In part one we looked at the verdict of the National Audit Office report on Thameslink and more specifically on the infrastructure work done so far. In part two we look in detail at the comments relating to train procurement.

Here, one does have to get far into the report to realise that there is a big problem that needs to be sorted out by the DfT. A telling paragraph describing the problem is as follows:

11 The award of the contract to buy new trains is currently delayed by more than three years. The Department decided in March 2008 to let a complex PFI contract to one supplier to design, build, finance and maintain the new trains. We cannot comment in detail on the reasons for the delay to the procurement until the contract is awarded. However, the delays raise questions about whether the Department underestimated the scale of work, time and skills and capacity it required to negotiate a complex PFI deal.

As far as impacting on the Thameslink Programme, the next paragraph states:

The delay in letting the contract for the new trains:

  • Adds logistical complexity to the infrastructure project. In particular, there are risks around accommodating the train design with some elements of the infrastructure project.
  • Adds complexity to the process of letting a new franchise. Uncertainty around when the train contract will be let makes it more difficult to determine appropriate terms for the franchise agreement.
  • Raises questions about the feasibility of delivering the whole programme by 2018.

The Department has not yet fully mapped out the programme’s critical path based on a revised timetable for delivering the new trains to determine whether 2018 is still feasible or how much contingency is left in the timetable. The Department has been working with its industry partners to do this but cannot complete this until it has let the contract for the new trains.

It does not end there…

13 The delays also affect the Department’s plans for the electrification of other parts of the rail network. The delays mean that the Department is currently buying additional trains to meet short-term demand on newly electrified routes elsewhere in the country. The additional procurements raise questions around who bears the risk that the trains will still be needed when the Thameslink procurement is completed, and the Department’s role in securing and managing the allocation of trains within the network. We intend to return to this subject in future work…

This clearly is a major issue because part 3 of the report is entitled “The impact of the delays to the new trains” and it doesn’t make pleasant reading.

The Revised Timetable

Within part 3 is a crucial table that contains three columns of dates. The first set of dates (column 2) is the timetable as announced at the time of issuing the Invitations To Tender (ITT) for the trains. The second set of dates (centre column) shows the revised schedule set in 2010 announced ostensibly as a result of the spending review but in part, at least, because it was realised that the original schedule was not realistic. The third set of dates (column 4) list the dates when the critical milestones mentioned were actually met.

Key Procurement Dates

Critical Procurement Dates and how they haven’t been met. Click to enlarge.

The DfT keep saying that it is still expected that all the trains will be delivered in time for the planned opening in December 2018. Given that is over five years away that sounds reassuring. The problem is that plans outside Thameslink originally relied on the Thameslink trains being delivered much earlier. According to the original schedule (second column) the first of the batch should have been in service by now and enabled some Southern Class 377 on loan to First Capital Connect (the current franchise holders for Thameslink) to be returned to strengthen Southern services.

It was, of course, realised that the delays to the Thameslink stock were going to cause problems elsewhere. This has been resolved by ordering other replacement trains and we will look at that in detail in a moment. Meanwhile, even if the revised delivery target (middle column) had been met, the first trains would not have arrived until July 2015. This would have created a problem because Thameslink trains will be unable to call at London Bridge from December 2014. The alternative route via Herne Hill is approximately nine minutes slower so just to maintain the Thameslink service during this period would require extra trains. On top of that, the infrastructure is quite capable of taking 12 car trains on the Brighton route. It would be a sad reflection on a scheme that has the objective of increasing capacity if the process of implementing it caused capacity to actually be reduced. Yet due to a lack of rolling stock this is what would happen, unless some more trains appeared from somewhere. Fortunately this appears to be the plan.

The Risk of a delayed project due to no new trains

What is more worrying still is that if the trains are not ordered in time it might be the case that the project cannot complete on time. The revised timetable (middle column) allowed a generous 3 years 9 months to deliver the first train and a further three and a half years to deliver the final train. The problem is that although Siemens were announced as preferred bidder in June 2011 the contract still has not been signed.

Even if it were to be signed next month (July 2013) this delay means that the first train would have to be delivered in two years time (July 2015) to get back on the revised schedule. As we are not talking about an existing product that comes off an existing production line, but a train that doesn’t yet exist, this would appear to be very aggressive delivery schedule indeed.

Don’t Know, Can’t Ask

Rather frustratingly, the report suggests from one of the paragraphs quoted earlier that the DfT will not be able to know if the project can be completed on time until  the contract is signed. The suggestion is that the questions they need to ask other contractors and Network Rail cannot be asked until there is a contract in place, due to commercial confidentiality.

Playing Catch-up

If the delivery of the first train does not take place until after July 2015 then the only way the project can get back on schedule is if trains are delivered at a faster rate than planned. Three and a half years might sound like a long time to deliver a fleet of trains but we are talking about a huge order expected to consist of around 1200 hi-tech carriages built to a design that hasn’t been tested in the real world.

One only has to look at S stock deliveries, or even the Victoria Line 2009 stock deliveries, to realise that one carriage a day often represents a typical rate of train production. As a further complication, delivery and acceptance (usually after an agreed accumulation of miles) are different things and if any problems occur during the delivery phase it may be necessary to recall vehicles already delivered and rectify them before restarting new deliveries. Sending trains built by Bombardier back to Derby is bad enough, but at least there is a relatively available route to do this on an ad hoc basis. Sending them back to where Siemens will assemble the trains, which according to the BBC is South Tyneside but in reality it is almost certainly Germany would probably not be practical and may be another reason to have the depots ready long before the first train arrives.

Even if you could produce the trains at a higher rate than planned this does not solve everything. It is important to get a few trains early on just to test compatibility and the report makes much of this. Of particular concern is the ATO signalling. Of course nowadays signalling has quite a large train borne element and for ATO this is especially true. Those responsible for project delivery will be looking to have as long as possible to thoroughly test the interfaces. The only good news here is that Siemens recently bought out the signalling supplier, Invensys Rail, so hopefully there won’t be inter-contractual disputes. One wonders how much the Siemens Thameslink order influenced the decision by Siemens to buy Invensys.

Of course things can be done in mitigation to try to cut out as much delay as possible. It is known that Siemens have gone ahead with the development of a new bogie even though they haven’t got the final confirmed order yet. The DfT and Siemens have also entered into an Advance Works Agreement which enables Siemens to commence construction of advance works at the two depots – Hornsey and Three Bridges. Obviously it would be unfortunate if Siemens managed to produce trains in record time only to find they couldn’t be delivered because the depots were not complete.

We are sorry for the delay. The reason is confidential.

As stated earlier the exact reason for the delay in signing is not clear and will remain confidential until agreement is reached – assuming it is reached one day. Initially it was believed that the problem was that, due to the worldwide recession, Siemens had a problem borrowing money at the rate they had budgeted for in order to finance production for this large contract. This might have been plausible at the time, but with money now available at low rates of interest this seems less likely. On the other hand, the government has made an exception for Crossrail and allowed it to buy the trains it will order. In other words they will be publicly financed. This is to ensure that Crossrail does not suffer from the delays that Thameslink does. This would seem to only make sense if the Thameslink problems caused by issues involving the private financing of the order. Notwithstanding the revised financial arrangements, the Thameslink rolling stock delay must be very frustrating for Crossrail, who were probably originally hoping that could see the new trains in action before finally committing to the Crossrail order.

The NAO report rather suggests that, in trying to do an admirable thing and issue a tightly-specified Design, Build, Finance and Maintain contract, the DfT has seriously underestimated the complexity of such a task.

The belief is that neither side can afford to back out of this contract. One would like to believe this, but a worrying question would be what would happen if an agreement just could not be reached in time – or at all? We really would be in uncharted territory.

What if not all of the trains are delivered on time?

We are led to believe that it will  be possible to run non-ATO-equipped trains in the ATO section. There will be conventional signals and, presumably, TPWS will be active. If true, this must be a saving grace. Presumably if Thameslink were able to hang on to existing trains then they could operate some kind of enhanced service from December 2018 even if not all the new trains were delivered.

If the December 2018 implementation relied on some non-ATO trains then it would seem likely that there will be only 20tph – 22tph at most. The problem with going for 24tph without full ATO is that if it doesn’t work there has to be an embarrassing climbdown and a new less-challenging timetable introduced. If, on the other hand, it does work, then serious questions are going to be asked about the necessity of specifying ATO the first place. From Network Rail’s point of view, assuming we ever reached this stage, the best outcome would be that it is realised that 24tph works, just, but it is clear that with ATO there is the advantage of being able to recover much more quickly from a disrupted service and so specifying ATO can be justified.

The Replacement trains

The NAO report very helpfully records in a table trains all the units that either have been purchased or are due to be purchased as a result of Thameslink rolling stock delays. A brief description of the reason they were needed is given and the cost to the department caused by the need to order these trains as a result of a delay to the original Thameslink order. So the last column is the cost of the delay – not the cost of the trains. The implication is that had the original deal gone though when intended the DfT or TOC would have got a more competitive deal with lower operating and leasing costs.

Additional Train Procurements

Carriages ordered as a consequence of Thameslink Delays. The final column headed “cost” is the cost attributable to the procurement delays – not the cost of the carriages themselves. Click to enlarge.

How much does a railway carriage cost?

From the information provided in the table and the original press releases issued by Southern – here and here – we can get a very good idea of an approximate figure of what a railway carriage costs. The figures must be treated with some caution as it is impossible to tell if we are comparing like with like. For example, the presumption made is that all figures quoted are capital costs and don’t included a maintenance element.

Taking the Siemens trains first, the figure of £1.6 billion has been stated as the approximate value of the contract. This covers the construction of two depots. Let us assume £50 million to build a depot – which is probably on the low side. It is presumed that approximately 1200 carriages will need to be built to have the necessary number available at any time as specified in the contract. So 1200 carriages costing a total of £1.5 billion means each carriage costs around £1.25 million. This compares almost exactly with the cost of an ‘S’ stock carriage which is shorter, but is highly customised and also comes from a large order.

Taking the most recent Southern order, because this has closer to current day prices and because the figures are simpler, we find 40 Bombardier class 377 carriages will cost £60 million. So each class 377 carriage, in a small production run admittedly, cost £1.5 million. IF these had been the not-yet-existing Siemens carriages, the cost for 40 of them would have been £50 million. The difference in cost, £10 million, probably not coincidentally, is the exact figure quoted in the right hand column as the extra cost as a result of the delay.

Ten million pounds may not sound too bad as an extra cost due to delay in the overall scheme of things. But this is just for the second (smaller) order of substitute trains. Taken with the larger order the delay has already cost £50 million. There will be a further order for which the additional cost is “not yet determined” but is likely to be around £40 million. So that is an extra £90 million due to the delays in ordering rolling stock, and this is not even what the NAO is most concerned about.

A canny collusion?

The orders referenced above originated from Southern. What is strange is that it is Southern that is placing the order – not the DfT. There appears to be some kind of collusion here and for the first two orders this is probably to avoid the open tendering rules in force at the time. These would have applied if the DfT order the carriages instead of Southern. It is believed that the original order was made in December before new rules for tendering came into force in the following year, and the second order was exempt from these rules because it was merely exercising an option present in the contract for the first order. Quite why Southern and not the DfT is placing the third order though is not at all clear.

On the third time round things will have to be done properly according to new rules. So there will be a specification and train builder invited to quote. In this modern world we live in it is not possible for Southern or the DfT to decide that, with very good reason, what they want is a few more class 377 trains and invite Bombardier to put a quote in for that. It has to go out to competitive tender and for that there has to be a specification that specifies what is required.

The other interesting item in the specification for the proposed third round of vehicles is a requirement to be able to run at 110 mph when using the overhead 25kV power supply. This is an advantage to Siemens who can already do this with their class 350/1 trains. It looks like an overlooked benefit of the Thameslink programme may be 110 mph running on the lines lines north of St Pancras – both to Bedford and on the East Coast Main Line. Of course, if ever the justification were made for re-electrification between East Croydon and Preston Park (near Brighton) at 25KV as has been investigated in some detail then with these trains a significant improvement in journey times can be made if the linespeed were to be increased from 90 to 110 mph. It does seem as 110 mph maximum speed will be the new norm for electrical multiple units where achieving such a speed would be worthwhile.

What will the new trains be used for?

The first order was to replace trains which were loaned to First Capital Connect and, due to the delay, Southern are unlikely to see them again for a few more years. At the time of the announcement the reason for the second order was very vague, but the NAO states that this is simply to beef up existing Southern services. This makes sense with longer trains planned for some routes from December 2013. The third order, due to be made soon, is stated as needed to support Thameslink in the short term. Whether this means we shall see 10 car units on Thameslink for a period, or whether these will be substituted for class 377s on Southern in order to release them for lengthening Thameslink trains, or indeed whether they will be used to provide additional London Bridge – Brighton services while Thameslink cannot call at London Bridge, is not at all clear.

