The Anonymous Widower

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Elimination Of Slow Trains

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways discusses the improvements that may be made by the new franchisee of the Southeastern franchise.

Southeastern‘s current fleet includes.

The slower 75 mph trains are generally older and lack customer-friendly features like wi-fi and good information screens.

The article says that Class 465 trains are still used on the Maidstone East Line and possibly on Tunbridge Wells stoppers.

I can confirm in my trip to Longfield Station, that they are still used on that route.

Running these slow trains in with the faster 100 mph units like the Class 375/377 trains, is like allowing milk-floats on motorways.

It could be that the reason, stations on the Maidstone East Line only get two trains per hour (tph), is because some services are or could be run by the slow Class 465 trains.

Implications For The Maidstone East Line

Currently, Maidstone East to Ashford International station takes about thirty minutes.

Given that modern trains like Southeastern’s  Class 375 and Class 377 trains and Thameslink’s Class 700 trains are also very much better and faster at carrying out a station stop, could it be that even if the train stopped everywhere on the Maidstone East Line, that substantial savings in time could be made?

Could this mean, that Thameslink’s future Cambridge to Maidstone East service could be extended to the much better connected Ashford International?

I think it could be mathematically possible and it would mean that all the intermediate stations on the Maidstone East Line would have a doubling of service frequency to 4 tph.

This is a simple example in the Southeastern area, but in how many other places on their network, do the 75 mph trains cause timetabling problems.

It is my belief, that all trains incapable of operating at 100 mph, should either be modified so they can operate at 100 mph or be scrapped.

The Minimum Train Specification

A minimum electric train specification should probably be something like this, to satisfy passengers and train operating companies.

  • 100 mph capability
  • Designed for a fast station stop with minimum dwell-time
  • Regenerative braking
  • Efficient traction motors
  • Wi-fi in all classes
  • The capability to fit boosters for 4G signals.

Southeastern’s Class 465 trains fail on all points.

Metro Operations

But surely, they are OK when running a Metro service like Victoria to Dartford?

Currently, this service takes 49 minutes with eleven stops.

This means that a train takes two hours to go from Victoria and Dartford and back, so to achieve the required service frequency of 2 tph, four trains will be needed.

But supposing a modern train is used on this route. Train manufacturers will claim that a modern train saves about two to three minutes a stop.

So if two minutes a stop is saved, modern signalling is used to advantage and the driver uses the extra speed and acceleration with alacrity, I feel that the forty-nine minute journey could be brought down sufficiently, so that the round trip would be under an hour.

Not only would passengers see a faster service of under thirty minutes in a much better equipped train, but the operator could run the 2 tph service with just two trains instead of four and a big saving in electricity.

The operator may have to alter staff practices because of the faster journey, but I doubt it would be anything controversial.

Could Class 707 Trains Be Used On The Southeastern Franchise?

The Class 707 trains, which are unwanted by South Western Railway are 100 mph units and are probably up-to-scratch for the train operator.

But they may need to be retrofitted with wi-fi.

I suspect, that one of the conditions of the new Southeastern franchise, is that free wi-fi is offered. Now that Crossrail is throwing in 4G access, I suspect all bidders will offer this too!

Conclusion

All trains incapable of running a service at 100 mph should be eliminated, just as the two operators;Greater Anglia and South Western Railway, are planning to do.

There’s going to a lot of slow trains going cheap!

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

 

 

June 30, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , ,

17 Comments »

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