Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Can you put five into twelve?

Posted in London, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 9 April 2010

An article in the most recent issue of Today’s Railways has got me thinking. Network Rail have just published the Kent RUS, one of the last of their Route Utilisation Strategy documents intended to show what improvements to the infrastructure and service are planned for specific areas of the network. One of the major elements of the Kent RUS is the extension of some of Southeastern’s services, mainly the high frequency metro trains to 12-car operation – this is seen as the preferred option to increase capacity, as running more trains would require significantly greater investment in improving the infrastructure, as would the option of operating double-decker trains (except on High Speed 1). Now, as you may know, the majority of Southeastern’s fleet is made up of units that can be formed fairly easily into 12-car trains – the Class 395 Javelin units used on the highspeed services are all 6-car, while the Class 465 and 466 Networker trains that predominate the metro services are respectively 4-car and 2-car. All but 10 of the Class 375 Electrostar units that form the backbone of the mainline fleet are also 4-car, with the remaining ten all 3-car. But, Southeastern also operate the 5-car Class 376 Electrostar. This then presents something of a problem, as the operator will have a fleet of 36 trains that will be incompatible with its operations come the introduction of the RUS proposals. Cue me with pen, paper and calculator. Using the proposal floated by Porterbrook in regards to using the Class 460 units, I’ve worked out that reforming the 5-car Class 376s into 4-car units would provide you with 27 x 4-car trains, with 18 driving cars left over, which could then be formed into 9 x 2-car units. This would then fit in nicely with the existing Networker fleet, and would allow the 12-car trains specified. Of course, what would be even easier, given that Bombardier has been filling significant Electrostar and Turbostar orders recently, would be for an extra 36 vehicles to be ordered for Southeastern to allow them to lengthen the Class 376s to 6-car units. After all, Transport for London is already in the process of doing this to extend the Class 378s in use on the North London Line. But then TfL is not beholden to the government for ordering its rolling stock, unlike the TOCs. As we’ve seen from the DfT’s refusal to purchase the additional 42 vehicles for Virgin’s Class 390 Pendolino trains, getting them to cough up for anything right now is almost literally like getting blood from something that doesn’t have blood in it. The hope is that, assuming there is a change of government, the DfT will release its stranglehold on rolling stock procurement and allow the TOCs to get on with it. We’ll see.  

The 5-car Class 376 - how will it fit in a 12-car world?


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  1. […] car trains on Southeastern I’ve spoken before about the potential difficulty that Southeastern may have concerning its fleet of 36 Class […]

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