An obvious concern is: what happens to the surplus units in the third tranche once the complete Siemens order is delivered? After that they will be used to “provide electric trains for newly electrified routes”. We presume that means routes electrified as a result of the Great Western electrification scheme and possibly others in the North of England. These are the schemes that would have originally have had the cascaded Thameslink stock – presumably after thorough refurbishment.

One further concern, no so obvious to everyone, is that these trains will be ordered for an ultimate purpose but there will initially be no commitment for any train operating company to use them for this purpose. Suppose, for example, that the trains were, for some reason, found to be unsuitable for some future use or that not all of them were needed. Basically there is a risk that the trains will end up in a siding and unused and someone needs to carry that risk. Needless to say the NAO did not miss this point. The report states:

The additional procurements raise questions around who bears the risk that the trains will still be needed when the Thameslink procurement is completed, and the Department’s role in securing and managing the allocation of trains within the network.

Damned with Faint Praise

If some credit could be found for the DfT in this sorry state of affairs, then it is that they appear to have a back-up plan – and arguably quite a good one at that. One almost hesitates to raise the point, but the worry is – what if delivery of the trains in the back-up plan  is delayed for any reason? Or even what if the cannot finalise the contract for third tranche of carriages in time? This must be a possibility given that it involves a new specification, whereas the first and second tranche were merely a repeat order for some existing stock. After all, it is the inability to finalise a contract that has gotten the DfT into this mess in the first place.

In our third and final part we will look at the consequences to the problems of franchising in the context of Thameslink and how the National Audit Office thinks that the Thameslink Programme should be judged.

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There are 157 comments on this article
  1. Anonymous says:

    I’d have thought that someone pedantic would know that ‘wherefore’ means ‘why’ not ‘where’!

  2. Ian Brooker says:

    I cannot claim any inside knowledge, but from passing the site the works at Three Bridges look far more than “preparatory”, in fact the shell of the building looks complete and lots of work going on.

  3. John Bull says:

    I chose the title and was being tongue in cheek by going for it’s “colloquial” usage. Ian (of Ianvisits) pointed out that it’d cause trouble though, and he was right!

    You’ll notice now that I’ve added the word Siemens to it though so that it works in both usages!

  4. StephenC says:

    Perhaps we should look at it differently? The country has ended up with more new trains than it probably would have done if the Thameslink contract had been signed on time. That will eventually mean more poor quality trains like Pacers dropping off the bottom. It might just possibly even be a deliberate ploy by a civil servant or two to achieve that…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ian Brooker

    Similar at Hornsey, which I passed yesterday; the depot seems to have sprouted in the past two weeks. Difficult to see it not being completed on time.

  6. Paul says:

    The 110 mph capability sought for the third tranche of trains being ordered by Southern is most likely nothing whatsoever to do with ‘fast trains to Bedford’ and everything to do with their eventual use in another area. Surely there’d be no advantage in introducing a fast service temporarily and then having to downgrade it once the ‘proper’ 100 mph Thameslink stock arrived – unless it has also been respecced as well.

    So I’d suggest the reference to 110 mph is an indicator that they are earmarked for the GWML…

  7. Alan Griffiths says:

    Paul 12:38PM, 10th June 2013

    “So I’d suggest the reference to 110 mph is an indicator that they are earmarked for the GWML…” or Liverpool – Newcastle and Manchester Airport – York when Transpennine north is electrified?

  8. EssexBoy says:

    The 110mph trains will be earmarked for the GEML. Have a read of the New Anglia report here.

  9. Snowy says:

    The entire rolling stock debacle seems to me to be a case of too many opinions not enough planning. Current ATOC & network rail specification (rolling stock RUS) imply that inefficiencies are occurring because we have too many differing types of trains which can’t interface with each other.

    The DfT on the other naturally want value for money & with European rules put each order to tender.

    Then we have several possible manufacturers all with reasonably good products but we want them to build the trains here to support British engineering & jobs. These trains can only be used here due to the small British loading gauge.

    We also want the to be mostly electric but have not completely finalised whether we want OHL or keep 3rd rail for a few more decades pending the trial conversion.

    This all seems like conflicting messages & the thameslink episode as highlighted in the report makes me somewhat nervous for the future

  10. Neil Turner says:

    I wasn’t aware that the new Siemens units would be assembled on Tyneside. I know this is the case for the Agility Trains/Hitachi units (another long, drawn out procurement, albeit one that has been completed). I was under the impression that the Siemens units would be built in Germany and Austria.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It is in fact the London Midland run 350/1 trains that can go at 110mph – the 350/2’s cannot currently do this. A minor point.

    The reference to 350/2’s in the Siemens press release appears to be solely because they happen to be a slightly more reliable set of trains at the moment.

  12. Anonymous says:

    @Essex Boy

    An interesting report (especially the preference for the Norwich line to be worked by new loco/ refurbished Mk3s/ DVT converted to passenger use). But i could find no mention that the 110mph units it says would be required to replace the “Dusty Bins” (321s) on the GEML (which would themselves replace 315s and 317s on stopping services) would be taken from the existing stopgap plans for the Southern.

    Maybe a surplus of electric units will kick-start the economics of some infill electrification projects – e.g Hull, Sunderland, Lincoln, Harrogate, Uckfield, Romney Marsh, Salisbury, Windermere, – who knows, even the Goblin?

  13. Walthamstow Writer says:

    I am slightly surprised to see a reference to the DfT being unfamiliar with PFIs and the risk of timescale overruns. I suppose all the experienced staff left when Hammond went round with his spending axe but surely it’s the same DfT that had huge influence over the “sign off” of the Prestige PFI and PPP with LU? I worked on both of those project teams and there was regular contact with and reporting to the DfT as you would expect with such high value contracts. The issues around complexity, long timescales, knock on consequences and costs is second nature to anyone who has worked on these deals. I could have told them if they’d picked the phone up 🙂

    I am sure Mr Hewett will pop up in due course but he has mentioned elsewhere that the DfT are trying to make the Thameslink contract “risk free” for the Government which means trying to shovel a whole pile of risk onto Siemens. Again anyone with an ounce of experience will know this comes with a massive (i.e. unaffordable) price tag, is completely unrealistic and delights the lawyers and financiers because they can then spend months / years / decades pushing back on behalf of their clients. I also suspect that the lack of a firm network of routes and service plans from First Group (as incumbent), DfT (as franchise client) and bidders (future operators) makes it nigh on impossible for Siemens and their experts to take any sort of view on any aspects of costs, risks and forecasts related to mileage. As I rather suspect the DfT want an inclusive “design / build / commission / maintain” contract then not being able to say what services the trains will run blows a huge hole in maintenance costings. The parties can make some brave assumptions but if I was Siemens I would want some pretty big caveats built in so I don’t lose money if reality turns out to be different to the assumptions. Will the DfT want to be left sitting with a great big potential cost claim on its desk which is almost guaranteed to materialise? I can already hear their lawyers whispering in their ears.

    I’m out of date with how the financing stuff works these days but you never get “financial close” (i.e. the banks slitting the client’s wrist to allow them to sign in blood) until you have “commercial close”. Given a desire for a risk free contract and all the related complexities you’re going to have a struggle to get commercial close to then allow the bankers, who have their own agenda, to run their slide rule over the numbers. All this is before the difficulties in raising any sort of finance from banks at the present time. No wonder TfL, who have bought themselves out of most of their PFIs, lobbied so hard for state funding for Crossrail. It makes life simpler in the procurement phase but isn’t without risks.

    On the issue of the Southern procurement phases I wonder quite what Bombardier have bid for and priced in the past and what was in the various contracts. In short have there been priced options which Southern have been able to activate (subject to a repricing update by Bombardier)? If DfT and Southern have gone to market fully, without any derogation, each time then it’s quite telling that Bombardier keep winning given their rumoured awkwardness over pricing and T&Cs and lack of real desire to keep Derby open.

    If I was to guess I rather expect the Siemens contract will eventually be signed but the trains will not be ready to allow a cascade to other bits of the network in accordance with expected timescales. We’ll therefore have diesel trains running under wires for months and months. I also suspect that “improved” Thameslink will “open” with a mixed fleet and without ATO. I doubt the DfT will have any desire to start trying to stick ATO kit on 319s and 377s. I’d love to be proved wrong but the integration task is massive as are the risks to service reliability. If I was bidding for the “Mega Southern” franchise I’d be asking some very challenging questions about what performance risk I was being asked to take on with a mixed age & type existing fleet, operating through several phases of a building site, introducing a new fleet and then trying to work with mixed signalling technologies.

    Oh and PoP I think you mean Southern 377s and not 378s when talking about where the new trains might run – towards the end of your article.

  14. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Ian Brooker, Anonymous 12:26

    More Than Preparatory Work

    I should have been clearer. I think from the point of view of the provider of the maintenance services I suspect preparatory work is  the construction of the building. That gets subcontracted to someone else. Siemens then have to go in and set up wheel lathes and a mass of other equipment including some very technical stuff, stock the store room, employ and possibly have to train a workforce etc.

    I would guess the building is specified and work supervised by Siemens but the DfT picks up the bill until the contract is sorted out.


    110 mph to Bedford.

    I concede I have made an assumption here so have changed “will be” to “may be”.

    Personally, I am convinced that Thameslink will be upgraded to 110 mph. Siemens have the technology and the contract has not yet been signed. Presumably the development work was written off with the project to get the class 350/1 up to 110 mph. It shouldn’t be hard to incorporate in to the next generation train that does not yet exist and anyone who has dealt with a builder knows to sort out any variations before the contract gets signed.

    I think the success on London Midland shows the clear benefit in the right circumstances. Look at it another way. A single 12-car train will cost between £15 and £18 million. Surely at that price it makes sense to utilise them as efficiently as possible? As London Midland has shown, speeding up the trains mean that you need fewer of them to provide a better service.

    @Essex Boy

    GEML will get the trains

    The report cited is commisioned by the county councils in East Anglia. Anyone can put a report on the internet. It means nothing. The councils have commisioned consultants to do this so it looks professional. At the end of the day unless the councils are going to put their own money into the scheme or Network Rail or the DfT endorses it then it is valueless as a reference to what will happen.

    Despite all that it looks interesting (even though bits are clearly taken from Network Rail’s own reports) and I will try to find time to have a read of it.

    @Neil Turner

    Assembled in Tyneside

    I have added a hyperlink.

    @Anonymous 02:57

    Class 350/1

    Yes, I didn’t read the press release carefully enough (always risky). Corrected. Thanks.

    @Walthamstow Writer

    Class 378

    Yes I meant class 377. Corrected. Thanks for pointing it out.
    Also you made the point much better than I could, and only half-heartedly tried, that each side (DfT and Siemens) want all the specifics known from the other before being prepared to make a final decision on various matters of which price is one of them. And no TOC is going to put in a bid without masses of contingency unless the other two parties specify exactly what is provided and what is expected of them.

  15. @StephenC

    The exact thought went through my mind when writing this article. I think one of the problems of open tendering rules with a general but tightly written specification is that there is a risk we keep getting more different type of rolling stock to satisfy the current fad. What we really want is a few decent size popular and reliable fleets that satisfy a purpose. I would have thought loads of identical 377 stock and a big standardised Thameslink stock would do that perfectly for the current Thameslink and Southern franchises. If the contract had been signed on time we may have ended up with a yet more over-diversified fleet.

    More relevant to your comment is the fact that we may finally get ahead of the curve where we have the rolling stock and look for the best place to deploy it. What happens now is that we finally accept there is a desperate need and then begrudgingly put in a tender for the smallest order we can get away with and then wait for them to be delivered by which time the number ordered is insufficient. So its another tender and probably another specification. And, whatever Ian Walmsley says in Modern Railways about Pacers being cheap (in financial terms), it is difficult not to believe that the mere existence of Pacers gives rail travel a bad impression that cannot be quantified.

  16. Greg Tingey says:

    What effing risk?
    The trains we have are full, some of them are creaking & we desperately need new stock.
    So DafT are buggering about – & have been for years – whilst the whole thing goes down the (Bed) pan ….
    I know a senior civil servant i DafT who actually knows about railways.
    Mention this project to him & he either emits hysterical laughter, &/or demands several more beers.
    Tells you something?

