Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

It’s S(Stock)super!!

Posted in London, Metro, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 28 January 2012

I made my first, albeit brief, journey on an S Stock train this week, and will say that I was actually fairly impressed. Admittedly I only went from Kings Cross St Pancras to Liverpool Street, and it wasn’t a time of day that meant the train would have been exceptionally busy. But even so, I was pleasantly surprised both by the lovely squishy nature of the seat, which I wasn’t expecting, and the good quality of the ride (which in fairness one should really expect). I actually ended up thinking to myself “Bombardier could be onto a winner here”. This thought was not so obvious as you might think, given that the S Stock is from Bombardier’s Movia product range, as is the 2009 Stock, which I have to say I dislike in the extreme; to say I miss the 1967 Stock is an understatement. How it’s possible to have two broadly similar types that are of such varying quality is difficult to understand. It is admittedly difficult to ascertain just how reliable the S Stock trains are at present, owing to a number of factors:

  • They are currently only in use on the Metropolitan Line, which has a number of central termini and operates for large parts of its route with up to four running lines (for stopping and fast services), that allow more scope for diversions in the event of a train failure
  • The entire fleet is not yet in service, with A60/62 Stock units to continue in service until sometime in 2012, so reports of train failures could be either one or the other type.

Nevertheless, when I am on the Underground in the morning, and hear the announcements of delays on this line or that line, it is rare that you hear that the Metropolitan Line is delayed due to a train failure, whereas announcements that the Victoria Line has delays because one of their trains has gone kaput are commonplace. And don’t forget that the 2009 Stock is entirely responsible for the Victoria Line now. Perhaps though I am being overly generous to the S Stock. It may yet turn out to be a total lemon whose faults are hidden by the unique nature of the Metropolitan Line. We’ll see what happens when it starts replacing the C69/77 Stock on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines, which are just a pair of running lines. So if there’s a train failure here, then there will be problems.

S Stock train - based on a single short journey, the new S Stock could prove a winner for Bombardier

Thinking about the introduction of the S Stock, I then gave some consideration to the idea I had about using the A60/62 Stock on the Lymington Branch Line, instead of the solution South West Trains came up with to replace their Class 421s. Except that the A Stock is the widest mainline sized passenger train currently in use anywhere in Great Britain, and thus would be out of gauge. So then I thought about the C69/77 Stock. Until I learned that they are pretty much the same size as the A Stock, and so would also not be able to run. Le sigh. But, that still leaves us with the D78 Stock, which is due to be replaced by 2015, and which Harrogate Council want to use to improve the service on the Harrogate Line. The D78 Stock are not as wide as either the A or C Stock trains, and so could be used without the need to do major work on the infrastructure. So how about SWT making preparations to obtain some D Stock trains alongside Harrogate Council?


3 Responses

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  1. Chris said, on 29 January 2012 at 3:03 pm

    How bizarre – i had high expectations but when i travelled on one all i could hear was the horrible noise of badly fitted interior panels, really dissapointing. Deliveries also had to be stopped for a while because of various problems, including the suspension.

    Btw the D stock idea is daft – if buying non-standard stock could be justified on the Lymington Branch they’d be using the stored 508’s, currently at Eastleigh.

    • Chairman Pip said, on 29 January 2012 at 3:50 pm

      Well, like I say, I was only on it for three stops. Maybe my view would be different if I had to go from Amersham to Aldgate.

      As for the D Stock idea, I think that using some of those 508s would be something of a waste, on a long siding, when they could well be used for strengthening other services elsewhere. Given that there are a total of 75 D Stock trains, there should be plenty of vehicles for both use and as spares in both Harrogate and Lymington.

  2. Chris said, on 29 January 2012 at 3:04 pm

    sorry, i mean *operating* non-standard stock…

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