319 will go to another networker southeastern are getting class 377/5 all 29 of them they have already got 8 units from thameslink

Gabriel   16/02/2017 at 14:57

You people saying that they will get class 319 they won't the rest of class 319 will go to another networker southeastern are getting class 377/5 all 29 of them they have already got 8 units from thameslink

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