  17. Graham H says:

    I “pop up” with some trepidation and hope that Walthamstow Writer will forgive me in advance. When I last had the “pleasure” of reviewing the TLK contracts, on behalf of a bank in this case, I concluded that it was the operator who would probably be the ultimate patsy. By and large, the manufacturers were proof against most things that could go wrong; the only thing that troubled me then was that there was a route for the operator to sue the manufacturer if they failed to meet the performance spec including station dwell times. At the time, the lawyers were dismissive of this because they thought it wouldn’t arise but – of course – they know everything about train operation, don’t they? [But would Siemens or any other manufacturer know any better? – there’s no evidence that they would]. The other thing that may be troubling the banks (egged on by rabble rousers like me) is that the train operator can dismiss the manufacturer as train maintainer under certain circumstances. Now, most manufacturers price so that they make a better margin on maintenance than they do on construction, so Siemens may perhaps be concerned about this, too. The contracts may all have changed since 2011, of course, but if so, it would be major procurement scandal.

    As to the depots now being constructed, in another forum, a correspondent who works for one of Siemens subcontractors, assures us that they are going ahead in advance of signing the main contracts – again, a procurement scandal in that the depot contracts were originally tied into the rolling stock procurement. I can imagine a number of potential constructors who would have liked to get their hands on those directly without having to wait around for DfT to sort out the rolling stock.

    Then there is the question as to what happens if the trains are not built in time. The question is : when does the tipping point occur? In the days when it was merely TLK 2016, the manufacturers were being given 4 1/2 years to design, test and build the complete fleet. Given that there are no actual prototypes, merely kits of some parts running round under other things, that timescale is likely to still apply (* We have been assured, again in another forum – three weeks ago – that an announcement was “imminent” about the testing/prototype issue but so far – nothing). So, all we can do is speculate since no one is bothering (sc is too afraid ) to tell Joe taxpayer what isn’t happening. I will place a bet (to be paid in Haribo jelly bears) that if we don’t see a prototype running round bumping into NR’s signalling systems by next spring, we won’t see the full fleet by 12/18.

    People are right about the 377 procurement scam – Southern are merely DfT’s agents. Even if the 377 fleet went to TLK to save DfT’s face, it wouldn’t, together with the 319s, be enough and it would leave short all those places which were “hoping” to get the 319s for local electrification schemes. If the 377 fleet goes off to its intended location, then TLK is seriously short for 24 tph.

    Maybe it will all have a happy ending but I’d welcome views on when we last saw one of those. Chemin de Fer noir?

  18. Fandroid says:

    It’s no real surprise that a project that relies on so many independent organisations working to an overall plan that has has not yet been agreed is looking a bit squiffy. There’s a terribly British amateurishness about it. I’m sure that everyone involved is working their socks off. The simple truth is that they should have decided all the outcomes at the start, unified the whole delivery organisation, and publicly appointed one big project director to ruthlessly push it through to completion. Yet again, the holy, not to be fiddled with, rail industry structure tail is wagging the dog of professional project management.

  19. P Dan Tick says:

    I thought “Wherefore art thou?” came from Romeo and Juliet, and was Juliet asking “where are you Romeo?” not “Why are you Romeo?” On that basis the esteemed editor is correct.

  20. Anonymous says:

    No, it is definitely “Why are you Romeo?” (J is lamenting the fact that R’s name shows him to be a member of a family that is at enmity with J’s family. “O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name … O, be some other name! What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet.”)

  21. Pedantic Of Purley says:

    @P Dan Tick

    Oh no, you misunderstand. “Wherefore art thou ?” sort of means “Why are you what you are ?” The point being of course that Romeo was a Montague and Juliet was a Capulet and the families were pretty much at war with each other. So think of it more as “Wherefore art thou, Romeo [Montague] ?” or “Romeo, why do you have to be a Montague ?”

    Don’t they learn you nuffin at skool ?

  22. Alan Griffiths says:

    A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

  23. Logical68 says:

    I think there is an ‘elephant in the room’ with regard to finalizing the train specification.

    As in the PoPs article “Thameslink and the National Audit Office: Part 1”

    …”Most likely, given the deliberate vagueness of the description and lack of specific locations identified, Network Rail and the DfT are still trying to decide on the remaining destinations for Thameslink and they will be a combination of the options above. This indecisiveness would have had implications when looking at putting the Thameslink franchise out to tender if it were not for bigger issues that came along.”…

    Different service routes and also any diversionary routes alas, will have varying requirements/restrictions for rolling stock (gauge, power, platforming, traffic levels etc.). I know they aren’t major south of the river, however they do exist.

    If Network Rail and the DfT still can’t set the final destinations for Thameslink [2000], how can Siemens set the final specification for the trains?

  24. marko says:

    Take heart that it can’t possibly be as bad as NS/SNCB’s procurement of trains from AnsaldoBreda…..

  25. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ logical68 – it’s even worse than you suggest. No argument with the main point you’re making *but* DfT indicated in the consultation about the “Mega Southern” franchise that it wished to give the future franchisee “freedom” to develop and change the service patterns. This could have horrendous implications *unless* DfT do the decent thing and set some limits to how far Thameslink trains can meander around the franchise area. Of course the risk for DfT is that their “limits” are then thrown back at them by bidders who say “now if only you would allow us to run trains to “x” we would pay you £”y” millions of extra premium on the franchise”. The DfT are answerable to the Treasury who will want the biggest possible payback from this franchise given the massive investment being put in *and* the fact that First Capital Connect are the only fully profitable franchise on the network. I would also guess that franchise costs are revenue expenditure and this budget will be being screwed into the floor as the Chancellor battles to find another £11bn of cuts. Therefore do the DfT agree to relax their route limits in order to achieve a bigger franchise premium payment *even* if it means the Network Rail credit card takes a hit to modify a route for new stock to operate.

    @ Marko – well selecting AnsaldoBreda is never a good place to start. 🙂 However a project on the scale of Thameslink has plenty of potential to go badly wrong because of the scale of system integration that has to be achieved plus the mixed infrastructure being used.

  26. Greg Tingey says:

    Romeo (& the Montagus) were Ghibellines, whilst Juliet (& the Capulets) were Guelf – see Dante for more elaboration ….


  27. CBN4 says:

    Brilliant article has always. I’ve wondered what would of happened to the extra carriages ordered from Southern once the Thameslink programme does eventually finish and get the new fleet of trains, London Bridge redeveloped etc. Me personally I would of loved the whole of Southern use class 377 trains and get rid of the class 455 on London metro services but I reckon with London metro services getting extended to 10-cars the extra carriages would be use for that.

    Out of curiosity how comes the platform’s never got extended to 12-car and only 10? I can imagine a few issues with some stations (Balham and Tulse Hill come to mind) but there must be more to it than that…

  28. Logical68 says:

    @Walthamstow Writer

    I hadn’t realised the additional implications for the Treasury that you mentioned. 🙁

    And so the wheel turns (metaphorically)! Nothing gets done, the project is delayed further, the Treasury eventually takes the hit on the delay anyway and funds are wasted which could have been more usefully deployed elswhere and not just for rail.

    Delays means everybody (TOC, NR, DfT, Treasury, Passengers, London boroughs, Local councils, County councils, User groups etc. etc.) get p***ed off.

    If we in the ‘blogisphere’ (sorry!) can see this, why can’t the experts? We really just want someone to see the long-term bigger picture; man-up, grow a pair and make a decision!

  29. Anonymous says:

    CBN4, Tulse Hill will certainly be a problem because its platforms are not being lengthened! The station is sandwiched between two road bridges and so one or both would need rebuilding.

    But with the RUS proposing additional services between London Bridge and Tulse Hill following the Thameslink works this would provide extra capacity on that route without needing longer trains. And longer trains on the Thameslink line would also need extensive work at Elephant and Castle for the same reason and Herne Hill which is trapped between a junction and a road bridge with a junction straight after.

    I believe it is just stations on the Victoria to Sutton routes via Norbury and Crystal Palace that are being extended to take longer trains. Maybe also East Croydon to Purley as it was proposed for the joined services to Caterham and Tattenham Corner too. Although why they are not being future proofed for 12 carriage trains I can only guess cost cutting.

  30. DW down under says:

    From my contribution at DD’s, with particular reference to Project Management and Risk, following a comment about the timetable cited by NAO as being NOT public policy:


    And indeed from my perspective as a one-time project manager and programme manager, the one statement that stood out enormously to me was that DafT still haven’t completed their Critical Path Analysis. As a consequence, they are on no position to commit any timeframe as public policy. The CPA is intimately linked to risk and until completed, DafT really has no proper measure of risk in this project. Staggering!

    This is as close as we, the great unwashed [snip], will get to being properly informed until that CPA is completed.

    It leaves me wondering what is so hard about setting up a “power by the hour” contract that it’s taken three years and they’re still at it. Quite clearly, risk shifting FROM the public sector is nice in theory, but awkward in practice. And at the end of the day, it seems the public sector is paying anyway – for the new trains ordered for Southern, etc, as stop-gap measures.

    So in trying to shift the risk, they’ve ended up with the cost of it anyway. As others have pointed out elsewhere, if it all goes pear-shaped, the government picks up the pieces anyway. Risk shifting contracts are only as good as the solvency of the second party. Siemens looks good, but they’ve got a partner in this project and the JV must be in a separate legal entity. That of course, can fall over without taking Siemens with it. So, there must be all sorts of guarantees needed to be built in. If major British banks can fall over to the point of rescue, if Lehmann Bros can collapse, etc, etc – what private sector player is immune?

    And the end of the day, maybe the NAO should be raking through that and asking whether the intention has been taken over by events? And thus recommend Osborne get the excheque-book out and deal with it.

  31. DW down under says:

    Reference has been made to several points in the discussion.

    1) Vehicle gauge: there would be a link to RSSB’s project T978 – suburban vehicle gauge. This project has not yet reported, although T977 Lower Sector Vehicle Gauge has produced a draft LSVG-8. RSSB has indicated that NR were willing to commit to the gauge, to simplify suburban vehicle procurement. There may be a link between the absence thus far of T978’s draft and the TL programme.

    2) 5-car 377 units for 10-car trains. This was questioned in the light of platform lengthening or lack of it. We must not forget that the 377 fleet is a generic fleet, which will serve terminal platforms as well as possibly be used as a stop-gap through the TL core. Once TL get their 245m trains, the 377s still need to be a useful fleet, and so would be aligned with available platform lengths for ongoing services south of t’River.

    3) The electrification programme is pretty full on into the 2020’s (CP6) so those tempted to think in terms of infill electrification ready for a cascade in the late 2010s should NOT hold their breath. The programme already outlined will stretch to the limit the available personnel with the necessary skills. Even if more was funded, it is unlikely to be physically possible to build it without using foreign contractors at exorbitant rates.

    4) If PoP can censor discussion about a certain sub-topic, then I’d ask that he act quickly to end any more references to Shakespeare and Italian history. John Bull, you’re forgiven. It was catchy, but Purley doesn’t contain all the Pedants in range!! 🙂

  32. answer=42 says:

    It is my understanding that commercial closure has occurred and that only financial closure is outstanding. Moreover, that further (but relatively short) delays have occurred since commercial closure. Care to comment?

    Also my understanding that at least the last two of the Southern orders are fulfilling existing options (perhaps on the first order, I’m not so clear on this point).

  33. Graham H says:

    For the TLK build, commercial close was around Easter last year and we were promised financial close in July 2012, then it was going to be in December, then March. These are serious delays and given the professional brain power likely to be crawling over the deal and the financial and political incentives to close the deal, one does wonder whether it is capable of being fixed at all.

  34. Greg Tingey says:

    If we in the ‘blogisphere’ (sorry!) can see this, why can’t the experts? We really just want someone to see the long-term bigger picture; man-up, grow a pair and make a decision!
    But, but MOST of the “experts” CAN seeit, but (again) THEY CAN ALWAYS BLAME SOMEONE ELSE.
    It’s a giant “game” of pass-the-parcel at someone else’s expense. Provided someone else is holding the baby when the music stops, why should they care?
    It is also a direct result of the fragmented structure that the Brit priovatisation has bequeathed us.
    To cure it, you will have to break that structure, and re-create railway companies, real railway companies &/or their nationalised/Lodonised equivalent.
    And, the real problem … the ultra-tory ideologues who created this privatisation deliberately set it up in such a way, as to make re-integration almost impssible, the bastards.
    Remember they wanted the railways to fail – since they had been waiting & conniving at total collapse since 1963/4 (see previous post-threads on the activities of Sherman, Serpell etc…) & it still hadn’t happened – so they gave it another push, hoping that this time, they’d be able to close the lot down ….
    [ See also DWdu’s comments, which are also appropriate. ]

  35. c says:

    Worth noting that 110mph running would also be possible on the ECML sections, surely?

