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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The train arriving seven months late: Thameslink belatedly boosts weekday service at Charlton

Thameslink class 700 trains
A slightly less unusual sight from December – but don’t go banking on weekend trains

Charlton is due to get its full weekday train service back in December – seven months after the botched introduction of Thameslink services resulted in many trains to Kent being deleted from the timetable.

Changes to rail services in May saw the long-established Charing Cross to Gillingham trains operated by Southeastern replaced by two Thameslink trains per hour from Luton, St Pancras, Farringdon, Blackfriars and London Bridge to Rainham, one stop further down the line.

This followed the huge project to revamp London Bridge station to allow for extra services between north and south London.

While the service provided new links to north London and beyond, poor planning meant that many of the new trains did actually materialise. In July the service was cut back to to hourly to allow Thameslink to train drivers on the new routes – slashing the links to Dartford and beyond and leaving gaps in the timetable to central London.

Now the company, which operates a contract on behalf of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, says the full weekday service will now be introduced in its winter timetable from 9 December – meaning Charlton should be up to its full complement of eight trains each hour once again.

Thameslink trains will run half-hourly to Rainham between 0604 and 2234, with two final trains at 2304 and 2334 terminating at Gillingham. Trains call at Westcombe Park two minutes earlier.

Heading to central London and beyond, Thameslink trains to London Bridge, Blackfriars, Farringdon, St Pancras and West Hampstead Thameslink will run half-hourly from 0540 to 2310, stopping at Westcombe Park two minutes later.

Most will run onto Luton – handy for the airport – although many will be skipping the useful north London stop at Kentish Town.

Weekend rail woe

However, the weekend trains remain at a miserly hourly frequency for the time being, mostly only running as far north as Kentish Town.

Thameslink says: “The weekend timetable will continue in its current format for now, with more services planned by May 2019.

“Our current simplified weekend timetable means engineering work alterations can be overlaid in a shorter than usual timeframe. There is every intention of returning to normal industry agreed timescales and both planning teams in Thameslink Railway and Network Rail continue to work to achieve this as quickly as possible.”

Full timetables – for Thameslink trains only – can be found at thameslinkrailway.com.


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