Southeastern gets ‘nearly-new’ trains to replace Networkers from Charlton station

Class 707 train
The ‘new’ train: click to expand

Southeastern has confirmed that 30 “nearly new” trains are to come into service on the line through Charlton this autumn to replace some of its existing Networker stock, which is nearly 30 years old.

The Class 707 trains had been built to serve lines out of Waterloo, but were deemed surplus to requirements when South Western Railway took over the route in August 2017, just weeks after the first trains entered service.

Now the trains – which are very similar to the ones used by Thameslink – are being repainted blue to run on Southeastern’s metro lines to Dartford, as well as to Hayes and Sevenoaks. They will also have wi-fi, information screens and plug sockets.

Class 707 infographic

They will replace some of the familiar Networker trains, which have been a common sight in the area since 1992, when they followed the old slam-door trains. A handful of Networkers have already been taken to Worksop, Nottinghamshire, for storage.

David Statham, Southeastern’s managing director, said: “Bringing in modern, reliable trains with more space is an important part of the work we are doing to encourage people back to rail travel.

“Following a great effort by everyone across the railway, I’m very pleased to confirm that our new trains are getting set to carry passengers later this year.

“The Class 707 represents a big investment in our train fleet and I’m really looking forward to welcoming our customers aboard.”


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No trains through Charlton for next two weekends: 7-8 and 14-15 March

A train, seen on a weekday

There will be no trains through Charlton for the next two weekends as Network Rail is closing the line between Deptford and Plumstead for engineering works.

Despite the major closure, there has been little publicity about the works, which will affect fans this Saturday heading to Charlton Athletic’s match against Middlesborough – a team that traditionally brings a strong away following.

Two buses per hour will run between Lewisham and Plumstead, instead of the eight-train Saturday service and six-train Sunday timetable.

The Charlton Champion has asked Network Rail why the line is being closed and we’ll update this story when it responds. Update Wednesday: A Network Rail spokesperson would only say that the closure was “part of the Kent and South East London upgrade programme”. (see further update below)

There will be normal Jubilee line services to North Greenwich on the first weekend when the line through Greenwich is closed; however, on 14 and 15 March it will be closed between Waterloo and Stanmore, which is likely to mean a less-frequent service on the rest of the line. Docklands Light Railway services are also disrupted on 14 and 15 March, with no trains to Bank.

Disruption will also occur on Sunday 22 March, with no trains from Charlton before 9.15am and no Thameslink trains at all scheduled to run through the station.

The closures will cap a month of weekend service reductions on the line, with Thameslink services being reduced last Sunday despite The Big Half half-marathon taking place in Greenwich.

However, Charlton passengers will escape most of the disruption at Easter, when all lines through Hither Green will be closed as part of a major signalling project.

Friday update: Network Rail belatedly sent us an update yesterday to say the works will “lay nearly a kilometre of new track, sleepers and ballast on the line”.

“The work will allow the removal of speed restrictions which have been put in place because of worn out track, helping to speed up trains, reduce delay and give passengers smoother, more reliable journeys. Closing the line during the weekend means that the work can be done safely, in less time.”

“Fiona Taylor, Route Director, Kent. Network Rail said:

“‘While infrastructure faults are down by 30 per cent on this part of the network, we know that even a minor incident in this incredibly congested area will have a major impact on the train service. That’s why our upgrade work is so important to ensuring trains run reliably.

“‘We know it’s inconvenient for passengers when we close the railway and would like to thank them for their patience while we do this important work. Most of the network is open as usual but please check your journey before travelling.'”


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No trains from Charlton this weekend, 25/26 January

Train at London Bridge station
Getting to London Bridge will be more difficult this weekend

Just in case you were planning to go somewhere this weekend, Network Rail engineering works mean there are no trains at all from Charlton, Westcombe Park or Woolwich Dockyard on Saturday and Sunday.

Trains (including Thameslink trains) will be running via Blackheath and Bexleyheath instead. Two replacement buses an hour are running from Lewisham to Plumstead, with a similarly infrequent train service between Plumstead and Dartford.

A normal service will run on the Jubilee Line and Docklands Light Railway.

Maddeningly, the rail closure had coincided with a London derby at The Valley – but Charlton Athletic’s match with Fulham, which had been scheduled for Saturday, was brought forward to tonight after the Cottagers won their third-round FA Cup tie earlier this month.

The closure comes ahead of the major works which will close the Bexleyheath line during the February half-term week, which will see busier trains through Charlton for nine days, as well as some extra services such as peak-hour trains to Victoria. More information at bexleyheathline.co.uk.


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