    Might improve pathing through Welwyn too, given that the 365s max out at 100mph – if everything north of Welwyn GC was 110mph capable, could additional paths be identified – as was done on the WCML Project 110?

    Letchworth slows would all need to run via Hertford, as planned anyway I believe.

    And not just Welwyn, but also the trains which are fast to St Neots etc (if running through Thameslink) would certainly benefit if allowed to stay on the fast lines (maybe behind an intercity stopping at Stevenage) – and they could continue to nab some of the Peterborough market.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I think the BBC item about creation of 300 jobs at Hebburn is misleading. Siemens say that the jobs there will be manufacturing train components, not assembling trains – see, Ev 38.

    Siemens’ Hebburn facility is the Reyrolle switchgear plant – see – and it’s hard to see how a factory like that could turn out 1200 coaches, and with no current rail connection.

    So sending trains back will mean their going to Germany – somewhat more problematic.

  37. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Logical68 – in my experience there are plenty of people who can see the problems and the solution(s). We should not delude ourselves and think these big deals and projects are run by idiots. They are not. The real world can be phenomenally complicated especially where big money is concerned. Everyone has someone they’re accountable to and the different parties in these deals have their respective positions to protect. This is not some daft game as hinted at by others – it is the real world and would be little different if we had British Rail. They bought their track, signals and trains from outside parties and had to negotiate contracts and involve lawyers just like today. The issue is whether there is a reasonable compromise and agreement to be reached. There usually is but it usually needs people to be able to shift their positions a bit.

    Gvien, as Mr Hewett states, we have a 12-15month delay in achieving financial close then there must be something very serious causing that sort of delay. It is dangerous to speculate but I imagine it must be something to do with the cost / availability of finance or possibly guarantees related to that finance. The banks will always want a position whereby they get their money back in the event of dire circumstances arising. I also agree with Mr H that some serious brain power will be involved at this stage of the process so the lack of apparent progress is a genuine surprise. The “big brains” usually have the authority and influence to break through log jams and make things happen.

    @ Answer=42 – I thought there had to be some sort of contract option to allow these repeated non competitive procurements via Southern. TfL, of course, did something similar with the 378 fleet which was increased in length and increased in size over a period of 2-3 years without a new procurement being initiated (AFAIK). TfL had the benefit of having a project plan which including network expansion (bits of ELL extension) and a recognition of needing more capacity.

  38. ngh says:

    additional 377s (or other units) and future cascades etc.

    The 1st batch of extra 377s for the 10 car lengthening , is 26x 5 car units (377/6) and we might see the first in service in the autumn.

    The 2nd batch (377/7) dual voltage is 40cars so is that 8x 5 car or 10x 4car?
    WLL / Watford / MK route is mostly 8car (or less) platforms north of CLJ and increasing this from 4 car to 8 car is a franchise commitment like the 10car lengthening of certain LBG and VIC suburban services. So will the /7s be 4 car with some going to Thameslink presumably indirectly with the transfer of more 377/2 some of which currently operate the Watford / Milton Keynes route to Thameslink (Thameslink already have some 377/2 subleased from Southern).

    The 3rd batch (currently being tendered so could be bombardier, siemens, hitachi…), 116 vehicles which is only usefully divisible by 4. 4car presumably giving the most cascade options as only Southern and SWT have some 10car routes where 5 car units would make sense, everywhere else 4 car would probably be the most sensible (including Southeastern).

    Bombardier would make sense if short term compatibility is a big issue.
    But compatibility with other operator fleets after cascade might be judged more important.

    SWT are apparently looking for some more 450s (or something compatible) so Siemens could be in the lead there, but is 29 extra units more than they would want?
    Southern will still presumably be looking to get the 26? 377s sub-leased to Thameslink back at some point, which would allow them to retire the 313 or 442s but not both (assuming they didn’t lengthen any more services) but 29 more 4car units would allow them to retire both the 313 and 442s and lengthen a few services. But how many southern 377s will become spare post arrival of new Siemens 700 units and the transfer of some existing southern LBG terminating services to TL? i.e. would this allow southern to retire the 313 and 442s without the additional 29 units?

    Southeastern needs some additional rolling stock to lengthen services to 12 car so the 29 new units could go to Southeastern in the long term. Bombardier or Hitachi would make sense for a long term future with Southeastern, they could even be maintained with Southeastern’s existing arrangements with Hitachi / Bombardier in the short term until they are eventually released by Thameslink. As there won’t be that many “Southeastern” Thameslink services with the current plans they might need more than originally expected in the future?

    GA – might be interested in some more if they were 379s. (110mph being of particular interest.)
    FirstGW – 29 probably roughly half the number of EMUs to needed after electrification and crossrail services start.
    FCC – 29 units isn’t enough to replace the 365s.

    Any thoughts?

  39. ngh says:

    RE Walthamstow Writer 11:03AM, 11th June 2013

    Having some experience with energy project finance:

    a) I’m not surprised at delays at the moment, many bigger projects are getting delayed especially if there isn’t already a successful prior project to “copy”.

    b) The PF market has got worse since this structuring the purchase and maintenance was dreamed up with several more competitors effectively having closed to new business in the last 2 years not just in ’07/’08

    c) Siemens has it own bank (banking license held in Germany), but this is way to big and the contract period to long for it to finance. Siemens bank helps maintain Siemens’s credit rating 5-6 levels above the other train builders and theoretically giving it a big advantage.

    d) Several of the project finance banks (as the number of active players has massively shrunk) now believe they have too much exposure to other banks for them to be able to join the lending syndicates (consortia) with certain other banks for lending both overall or in certain specific sectors. Certain banks may consider themselves over exposed to projects involving Siemens across every industry.
    Hence they may have been able to get the first 3 banks to agree in principle relatively easily but getting the 4th/5th banks in the syndicate could be very tricky. This just isn’t about UK banking but worldwide as a mix of US, European Japanese and Australian banks would be involved.

    e) certain PF banks also have ROSCOs and they might be slightly miffed at the more lucrative (for them) post privatisation leasing model not being applied in the case the Thameslink rolling stock.

    The government at the outset presumed that the PF market would be competitive (for them) but now the banks are the ones with the all the power. You have to compete to get loans from the banks, and they get to pick and chose the T&Cs.

  40. DW down under says:

    It is my understanding the the first two tranches of extra trains were options on existing contracts with Bombardier. The third isn’t an option on an existing contract, so has to go to competitive tendering.

    It would be ironic if Siemens tendered their Desiro City for that contract, and won. Thereby using the stop-gap measure to get on with the prototyping for Thameslink. It’s certainly one way around the current road-block.

    But like I stated above, you reach a point where the returns on a risk-shifting policy start diminshing beyond any net realisable benefit. There must be a realisation that this point is drawing nigh.

  41. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Worth noting that 110mph running would also be possible on the ECML sections, surely?

    Absolutely. Just that my mindset still thinks of Thameslink north of the river as StP to Bedford. I should have said north of St Pancras.

    @Anonymous 08:57

    The sources on the internet that you reference suggest you are correct. From memory though, I thought that Siemens had promised that they would be setting up an assembly plant in the north to put the trains together. At the time people were protesting that it was not the same as building it here and would not generate nearly as many jobs.

    @DW down under

    4) If PoP can censor discussion about a certain sub-topic, then I’d ask that he act quickly to end any more references to Shakespeare and Italian history. John Bull, you’re forgiven. It was catchy, but Purley doesn’t contain all the Pedants in range!!

    On the basis of my understanding of the definition of what censorship is, there has been no censorship whatsoever. Suppressing something because we hear the same opinion expressed at every opportunity whether relevant or not and it is getting rather frustrating is not, as I understand it, censorship. In fact I would suggest quite the reverse – we were probably unduly lax in letting a minor topic like this dominate the comments without restriction to the extent it did. We could hardly have been reasonably accused of suppressing the subject. Quite the opposite. Giving it far too much airing in fact.

    If you want to continue to air that or any other subject in more depth than is really appropriate here then I would suggest that the logical thing to do is set up your own blog and when relevant write a short posting including a link to your blog. I can assure you we would not suppress that and I would argue that it is better netiquette anyway. stephenc and Ian S are two examples of people who do this to good effect.

  42. DW down under says:

    To throw a completely different concept into the ideas ring: one factor limiting Britain’s ability to readily procure rolling stock is the constricted gauging environment.

    Has Britain reached the point where it would be cost-effective to upgrade route-by-route to a fairly common UIC/Berne gauge (eg GB, GB+, or even GC) and buy off-the-peg European products? It would widen the range of prospective suppliers (though some might struggle to pre-qualify …. Ans—- – ——-a?? ). Routes like TL wouldn’t qualify – too expensive to remodel the tunnel and sub-surface sections, and likely also stations like LB. But Chiltern, GWML, GEML, WAML, LT&S #might# be candidates. It would also mean greater opportunity to lease on a pan-European “spot market.”

    Could the GOBLIN be cleared enough for surplus German regional DMUs?

    The quid-pro-quo of course would be that British products were equally suited to the European high-platform market.

  43. DW down under says:

    Final one for tonight (Tasmania time): seeing as we are on the topic of TL train procurement, may I suggest that we are nearing a point of departure:

    – hitherto electric suburban/interurban trains have been made up of one or more units, run in multiple. With TL and CR both now planning for indivisible trains, to describe them as EMUs would be in error. Indeed, I don’t think it’s clear whether couplers fitted would be for full MU or just emergency recovery connections.

    I propose for indivisible electric trains with distributed power, we use the term “Electric Train Unit” or ETU.

  44. RayL says:

    Is there a place on the web where the various train types (313, 442, 365, 379, 450, etc) can be seen and the differences made clear? Living in the Southern / Thameslink area there are a wide variety of train types used (last evening I travelled on a London Bridge to East Croydon service in a 4-coach diesel unit which proclaimed itself to be a Turbostar on the overhead display). The discussion above would make a lot more sense if one could flip to a screen with the different train types pictured and described.

    Come to think of it, a list of the abbreviations used by ‘LR’ contributors would solve a few mysteries as well!

  45. Anonymous says:


    Most of these are illustrated well on Wikipedia (just Google “Class XXX” – usual caveats about reliability), but basically-

    The train you used yesterday would have been a Class 171 diesel, used on the London – Uckfield line (the Oxted – Uckfield section is one of only two routes operated by Southern which is not electrified). They are similar in appearance to the newer Class 172s used on the Goblin, (and the Class 170s seen in many other parts of the country) and are essentially a diesel variant of the Class 357, 375-379 Electrostar range, of which the Class 377 is now standard Southern fare. (357 is the version used on C2C, 375 and 376 by South Eastern, 378 by Overground and 379 by Anglia on the Stansted Express)

    Class 442 are the former Wessex Express units dating from the late 1980s (with traction equipment recovered from the 1967 Bournemouth units) now used on Gatwick Express runs, having replaced the Class 460 “Darth Vader” units which are now being rebuilt to make SWT’s class 458s on the Reading line up from 4 car to 5 car.

    Class 313 are the dual voltage units originally built in the ’70s for the Moorgate to Welwyn/Hertford services, but later also used on what is now the London Overground, from where some of them have now migrated to the Sothern’s Coastway services. Classes 314, 315, 507 and 508 are similar, but only Class 315 operates in London (on the Great Eastern lines)

    Class 365 were the last trains ordered by the nationalised British Rail, and work Kings cross- Cambridge/peterborough services. They look similar to South Eastern’s middle-distance Class 465/466 units.

    Class 450 are SWT’s outer suburban (blue) “Desiro” sets – there are also similar classes 444 (SWT white “Express” sets), 350 (London Midland) and 360 (Anglia and Heathrow Connect)

    Southern also operates class 455 (4 car) and 456 (2 car) sets on suburban duties. SWT also has 455s, and will shortly acquire the 456s from Southern. Thameslink’s class 319 is a dual voltage version. AC-only Classes 317-322 are also from the same family

  46. john b says:

    RayL – yes.

    Interesting discussion. Only thing I’d add is that I doubt we’ll see 313s or 442s being retired any time soon. The wholesale scrapping of 30-40 year old trains that led to the current unit mix south of London was on Mk1-replacement safety grounds – prior to that, trains on the Southern scraped along for 50-60 years (or at least, parts of them did), and there’s no real reason that can’t continue in the context of a nationwide electrification campaign.

  47. mr_jrt says:

    @John B

    Tell that to the bods down in Eastleigh who are currently scrapping DC-only class 508s…

  48. Milton Clevedon says:

    Read all of this, ended up with headache, lost the thread of the main arguments.

    Please tell me I’m wrong:
    * arcane risk-shifting that in the end doesn’t go very far way, and may cost more
    * meanwhile programme delivery looking dire
    * and stock-cascades up the creek without a lot of paddle.

