A solution to the uncomfortable, cramped and awkward journeys across South East London has been created.
Originally destined for South West London’s SWR network, a series of musical chairs with various rolling stock contracts means rail operator Southeastern has now ended up with 30 of five carriage-long open-plan electric trains.
Called the “City Beam”, the trains appear similar to the trains currently used on Thameslink services but are crucially much younger, just three years old.
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Each City Beam by German manufacturer Siemens is undergoing a makeover before entering passenger service, with the first two making their appearance today.
All 30 will be ready by next Spring. They will be replacing 29-year-old Networker trains, which are starting to show their age.
(Image: James Mayer)
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The City Beam trains are more comfortable, accessible and secure than their predecessors due to wider aisles, walk-through carriages and enhanced CCTV.
They are also equipped with real-time information screens which show service disruptions on both Transport for London (TfL) and Southeastern networks.
As with many new trains coming onto London’s rail network, plug sockets are dotted throughout the train and WiFi means you can stay connected throughout the journey.
The trains will run on Southeastern’s Metro services between Central London and Dartford/Hayes/Sevenoaks via South East London, an area which has no Tube network, relying on these trains heavily.
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David Statham, managing director for Southeastern, said: “Our focus is always on improving the service for our passengers, and we are confident that these new trains will make a huge difference over the coming months, as we progressively introduce more of the trains into service.”
Southeastern performed well in the most recent passenger survey (NRPS) conducted before the pandemic in 2020, with an overall satisfaction of 83 per cent, in line with the London average of 82 per cent.
Satisfaction with the trains it uses had also been increasing slightly, boosting the score.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “The rollout of City Beam trains will mean more modern, accessible and comfortable journeys for passengers across south-east London and north Kent.”
For those of us who might remember these trains from their brief flirt with the SWR network, you’ll be happy to know that SWR has even newer trains on order to replace these ones.
SWR has announced plans to cut back the number of train services it operates across South West London due to the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic affecting when its customers travel.
Have you travelled on the City Beam trains yet? What are your first impressions? Tell us in the comments below!
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