The Anonymous Widower

A First Ride In A Class 700 Train

Today, I caught the 10:48 between East Croydon and London Bridge stations,. I took that train as this service was mentioned as the first one to be served by a new Class 700 train, in this article on Global Rail News.

As the pictures show it was one of the new twelve-car Siemens trains.

If I would give it a complement it would be competent, as most new trains seem to be these days.

The design features I like include.

  • The spacious lobbies.
  • The walk-through train.
  • 2 x 2 seating.
  • The comprehensive information system.
  • The extra luggage racks, in addition to the usual racks above the seats.
  • The simple colour scheme.
  • The trains would work with platform-edge doors.
  • Putting First Class at both ends of the train.

Passengers might complain about the following.

  • The lack of audible messages. – I liked the quiet, but I’m not blind.
  • The lack of tables in Standard Class compared with say the Class 387 trains, that currently work the line.
  • The length of the train at 242.6m., if they get in the wrong carriage.
  • The high step up into the train.

The last one is possibly to be compatible with other trains and is being addressed at East Croydon station, by raising the platforms. I didn’t go to Gatwick, but imagine large numbers of heavy cases being loaded and unloaded.

It will certainly be interesting to compare the Class 700 train, with Crossrail’s new Class 345 train, that is being built by Bombardier and could be testing later this year, with introduction in May 2017.

The length of the Class 700 and Class 345 trains at 242.6 and 200 metres respectively will certainly fuel the old chestnut about whether double-deck trains would have been better.

As I found with my short trip on a Class 700 train, walking from the back to the front could be a challenge for some. But commuters will develop strategies to make the journey easier.

So some may argue that double deck-trains might be easier on passengers.

But Thameslink and Crossrail have not been built for double-deck trains and certainly the older tunnels couldn’t accommodate them, without complete closure for a couple of years, so they could be rebored.

Both lines serve airports and stations, where passengers are likely to be bringing heavy baggage. This makes loading especially difficult on a double-deck train and delays the service.

Both trains have been designed with large lobbies and the Class 345 trains have three sets of doors on either side of each carriage. But they’ll need this space and doors as the longest trains carry upwards of 1,500 passengers.

These two fleets of massive trains will certainly change London. But I see problems in some areas, that must be addressed on Thameslink.


To realise the full potential of the Class 700 trains on Thameslink, some stations may need improvements.

Brighton could make for a lot of walking up and down the platform. Travelators?

I also think that Brighton needs a high-capacity East-West transport system to cope with the large number of passengers. Could the East Coastway and West Coastway Lines be connected together by a tunnel or a bridge over the station, which incorporated two connecting platforms?

East Croydon needs more improvements.

A dedicated island platform for Thameslink, as Crossrail has at Whitechapel, would knit all the branches together, so that journeys between any two branches were made easier and station footfall was reduced?

Gatwick is getting improvements, with a new concourse..

St. Pancras only has one big entrance in the middle. Does it need an extra Southern entrance? Or will passengers use stations like Farringdon, Finsbury Park and London Bridge to avoid the badly-designed station.

I certainly will avoid joining Thameslink at St. Pancras like the plague.

Step-Free And Disabled Access

The stations may be step-free, but the train-platform interface is not. However this is said in this document on the Thsmeslink Programme web site.

Platform humps at central London stations will provide level access for swift boarding by wheelchairs and people with buggies or heavy luggage – meaning no more ramps at the busiest central London stations.

I would assume humps would also be provided at stations like Gatwick and Brighton, if it were to be found they were needed.

I suspect, that in the end, humps will be provided at all stations served by Thameslink, as it will ease the logistics of running the system.

Platform Edge Doors

I don’t like platform edge doors as a passenger, but as an engineer, they make loading and unloading trains more efficient.

The Central Tunnel

The big problem with Thameslink, is that we are aiming to get twenty-four trains per hour under London.

Trains will have a schedule and must be driven exactly to those times. As the time between trains is just one hundred and fifty seconds.

So supposing, there was a problem with  loading at say Purley and the train was delayed by five minutes, you have a serious problem, that would knock on for some time.

Every possible cause of delay should be eliminated.

  • All stations must have humps for wheelchair users.
  • Central stations may get platform edge doors.
  • Stations must be improved so that passenger flows are not impeded.
  • Train reliability must be as close to a hundred percent as possible.

As a Control Engineer, I strongly believe that all trains should be driven automatically.

An illustration of the problem was provided this morning at East Croydon, whilst I was waiting for my Class 700 train..

There were late trains all over the place, due to various problems including power supply, signalling and staff sickness.

, The Thameslink service is going to need all the help it can to get all the trains lined up and on time to go through the central tunnel.

What About Crossrail?

Crossrail has big advantages over Thameslink.

  • ; All of the central stations have new platforms, which have been designed to fit the new trains.
  • The branches to the four terminals, run for nearly all of their routes on dedicated tracks without other trains.
  • The central stations have platform edge doors for safety, which may improve time-keeping on the service.

Overall though, Crossrail is a much simpler design than Thameslink.

Making Crossrail work will be a lot easier than making Thameslink work!


June 27, 2016 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , ,


  1. My comments, from the photos:

    1. The gap between the train and the platform looks deep, I would struggle with that, and certainly wouldn’t be able to get scooter up it.

    2. Not much legroom from pictures, although it may be better in seats with a table, and/or in first class.

    3. I love the sign telling people where the toilets are.

    4. I love that there is a place for heavier luggage.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | June 27, 2016 | Reply

    • The step is a problem South of the Thames and I think is traditional, in that it’s always been like that. It’s a problem that exists all over the rail network, but is much worse on the Continent.

      London Underground and Overground a working hard at it and it is getting better.

      Comment by AnonW | June 27, 2016 | Reply

  2. […] A First Ride On A Class 700 Train, I went past the Bermondsey […]

    Pingback by Bermondsey Dive-Under – 27th June 2016 « The Anonymous Widower | June 27, 2016 | Reply

  3. […] I have travelled on the new Class 700 trains and I wrote about my journey in A First Ride In A Class 700 Train. […]

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