    I don’t know why I’m bothered, but just thought about the CP5 ‘Electric Spine’ – big political priority.
    Sounds like the ‘Electric Knees-up’ may be asking too much with train wheeler-dealing?
    Who will build or indeed afford / BCR-justify such trains (freight as well as passenger)?

    Big thought (or question, more accurately) is therefore:
    * why doesn’t someone pay out for continuous production-line go-anywhere electric kit based on what already exists?
    * 350/x, 377/x, etc, does it matter? Thought the whole point of a big order was to fix a low price for a quality train?
    * doesn’t sound like there’s the remotest chance of that, now.

    Paying £1.25-£1.5m per 72-seater (or whatever) carriage is a lot! Why can’t it be far cheaper with volume build, wasn’t that what Chris Green was aiming for with NSE? Really don’t understand why that’s too difficult, and sounds like there will always be a market for them (providing you don’t price just around the indifference curve…)?

    Alternative question, if we are into keeping/refurbishing old kit until it is age 60+ (and longer for a pensionable existence these days), what are the best options going forwards?

  49. RayL says:

    @Anonymous, john b
    Thanks for pointing me to the relevent article on train types – and of course the ‘Wikipedia effect’ took over and I spent the next hour reading and hyperlinking to other interesting topics!

  50. Mark Townend says:

    @DW down under, 01:28PM, 11th June 2013

    ‘Could the GOBLIN be cleared enough for surplus German regional DMUs?’

    An interesting idea. Additional clearance work might be carried out at the same time as OHLE erection and could provide a continental gauge freight route between HS1 at Barking and potential freight terminals in the Willesden area of North London, eventually extending further along a gauge cleared WCML to parts of the Midlands and North. Between Gospel Oak and Willesden however, Hampstead Heath tunnel would be a big problem though, perhaps needing a supplementary parallel bore alongside it, and the perennial incompatibility between uk platfroms and continental stock would remain unless the entire North London part of the LO network was converted to German platform height and clearance!

  51. peezedtee says:

    On the subject of EMU stock cascades. Does anyone know what is happening to the Heathrow Connect fleet when that service is absorbed into Crossrail? I know there are only 4 of them but every little helps.

  52. Logical68 says:

    @Walthamstow Writer

    …”in my experience there are plenty of people who can see the problems and the solution(s). We should not delude ourselves and think these big deals and projects are run by idiots.”…

    I wouldn’t dream of it, nor implied it. I merely indulged myself with a bit of rhetorical prose borne from frustration, please accept my apologies if this offended or detracted from the thread.

    Being long enough in the tooth and having worked in both private and public sectors, I have seen some spectacular behind-covering over the years.

    As Greg Tingey expands on (06:57AM, 11th June 2013), the current franchise set-up at times (not always) seems to be a product of the worst of both private and public sectors.

    With so many behinds to cover, so many shareholders to please and so many voters to placate as you know, it will take a very brave politician and/or TOC CEO to stick their head(s) above the parapet, push for or take a decision and take the flak.

    Until the solution is found, as you say, “it is dangerous to speculate” on the reasons for delay, but no less frustrating.

  53. stimarco says:

    @Milton Clevedon:

    “Paying £1.25-£1.5m per 72-seater (or whatever) carriage is a lot! “

    Not really. It sounds like a lot, but this isn’t a car you’re buying: A train can have a service life of well over 50-60 years. Nobody except a collector keeps a car that long. Look at how much a new Boeing 787, or an Airbus A380 costs.

    The reason major airlines are happy to pay so much money for them is because they know they’ll get at least 20 years’ work from each one. If each passenger in an Airbus A380 is paying just $100 per ticket, that’s $50,000 per trip of revenue right there. (And it’s much higher than that once you include the tickets paid for by the First Class and Business Class passengers. I’m assuming an all-standard-class layout.)

    An A380 (a long-haul craft) will typically make at least one return flight a day, so that’s $100K per day—often more over shorter trips. Say half a million dollars / week. Even allowing for fuel, maintenance, crew costs, etc., An A380 or 787 will usually pay for itself in only a few years. After that, it’s profit.

    Trains can remain in service for well over twice that, and do so as a matter of routine. This is why ROSCOs don’t mind arranging to buy entire fleets of trains for TOCs: they know they’ll make their money back, and then some.

    £1.5 million, spread over a 40-year life, works out to just £37.5K a year. A typical railway carriage on the Charing Cross routes will earn that much in about a week. It’d take a lot longer to make its cost back if it were limited to a rural branch line, which is why such lines tend to get hand-me-downs from the big cities.

  54. Anon @ 0857 again says:


    Since Siemens are saying that they will assemble componentry (not trains) at Hebburn and they haven’t actually got the facilities to assemble any trains there, let alone 1200 cars of new and untested design, in the best traditions of pedantry can I suggest that the definitive statement in the article that they will be assembled at Hebburn be modified?

  55. DW down under says:

    @ Mark T: I would suggest that London would only be interested in the high-platform (750-770mm) Euro stock. Their floor heights are not dissimilar to existing British trains, so minor step modification should be sufficient – subject to detailed analysis on a class-by-class basis.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that much Euro stock is actually only about 2.8m wide, and with a single-deck DMU didn’t need to be built out to the full height available in the loading gauge. So the level of tweaking, or speed restrictions (or relay of track in tunnels to paved concrete) could end up being minimal.

  56. DW down under says:

    @jrt, @johnb. Only a couple of vehicles being disposed. Two going elsewhere (oop North). Some on a project. Rest in limbo.

  57. Littlejohn says:

    @ stimarco 11:58PM, 11th June 2013.

    Broadly, what you say is correct although some of the costings need qualifying. An A380 can seat up to 644 (Emirates, 2-class) or 840 (Austral, planned all-economy) so with 100% load-factors the gross income would be much more than you say. Of course, planes are never full but basically the more seats the more bums sitting on them if the route has sufficient demand. Also the bigger the passenger load, the lower the proportional cost per passenger of navigation, landing fees etc. On the other hand, maintenance and the associated down-time can be frighteningly expensive (a C Check can use up a couple of years’ profit) and no-one ever pays list price for an aeroplane; I sometimes think manufacturers just quote inflated prices so they can knock off a big discount in a bidding war.

    On the subject of stock classes, of general interest is that the prototype Sprinters are working Basingstoke – Reading. I had a ride on 150 001 a couple of months ago

  58. Mark Townend says:

    @DW down under, 04:23AM, 12th June 2013

    You could be right about european stock. Heres a good view on the Nene Valley Railway showing a BR standard hauling a set of their fairly old continental stock, which I believe is Danish.

    The cars look no taller, nor significantly wider than the the loco overall, although as expected seem a little wider around the platform level, where the British gauge usually narrows. Other than huge international sleeping and seater vehicles and double deckers built right out to the max, I remember much older domestic passenger stock in northern and central europe being similarly modest in their dimensions.

  59. Anonymous says:

    Interesting article (dated 1992) on gauge differences

  60. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Logical68 – no need for an apology and nothing personal with what you have said. I do tire, ever so slightly, of reading the remarks from a number of people that those tasked with doing the hard work of drawing up contracts, reaching agreement, managing projects et al are incompetent, useless and devoid of an ounce of sense. It’s incredibly easy to carp from the sidelines when you have none of the responsibility or accountability.

    @Milton C – Your remarks about efficient procurement and low prices from “bulk orders” are prescient. This is one of the arguments TfL are putting forward to Government about having a strategy and the funding for long term programmes of work like line upgrades. If the market knows there is money and work for 10-15 years then they can plan better, offer good prices and make a profit. They can also commit to investment and product development. We had a brief period post 2000 when the tube sort of had a level of funding certainty and the 5 year control periods on NR give some stability once the scope of works is confirmed. However LU is now veering back to annualised funding which is clearly causing some despair at TfL Towers. You can’t plan anything substantive if the money is going to be turned off every couple of years. When I was a project client I became hugely adept at working out how to reduce budgets and create alternative scenarios for spend and benefit / cost ratios. Whether that was the best use of my time and expertise is a different question.

    It’s perfectly clear that the French have it right – Sir Peter Hendy was clearly a tad “jealous”, when in front of the Assembly TC, about Paris having secured a 30 year investment settlement. That sort of commitment brings all sorts of benefits. Perhaps we can dream that one day the UK might be able to commit to 10 or 15 year funding settlements?

    On the airline examples there is also the revenue from carrying cargo alongside passengers to bolster what an individual jet can earn over its lifetime.

  61. Milton Clevedon says:

    Thanks to both stimarco and walthamstow writer for their comments. Maybe some passenger train routes could still carry high value parcels and earn a tad more!

    I failed in my despairing query (5:31PM, 11th June 2013) to roll in what I see as potentially high costs (if leased not bought outright) of annual large-scale(?) ROSCO profit margins, alongside daily, weekly and longer maintenance requirements and ¼/½/¾ life renewals. And no doubt some other things over time, both teccy and, separately, passenger oriented, which might add value?

    In other words, the trains are far from free after you get them delivered, whenever that is. If the procurer (Govt?) has also thrown in the funding requirements for depots, and no doubt countless risk factors that Treasury tries to offload, then to me it could be noticeably expensive on an annualised whole-life basis.

    All very well if you earn Intercity levels of fares, far less so for other railways (as Stimarco has noted). What’s the net income from an Oyster card holder from Wimbledon to Vauxhall – £1, £1.50, £2? Not x100 as in airline terms.

    Believe it it or not, London Transport started off ordering a typical car of 1938 tube stock as £5,000 (full stop, not +m or +bn attached). They actually got it wrong as they ended up somewhat pricier (no-one allowed for pre-war inflation), but basically a slab of metal on uncomplicated bogies (someone will tell me otherwise) and little onboard tech, didn’t cost a lot in pre-war money. And they wanted more than a thousand of them.

    Unless tubes take to the air, the most interesting comprisons to me will be buses, trams – or even, yes, PRT and monorails (Warning of thread divergence here!) Part of the core equation for public transport is that it should be cheaper to buy en masse for the mass travel requirements. So far, the TLK saga is really worrying me, and particularly that DfT Rail Division may be losing the overall strategic focus.

  62. Anonymous says:

    A knockout article – thanks for sharing it. Ignore the pedants.

    As someone on the receiving end of contract shenanigans from another government department, I regret that there is a mix of the very good who try and make the system work, and the genuinely incompetent who don’t understand their own procurement rules nor the pace of work in the commercial work. As you say, responsibility and accountability are the sticking points in our current system.

    Is ‘scandalous’ too strong a word? Probably not, since we’re looking at tens of millions of pounds unnecessarily spent due to contractual befuddlement.

    Look forward to part three.

  63. Graham H says:

    @Milton Clevedon – I was very interested in that £5000 figure for the 1938 stock. By way of an – unamusing – pendant to that, at the time the Board was ordering the 365s and 465s at about £1m a car, the then Chairman asked me what we had paid for the slam door stock – about £12500 per car in the ’50s, equivalent to probably about £15000-200 000 at mid ’90s prices; when I explained this, his next question was, of course, what we had got for the £800 000 extra. The short answer is aircon and a lot of diagnostic software – and a significantly lower reliability.

    One often overlooked factor in boosting ROSCO costs (and indeed industry costs generally, is insurance. In state owned days, insurance was covered by a BR-owned subsidiary, whose premiums (ie cost to the operating side of the business) were based on meeting the cash flow consequences of any accident (ie actual cost of repair). Catastrophe insurance was covered from the Board’s daily cash flow. In the private sector, of course, the premiums that the ROSCOs and others pay are calculated on a conservative, predictive, actuarial basis and include significant elements for profit and administration. There is also the additional problem – a particular problem for rolling stock – that in the “bad old days”, a minor knock between two trains would have simply led to the stock being taken into the works and repaired at cost; now, the same sort of incident becomes an insurance claim which can easily require the relevant kit to be taken out of use while the assessors crawl over it and the lawyers fight over who might have been responsibility. As the rail insurance adviser at AoN remarked to me, the insurance industry sees trains as “two walls of money moving towards each other.” No further comment seems necessary…

  64. DW down under says:

    Anonymous @ 02:29PM, 12th June 2013: “Interesting article (dated 1992) on gauge differences

    Thanks for that. Sadly, the diagrams didn’t come up. But the key point was the 2.825mm width of UIC 26m passenger cars. While Germany had more generous loading gauges than France, nonethless, I suspect the majority of DMUs to be 2825mm wide (that’s 5mm wider than PEP and MkIII suburbans) but unlikely to be the full 26m long due to the mass of diesel engines, transmissions and fuel.

    The other area of risk is the cantrail width – but as the GOBLIN is a freight route, any improvements in clearance at cantrail height would be beneficial to all NR clients.

    I haven’t gone through class by class, as this analysis would need to be conducted at the time a contract was approaching renewal in Europe – to see whether the incumbent’s vehicles were suitable.

  65. @Anon @ 0857 again

    I have pandered to the pedants [never thought I would be writing that] and modified the comment on assembly of the Siemens trains. I now realise I was confusing the Siemens Thameslink order with the Hitachi IEP one. In the latter case they will be assembling them here in new factory.


    I have also modified the 110 mph comment to include the ECML

    @Milton Clivedon

    It might cheer you up but probably won’t if I told you that it might be only million pounds per carriage. If you assume £200 million for each depot then that means only £1.2 billion spent on trains which is a £1 million per carriage. I used the ridiculously low figure to show that even if you chose the least favourable case scenario Siemens still works out a lot cheaper.

    @Graham H

    I can understand your feeling regarding cost of carriages and don’t doubt insurance is a factor. Its not just the railways. The MoD is the same. When I was young and misguidedly allowed to drive a nice new zippy air-portable land rover, as opposed to the rubbish vehicles that I previously had been let loose on, I pressed the accelerator and was rather surprised when the thing actually zoomed forward. So surprised in fact that I temporarily lost my senses and forgot to press hard on the brake. Actually I remembered to do this but forgot to transfer my foot from the accelerator to the brake before doing so. So a bit of a prang on a nice new vehicle but it didn’t look so nice now. Muttering from others about if the chassis was damaged it would have to be written off. To make my life more miserable the Military Transport Officer happened to be the RSM. When seeing him on another matter he repeated my name. “Vehicle Accident wasn’t it ?” Then that awful look you get from the RSM. “Do you know how much that cost to repair ?” he bellowed out. “Six pounds!”. Turned out the MoD then took the attitude that the REME boys who repaired it had to be paid anyway and it was good training. The only cost that got itemised was the oxy-acetylene gas used to do the repair.

    The MoD now has a commercial insurance contract, none of this deposit £30,000 with the Ministry of Transport stuff as an alternative to insurance anymore, and no doubt my prang would have cost hundreds of pounds to fix for the reasons you give.

    We do get more than sliding doors and air-conditioning compared to old stock. We understand track forces a lot better and spend a lot of money on bogies because in the end it is an economy because it is cheaper than having to replace the track. We understand the true cost of a part breaking down so parts are specified to a higher standard. We recognise the saving that can be made, like in the airline business, if we spend more on seats but make them as light as possible. We mount cameras on the side which is expensive but nowhere near as expensive as putting monitors on every platform or having a guard when we can do without one. We use regenerative braking which is an expensive capital cost but again more than pays for itself over the life of the train. There is a lot of crash-protection built into the shell of the train which reduces fatalities, injuries and claims in the event of a crash. More important, in the event of a crash, it helps preserve the justified perspective that railways are safe. If people perceive otherwise then they will desert they railways, at least temporarily, after an accident and the cost in lost revenue will be enormous. Like cars the shells are now built so they don’t rust. Again expensive initially but cost effective over the lifetime of the train. I could go on.

    In short, when considering the total cost of ownership over a lifetime it is more cost effective to build expensive trains.

  66. Milton Clevedon says:

    Thanks PoP. Sounds like getting greater longevity from pricey trains might also be good value (subject of course to half-life upgrading etc). That way at least your starter money stretches further. Many passengers would think that an improved and refurbished train is a new one. However I appreciate that changing widgetry and wiring is not cheap.

  67. DW down under says:

    Graham H. Of course, the one OTHER thing you got was power doors, which equals both increased safety and reduced likelihood of pax detraining onto 3rd rail tracks – requiring the whole lot to be shut down.

  68. P Dan TIck says:

    Thank you Shakespeare scholars for roundly sorting out my ignorance. My English Literature (sub-section Shakespeare) education was a typical (Daily Mail please note) Grammar School education of the 1960s, ie we did Julius Caesar and Twelfth Night and all the rest was darkness. Similar to my History education where two centuries at a times were left out!

  69. Greg Tingey says:

    Milton Clevedon
    No. The DafT “Rail division” have lost the plot, totally & completely, in spite of one or two internal experts telling them … they are ignoring their own expertise & running amok with totally impractical “ideas” (like iep …)
    See also Anon @ 21.47 there is a mix of the very good who try and make the system work, and the genuinely incompetent who don’t understand their own procurement rules nor the pace of work in the commercial work.
    That’s it, exactly.

    P. Dan Tick
    Me no Shakespeare scholar (King Henry IV ptI for “O” level … )but I’ve been to one or two plays & have the complete sonnets, as well as the plays in separate volumes. … I found a really good second-hand bookshop deal for the Folio set – most useful & decorative.

  70. Graham H says:

    @PoP – I entirely take your point about whole life costing; the only problem seems to be that whole life costing is something that really seems to have been properly understood in the last decade or two, whereas the big ramp up in rolling stock costs seems to date from the late seventies. I’m not wholly convinced that reduced ,maintenance costs are the full explanation – modern fleets have, if anything, availabilities at or slightly below that of the traditional kit and the VEPs had managed to achieve MTBF figures that were getting on for double the performance of their replacements. Part of the explanation may be that modern accounting techniques add in a lot more cost to what was produced “cheaply” by state-owned firms.

  71. Fandroid says:

    I most definitely accept that those involved in the procurement of projects like Thameslink are not idiots, and even better than that, are really expert at what they are doing. However, the environment they are working in is likely to create many opportunities for money-wasting. The procurement team will have little control over the franchising. Indeed, that section has been dramatically reorganised recently after the West Coast Fiasco (perhaps there is room for criticism of the management of that). One problem is that they are ultimately working for politicians, and the latter are always seeking tweaks and ‘minor’ changes and reviews, all with the aim of ‘improvement’, without realising that all this tweakery and flexibility is actually very costly. The Thameslink project very definitely looks like one of those. The IEP project was definitely one of those.

    It’s a trade-off. Having a finance-build-maintain contract for rolling stock is absolutely fine for transferring the maintenance risk and to get the right balance between build quality and reliability. But you encourage a higher price if the uncertainty about their future use is significant.

    The whole project itself is not unified. Network Rail and DfT seem to be working together quite well, but they are relying on cooperation, not the discipline of a unified management. Outside all that of course is the appointment of an operator, which dogma says must be part of the overall franchise re-letting scheme, by yet another party (the post West Coast team). It’s a bit boring to say it again, but look at Crossrail. A unified structure controlling all aspects of the project, including both train procurement and operator appointment. That was set up using the tried and tested (over about 200 years) system of a private bill in Parliament. That was when the politicians and everyone else had their opportunity to request/comment/object, and the content was legally fixed.

  72. Fandroid says:

    My vague experience of German DMUs is that the door cills are very high off the platforms, and that’s for a platform height which is greater than ours. Their EMUs, in comparison, often have door-cills level with the platforms. It seems as if the DMUs have all the traction equipment beneath the floor (like ours, but being more generous with space) and the EMUs put much of the electrical stuff on the roof.

    I recently was on the Munich S-Bahn and thought how nice it would be to have such lovely (Alstom) units on UK railways. they didn’t seem to be especially wide.

  73. DW down under says:

    @ Fandroid. Did a bit of web-search on German platform heights. For S-bahns, it seems that 960mm is quite common. New main line is mainly 760mm. There is some very limited use of 1200mm. Still a lot of 550mm or lower.

    Hamburg for example has 760mm and 960mm.

    I would expect DMUs to be set up for either 760mm or 960mm. The latter would, of course, be close to ideal.

    Bombardier’s “Talent” units are available with entrance heights of 600mm and 800mm – corresponding to the 550mm and 760mm platform heights.

    When I tried a search on German DMUs, very little hard data was available. A lot of modern split level units have been designed for low platforms, even below 550mm, going by the pictures. But no hard data on entrance/floor heights.

  74. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Looks like financial close has been achieved with Siemens as the “stand still” period has commenced according to this rather overblown and hysterical article from the Torygraph. Why anyone with a brain imagined Bombardier had any chance I do not know?!!

    [Minor correction to link made. PoP]

  75. Greg Tingey says:

    Confirm that see HERE for details.
    [Correction now applied to previous link. Thanks.  PoP]

    Nothing on the Beeb main web-site as yet…..

  76. Graham H says:

    Odd, though, that there is no press release so far from either Siemens or DfT on the point.

  77. Fleetline says:

    Some points in the reply to article and comments…

    Seems the article is confused. The yet to be placed order is for dual voltage 100mph FOUR car units. Four car as 116 carriages in five car (like suggested) would mean 23.2 train. No-one is going to order that. However 116 makes a nice round 29 units with the full 256 making 64 units which is the exact amount of 319’s planned to go to NW/GW as part of the electrification schemes. I can’t remember if I emailed the document showing to to John or not.

    As to where these units will go, well with Transpennie and MML needing some electric stock that these trains will be suitable, there no chance they will sit rusting in sidings.

    Hebburn is for parts, not units. Crewe is also planned to do the mid life upgrades. And any major repair work post completion of the fleet.

    The 377/7 are DV units planned to be used on Metro DC routes to allow some 377/2 to go to Thameslink to join 207/211/212. Note the Milton Keynes service stays with the remaining Southern 377/2’s.

    SWT is looking into getting some 40 new shiny five car Desiro Cities (gangwayed version).

    Bombardier is rumoured to be testing the 379’s on the WCML between Crewe and Rugby shortly. Although GA have said no 379 is off for testing so it could be done with a 377/7.

    Why need ETU, you could have EFF or Electric Fixed Formation.

    As for comments over sighting issue with the new class 700, completely unfounded crap I’m afraid.

    As is comment I’m working for Siemens in some way. Another mistake but you getting colder I’m afraid Graham.

  78. DW down under says:

    @ GT, WW: The whole article makes no sense to me. That was news 3 years or so ago. The only news, if I read it correctly, is that financial close has been reached. The usual BS about 1400 jobs, etc. Do I understand correctly that Bombardier had announced a cut of 1000 even before the announcement that Siemens had won the tender.

    I would have thought the ONLY way that Bombardier could get the contract was if Siemens walked away. And that doesn’t seem likely.

  79. Graham H says:

    @fleetline I don’t think anything I said could possibly imply that you work for Siemens. My English is very clear. Perhaps it was someone else you had in mind? There are a good many Grahams about on this forum.

  80. DW down under says:

    Re: the Telegraph article: I read the comments. Having just looked at German platform heights and DMUs, I did note that there were French built DMUs running in Germany. It’s folly to suggest that manufacturers based in other EU countries don’t get a look in on German orders.

    @Fleetline. The Telegraph article makes clear that it’s referring to the Thameslink contract. To what are you responding with regard to the build of 29 four-car units? Has the third tranche of interim orders, which had gone to competitive tender already been awarded?

    In what context is SWT looking at the Desiro City. Have they got DfT approval in principle? And how can they be confident that the winner of any competitive tender would be Siemens, any more than say Hitachi or Adler or Alstom or the Canadians?

    We know you don’t work for Siemens. That’s OK. But you seem to work closely with the Thameslink project team, and that’s all we need to know.

    Finally, I thought ETU had a certain resonance with EMU, whereas EFF sounds like it wants to be linked to OFF.

  81. Fleetline says:

    @ Graham,

    Your the one stating that in other forum what I put. I don’t want to continue playing your games, so will leave you to ponder as you’ve been proven wrong on various occasions.

    @ DW

    I never mentioned the Telegraph. I’m talking about this article where POP states….

    “On the third time round things will have to be done properly according to new rules. So there will be a specification and train builder invited to quote. In this modern world we live in it is not possible for Southern or the DfT to decide that, with very good reason, what they want is a few more class 377 trains and invite Bombardier to put a quote in for that. It has to go out to competitive tender and for that there has to be a specification that specifies what is required. Very fortunately for Bombardier the specification calls for 5-car units”

    There is no spec for 5 car 110mph units yet to be ordered. The point is the deal is for four car units. Try forming 5 car trains from 116 carriages. The units are to inter work with the current 377’s on Thameslink meaning inter working of same length is required which also handly means Bombardier/Derby get the work. Seems to be POP confusing the 377/6 & /7 orders with the next tender.

    However trying to find out the state of the order is difficult. I’d suggest its been placed with Southern to avoid DfT having to talk about it (ie FOI). Southern certainly aren’t talking about it.

    However the point of the Herne Hill diverations and needing more rolling stock. Well the DfT has a solution to that without requiring any additional rolling stock required. Its just other matters means they aren’t currently talking about that timetable change just yet.

    The context of how SWT are looking at Desiro Cities, look to Roger Ford’s comments. However its not a new thing, I’ve been aware for at least two years. No-one can be 100% sure but if the tender is written correctly. That said the 458/5 will work with the 450/444 fleets in a way.

    And IIRC correct the lost of Thameslink contract meant 300 jobs were lost and the remaining were going any way due to Bombardier not getting new orders, not because it bet the business on winning Thameslink (surely if this was the case Bombardier’s management business plan is seriously flawed). Not that the reaction to Siemens winning actaully was based on what insiders stated. Seems the Derby camp jumped on the insiders saying Siemens was cheaper due to credit rating (with questions asked about a entire digit being missing) but ‘strangely’ brushed under the carpet the techincal team stated the Siemens offer was ahead of the Bombardier. Funny that.

    I would like to say more but I can’t. Just know that there are hints in the comments as to why there were delays in the first place. I hope NAO can say what I can’t once the deals done. In fact if one commentator is to believed, he has caused some of the delay.

    ETU just makes me think Euro Tunnel. But your right EFF and OFF are very similar!

  82. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Fleetline 12:07AM, 14th June – Since I am a frequent commentator on LR but NOT the “Graham” to whom you have addressed your complaint, it would be appreciated if you would take some care in identifying the “Graham” you actually have in mind. Thank you – from, for the avoidance of doubt – Graham Feakins.

  83. @Fleetline

    Thanks for the insight into various things. On some of the points you raise:

    5-car units in future order.

    Yes I got confused between the various two orders being referred to in one press release. I misread the 5-car units as applying to the initial 100 cars in the yet-to-be-confirmed tender. Obviously it not would have applied to the subsequent option for 116 cars. In fact it referred to the 40 cars in the order made in December 2012. I have deleted the relevant two paragraphs. Thanks for that.

    As to where these units will go, well with Transpennine and MML needing some electric stock that these trains will be suitable, there no chance they will sit rusting in sidings.

    I don’t seriously believe there is any realistic chance of them ending up rusting in sidings for the reasons you state. But the comment was made in the context of risk. Often one takes on risk on things that one believes won’t happen but conceivably might do. And it wouldn’t be the first time on our privatised railway that services are overcrowded when perfectly good usable appropriate rolling stock sitting rusting in sidings elsewhere in the country. Whether it is believed that something has any chance of happening or not is irrelevant. At the end of the day the risk has to be assigned to someone.

    Note also that I am only raising an issue that the NAO report itself raised.

    Siemens building trains in the UK

    In the past 24 hours I modified this text to imply that the BBC report was wrong. It is very strange the BBC didn’t update it though. I am leaving it as it stands.

    However the point of the Herne Hill diversions and needing more rolling stock. Well the DfT has a solution to that without requiring any additional rolling stock required. Its just other matters means they aren’t currently talking about that timetable change just yet.

    Interesting to know. Obviously as I can’t be told what the solution is I can’t comment in detail but it does not alter the fact that they cannot run the existing timetable with the Herne Hill diversions due to a lack of rolling stock (which was the point I was trying to make) and this was effectively stated by the DfT themselves in the Thameslink franchise consultation document.

  84. Anon at 0857 again says:


    I imagine that the BBC hasn’t updated its piece incorrectly locating the assembly Thameslink stock at Hebburn because it has higher priorities than going back to change two-year-old news items.

  85. Graham H says:

    Actually, fleetline told us all in that “other place” that he didn’t work for Siemens so no one is suggesting or has suggested that he does.

    Moving on to the substance of things, letting the 377 procurement go through Southern steps around EU procurement rules as a TOC is not a public body and therefore is not obliged to go out to competitive tender. This is more likely than an attempt to circumvent the FOI legislation as all of DfT’s material relating to the decision to launder the deal through Southern is, in principle, discoverable.

  86. Fandroid says:

    DW. Just to clarify on the German DMUs. The units I was thinking of ran on the Franken-Sachsen expresses between Dresden and Nuremberg. For one thing it’s possible that the platform heights at Dresden Hbf were lower than the norm. I have also been on DMUs at Cologne recently. These were running on local RB services. My mildly defective memory tells me that there was no step between platform and DMU floor there, just the same as the local S-Bahn EMUs.

    Anyone who follows other European railways will know that there are units being bought for service in Germany that have been built in other European countries. These are mostly procured by the regional transport associations and not by DB. The difference in Germany is that they have have least three train assembly plants there including subsidiaries of non-German companies, so asking for local assembly is not a barrier to true competition, nor a hurdle that outsiders find difficult to jump (like in the over-globalised UK).

    I’m not sure if you spotted it but Hamburg S-Bahn is a separate system, not using the main line at all, unlike most other German cities (except, of course, Berlin).

  87. Fandroid says:

    I just love the bit in the Telegraph article about how the Derby works survived a Zeppelin raid in 1916! Some people (and papers) are not just still fighting the last big war, but the one before it as well.

  88. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Anon at 0857 again

    I meant at the time. BBC news articles often get updated on the day of publication once a mistake is pointed out. It is curious that this one didn’t.

  89. Walthamstow Writer says:

    PoP – thanks for correcting the link

    Graham H – there is a DfT announcement now.

  90. Graham H says:

    Thanks. All we need now is to see the timetable for testing and delivery – I imagine DfT will have nothing to say on that.

  91. ngh says:

    Re the 3rd tranche for 116 (=29×4) cars (I originally raised the 4 vs 5 car in my post

    If Siemens are busy struggling to make 1140 cars (is this a change from previously?) of new Thameslink units in time surely this makes it easier for Bombardier to get the job if a very tight deadline was set so they were the only company that could sensibly deliver?

  92. Gio says:

    As of 3pm ish on Friday 14 June – “Bombardier blow as Siemens wins £1.6bn Thameslink deal”

  93. Paul says:

    1140 is a fair reduction (about a 12.5% reduction?) from what was usually described as ‘up to 1300’ vehicles, for example in the original 2008 DfT ‘rolling stock plan’…

    (I wonder how that plan turned out after all these years…)

  94. Paul says:

    Gio – the link to the Telegraph article was included in Walthamstow Writer’s post last night (at 8.14 pm) – it’s what triggered off this flurry of posts about the announcement!

  95. Graham H says:

    @Paul – the “1300 new vehicles” which Ministers once touted around so much didn’t include the TLK fleet. In fact, no one could work out just what it did include. [Roger Ford spent many ingenious hours/column inches trying to find a “fit” with what was actually known but never managed to find a satisfactory explanation]. The new TLK fleet seems to have settled down at about the 1140 ish mark now since at least about 2010.

  96. lmm says:

    The Pendolinos have been known as EMUs for years even though you need to jack up half a carriage to take them apart. I think we have to accept that “multiple unit” is a term of art and doesn’t always mean what it sounds like.

  97. DW down under says:

    lmm @ 05:54PM, 14th June 2013: “The Pendolinos have been known as EMUs for years even though you need to jack up half a carriage to take them apart. I think we have to accept that “multiple unit” is a term of art and doesn’t always mean what it sounds like.”

    I don’t want to make a habit of disagreeing with you on every point, but hitherto the fixed formation trains have been predominantly Intercity: e.g. Pendolinos, Wessex 442s, HSTs, Blue Pullmans before them.

    Multiple units have for the past 100 years or so been principally associated with urban/suburban/interurban operations. Now that these are trending to fixed formation trains as well, with TWO BIG orders now very much in the pipeline and LU having changed already, is why I suggested the time is ripe to start using an appropriate expression that distinguishes two different approaches to provisioning of rolling stock for these more local types of operations.

  98. Anon at 0857 again says:


    If you want to get really picky, your InterCity list covers several distinct types:
    442s are ordinary SR-type EMUs;
    Blue Pullmans were fixed-formation non-multiple units, modified to become DEMUs;
    Pendolinos are fixed-formation non-multiple units;
    HSTs are top-and-tailed variable-formation trains.


    Reading the BBC item again, I don’t actually think there’s anything to correct. What it says is that “Siemens is creating up to 300 new jobs on South Tyneside in a deal to build train carriages” and “The jobs will be created at the company’s facility in Hebburn”, both apparently true. It doesn’t actually say anything about where the trains will be assembled.

  99. DW down under says:

    Fleetline12:07AM, 14th June 2013:”@DW: I never mentioned the Telegraph. I’m talking about this article where POP states….”

    Sorry, I obviously didn’t understand to what you were responding. It seemed to me to be to comments rather than the original article.

    Picking up one of your points: if DafT are using Southern to avoid EU procurement directives, surely NR can do the same thing to procure technical innovations that currently only have a single source. A handy loophole! But surely, the EU is wise to this, and Britain faces legal problems if called to account?

    And if Southern has the task of making the 3rd tranche of procurements, then perhaps it won’t be by competitive tender after all. Perhaps that could explain the careful wording of the Gov’t press release concerning the Siemens contract:

    “The competition to supply trains and maintenance services for the Thameslink programme was designed and launched under the previous administration in 2008, in accordance with EU procurement procedures.

    In October 2009 the previous government announced that the 2 remaining short-listed bidders were Bombardier Transportation UK Ltd with VeloCity and Siemens Plc with Cross London Trains, comprising of Siemens Project Ventures, Innisfree Ltd and 3i Infrastructure Plc. In June 2011 the Siemens-led consortium was announced as the preferred bidder for the project.”

    The present government clearly wants to attribute the so-called “loss of British jobs” to the previous (ie Labour) government, and seems happy politically to offer Bombardier some straws to clutch at for the interim.

    Keep us posted as best you can, and please keep your fingers safe!!!

  100. DW down under says:

    Anon at 0857 again @ 05:13AM, 15th June 2013: “DWdu: If you want to get really picky, your InterCity list covers several distinct types: 442s are ordinary SR-type EMUs;”

    Oops, my bad. You’re right – they weren’t 10-car fixed formation, but rather 2 x 5-car units. I do apologise.

    Whether they can be classified as “ordinary” I guess is in the mind of the beholder! 🙂

  101. Paul says:

    Graham H at 04:04

    I’m quoting the Jan 30th 2008 Rolling stock plan – it definitely had a separate section about needing 1300 vehicles just for Thameslink:

    “It is expected that the new vehicles for the Thameslink Programme Key Output 2 (KO2) in 2015 will be the next generation design for Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) as described in the RTS. The completion of the Thameslink Programme KO2 in 2015 requires the introduction of up to 1300 new vehicles. In order to introduce such a large number of new vehicles, it is anticipated that they will be phased into service over a period of time in advance of 2015.”

    Reading the document overall it is perfectly clear that this is separate requirement to those tabulated in the plan affecting the whole country that Roger Ford was dissecting. I don’t disagree that their must have been overlaps between the two sets of figures, but it is the explicit number ‘for Thameslink’ KO2 given at that time, despite them presumably not having much of a clue what the eventual requirement would be.

  102. DW down under says:

    Paul @ 12:20PM, 15th June 2013:”Graham H at 04:04 – I’m quoting the Jan 30th 2008 Rolling stock plan – it definitely had a separate section about needing 1300 vehicles just for Thameslink:

    “It is expected that the new vehicles for the Thameslink Programme Key Output 2 (KO2) in 2015 will be the next generation design for Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) as described in the RTS. The completion of the Thameslink Programme KO2 in 2015 requires the introduction of up to 1300 new vehicles. “

    … M’Lud, the document clearly states: “up to 1300 vehicles.” Now in my dictionary, M’Lud, that means anything less than one thousand, three hundred. I submit M’Lud that 1040 vehicles is less than 1300, and thereby is fully in agreement with the document. The case for the Defence rests!

  103. Graham H says:

    OK! There have been several “1300s” about (one of which was regularly announced about twice a year and was a ragbag of stuff) and I was recalling that, not its successor. I think the actual current TLK figure you may have in mind is about 1140 and that was certainly the estimate used by all three bidders for TLK stock in about 2010 and the number in the approved Siemens bid. The 2008 figure was very likely a wet finger job (I’m being charitable to DfT here) as the TLK routeings and timetable have been in a state of constant flux until very recently – not helped by DfT showing the manufacturers a specimen timetable produced by the then TLK management which was unworkable (it forgot to allow for sufficient time for trains to turn at termini…). Fleetline assures us that Siemens have based their offer on a (new) workable timetable so presumably, 1140 will be enough.

  104. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – I think your comments about a previous TLK management producing an unworkable timetable without turn round time says a great deal. Can you imagine the embarrasment? 😉

    @ PoP – I do understand the 378s could be re-used under the concept you’ve set out. I also understand that there might (!) be some other services TfL are responsible for by then. I can just hear the Treasury and DfT going “look you’ve had billions of pounds to upgrade the Overground and yes we know you’ve got booming patronage but so has everyone else and they’re still using 55 year old diesel and electric trains. We’re sorry but we’re not giving you any more money to cater for new trains, bigger depots and sidings and yet more resignalling. Go away – we’ve got this 350% cost overrun on HS2 to deal with.”

    I do support GOBLIN electrification and partly for entirely selfish reasons that I’d like to see my local route improved. On wider grounds it makes a great deal of sense to sort out the well known problems. You are completely correct that the DMUs would go elsewhere and I would expect a big battle to get hold of them. I think the benefit of cascading DMUs is actually greater than for EMUs because of the complete failure of the DfT to accept that we will have to buy DMUs at some point, regardless of emissions issues. Electrification is not going to reach every line and we can’t keep Pacers going forever. Passengers in other areas do actually serve to get some decent new trains as well as there being a cascade programme. The need for a growth build is perfectly clear to me but hey I’m just an armchair critic 🙂

  105. Greg Tingey says:

    For new DMU’s built to the Brit loading-gauge, AND needing to meet compliance with the ever-tougher emissions requirements, it is going to have to be back to the future, with no underfloor power, & engines in separate compartments.
    So any new units might look like modern (i.e. sliding-air-door) versions of these and these.

  106. DW down under says:

    @Greg T. I think “they” are waiting for the fuel cell technology to mature. I just did a search on GE’s sodium battery work. It’s been launched as Durathon:

    It seems the way forward is a hydrogen fuel cell/battery hybrid – and for that matter supercap and KERS could be factors for the ultra short-term (braking/acceleration) and short-term (down dale/uphill) cycles respectively.

    Of course, with a battery dominant system, at least taking power from DC 3rd rails should be straightforward – a versatile hybrid which only produces water vapour as emissions.

    Now, DafT would be daft to consider this technology until it has matured and a good few rail operations use it. One or two test routes in the UK might precede general acceptance.

    Meanwhile, I take it you’re busy designing the Class 211 Desiro City Diesel for Siemens, or Turboblaster for Bomb-maker, or Darth Vader Universal for Alstom. 🙂

  107. Moosealot says:

    So, as I understand it, the emissions regulations that are effectively preventing new builds of DMUs are binding on the date of production of the engine – this is certainly true for road transport. With 20/20 hindsight, it’s easy to say that someone should have stockpiled a load of the MTU engines in the 172s before the current regulations came into place.

    If this is the case, couldn’t the engines, transmissions (bogies?) and related gubbins be stripped from the spare German DMUs and used to power either new carriages or modified “spare” 508 stock? Yes, the work to do this will not be free but it will be one hell of a lot cheaper than designing a new emissions-compliant class to build the fairly modest number of DMUs that are required and whose useful lifespans may be limited by widely-deployed electrification…

  108. ngh says:

    Re Moosealot

    Correct, the term used in the directives* is “already in the supply chain” so the engines could have sat on the shelves in a warehouse for years.

    *(all of them, covering car, commercial vehicles, NRMM (inc rail use) and marine including outboard engine emission rules)

    MTU make an updated version of the Class 172 engine that meets current regs (IIIB), most of the issue is with modifying the DMU body to fit in extra particle traps and a larger exhaust system. Modifying the body presumably means they have to recertify for crash worthiness at significant cost which increases the per car cost to silly figures for small orders, hence bombardiers high quote for the extra 172 cars for the GOBlin units.

    Interestingly the bigger engines have to meet less strict emissions rules so a single larger above the floor engine (Hastings style as highlight above by Greg) might make more sense if a 4 car DMU was wanted but with further electrifcication most DMU might end up on the quieter lines where 2 cars would be more than enough outside the peaks.

    Another part of the issue is the leasing companies fearing unwanted DMU if electrification keeps going at the proposed CP5 (2014-19) pace beyond 2019.

    With NR’s long term electrification plan currently in progress (released later this year?) and a larger batch being ordered (the longer it is waited to place an order, the bigger the potential order) it might happen but not for another 5 years.

    Cascading 378s
    Presumably plenty of possible takers as they are DV and have SDO that works. The issue if they were to stay in London /southeast is that some existing units without SDO would have to retired as there isn’t really a market for more non SDO 3rd rail stock south of the Thames due to 10/12 car platform lengthening. So 442 or 455 scrapping would seem to align with sensible cascade times which suggests this could be a long time away.

    378 and 6 car
    What exactly is the electrical problem with extending from 5 to 6 car? Software, limit on the transformer power output, or the internal power cables not being a large enough diameter. Most of the aerodynamic loading on train is bourne by the front carriage so as more carriages are added the power needed be car can be lower while maintaining the same performance.

    Unless heating/AC, lighting etc is massive the transformer shouldn’t be the limit unless they have put something very small on them (a 3MW transformer should easily fit underneath a unit happily)
    Original 3 car 378 was average 400KW /car [total 1.2MW]
    Current 4 car 378 is average 450KW /car [total 1.8MW]
    Future 5 car 378 would be average 480KW /car [total 2.4MW] (assuming additional car is the same as the 4th car.)

    So 6 car could be done with a trailer only and maintain the same average traction power as an original 3 car.

  109. Moosealot says:

    I’m sorry if I’ve been veering off topic here somewhat, but @ngh, the issues around demand for DMUs after extensive electrification were what I was alluding to regarding “useful lifespans”. Hence skirting round the legal aspects by either rebodying the German DMUs with 508 bodies or updating the 508s with German DMU running gear – both options being exactly the same – depending upon exactly how the rules are written.

    Getting back onto topic(ish), how much do various regulations add to the costs of trains generally, and is this why they’re £1m+ per carriage? And how much does this additional cost actually make the regulations counter-productive: e.g. if DMUs were cheaper, would there have been an opportunity to scrap a pile of Pacers? And if there were fewer regulations surrounding procurement, would we be nearer to on schedule with the Thameslink stock and not have to have implemented dodgy workarounds via Southern?

  110. Walthamstow Writer says:

    And now we have an interesting knock on consequence of Siemens winning the Thameslink work – they have announced (5/7) that they have withdrawn from the Crossrail rolling stock procurement. This therefore guarantees there will not be a common fleet (or close to) for Thameslink and Crossrail. It also possibly improves the odds for Bombardier to gain the Crossrail work although I think it is going to be a tough procurement battle.

  111. Anonymous says:

    A common fleet would not have been a great advantage anyway – there is no easy way of transferring stock from one route to the other – via Stratford, Canonbury and Finsbury Park, perhaps! – and the type of service now evolving for Thameslink is more inter-urban than the suburban/metro operation that will be Crossrail.

  112. Fandroid says:

    That Siemens press release wasn’t exactly the one I was expecting. Have they also done one concerning the closure of the Thameslink contract?

  113. Snowy says:

    Great shout to who ever predicted that, was it PoP?

  114. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @ Snowy

    Much as I would like to claim the credit for it, I didn’t predict Siemens withdrawing from the Crossrail train bidding process. Mwmbwls has pointed out to me that it was Roger Ford who did that. All I ever said was that if Siemens announced in advance that they weren’t tendering for the next up-and-coming Southern-on-behalf-of-DfT order it would be a bit embarrassing for the DfT as it would limit the competition.

    I am sure that Philip Hammond said a while back when SoS for Transport that there will be plenty of future orders for Bombardier. I can’t find the reference though. At the time I took it to be weasel words but maybe he knew, or engineered, something.

    @Anonymous 10:18 5th July

    I don’t think inter-operability was ever the issue. But Crossrail were hoping and expecting the Thameslink fleet to enter service much earlier. If the trains were the same or similar to Crossrail then they could reasonably hope that most bugs would be ironed out by the time Crossrail started running.

  115. Snowy says:

    Confirmation of southerns stop gap order today. Interesting that they will be used on thameslink despite that still being FCC at present. Obviously by the time they are available the mega francise will be in operation but it still seems weird for one TOC to purchase trains for another.

  116. Graham H says:

    @Snowy – No mystery ; it’s a way of ducking the EU public sector procurement legislation (TOCs not being in the public sector). That way, DfT gets the stock it wants and not something that, for example, the present TLK incumbent might prefer.

  117. ngh says:

    Re Snowy 08:41AM, 18th July 2013

    The stock is leased not purchased.

    Thameslink’s current 377s followed the same arrangement with Southern over seeing the ordering and acceptance. This is something they have expertise in (especially dual voltage units). The existing TL 377s are subleased from Southern.

    Hitachi also got another 270 cars (30 units) of IEP today (for 225 replacement on ECML) so the 3 big UK Rolling stock suppliers have each got reasonable orders in the last few months.

    116 = 29x 4car units

  118. Snowy says:

    In which case why do the ROSCO’s not make the order for the carriages as they are also private buisnesses or is it purely a PR exercise for the government, TOCs & railway as not many people (this site excluded) know what they are?

  119. Graham H says:

    @Snowy – The TOCs do what they are told to*, if they want to keep in DfT’s good books, the ROSCOs (which DfT hates) don’t. Remember the abortive order for “100 new DMUs” a little while back? DfT set up a special purpose vehicle just to procure them, rather than ring up its nearest ROSCO. However, if DFT had to order the stuff themselves, they would be obliged to put it out to tender with the extreme probability that they would receive bids for designs which didn’t quite (or at all) match what they wanted.

    * The franchise agreements are full of gagging clauses, it’s just that they aren’t much in the public domain.

  120. To quote “Just two in five passengers will get a seat on London’s new generation of commuter trains — highlighting concerns that standing is set to become the norm even on longer journeys.” Actually only about 38% seated but that is not especially relevant.

    Such a statement is entirely misleading and is typical of Evening Standard nonsense. If the train was completely full then that would be the case. But clearly a train isn’t normally full throughout its journey. Furthermore a train is normally only full for two short periods of the day five days a week. As the trains are fixed length I suspect that overall the portion of actual standing passengers as a total of all passengers will go down.

    It will tend to be the shorter distance travellers who will have to stand but lots of research has shown that that is a minor consideration to them compared to frequency.

    I would urge future Thameslink travellers from Tattenham Corner to sleep soundly in their beds and be assured that come 2018 they will still get a seat and it won’t be the case that two in five of them will have to stand.

  121. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – well the nonsense is from the same paper that regularly ran a campaign *demanding* that all commuters were able to get a seat regardless of when they travelled and regardless of the expense of trying to provide them with said seat. There is an easy way to ensure everyone gets a seat – make every train reservation compulsory and police the trains on that basis. The fact that some people will never be able to get to work on a train and for others it will take many hours of waiting is neither here nor there! You are, of course, completely correct that for all the voiced resentment in TV “vox pop” clips about fares and no seats commuters know they will have to stand at certain times if they insist on travelling when everyone else wants to. They are far more concerned about reliability and quick journey times. If they were really bothered about fares they would demand a low fare policy from politicians – to date there has been no significant ground swell for such a policy and London voted in 2008 for a Mayor committed to a fares policy of above inflation fare rises. Despite all the moans I don’t see this position changing very much.

  122. Greg Tingey says:

    Entirely correct – I was merely pointing out that the “Standard appeared to have finally “noticed”. Pathetic, isn’t it?

  123. ngh says:

    If the commuters don’t have seats they may / will struggle to read the Standard standing up so they may not bother picking it up which would hurt the the circulation and advertising revenue – hence a lot of self interest from the Standard on the seats issue.

  124. Castlebar, - in a crayon free zone says:

    @ PoP 09:52

    Years ago, when I lived in Ealing, I could ALWAYS get a seat on any Central or District Line train arriving at E Bdy at about 5:30 or 5:54

    How was this done??

    By deliberately getting on any train at the rear end, – furthest away from the Ealing Bdy barriers. The front two carriages were inevitably so rammed that sometimes there wasn’t even standing room, yet, 5 or 6 carriages further towards the back end, there were always plenty of seats to be had. (West Acton & Ealing Common passengers were also in the same front ends > some of the problem could have been alleviated by a Northfields & South Ealing arrangement where travellers wanted to “alight” the same train at opposite ends.)

    Surely this is a lesson learned for any new build line?? (But I doubt it)

  125. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Castlebar – you’re never going to defeat humans wanting to employ the “principle of least effort” hence why people crowd the front to get a quick escape. I agree that “forcing” people to spread along platforms through the design of stations is certainly something to be considered at very busy locations. I suspect that in the suburbs you’ll rarely get it simply because of the cost. My experience of terminal or NR / LU interchange stations is that people always position themselves for a quick getaway – presumably as an allowance for any delays on the way and needing to dash for their connecting train. Ealing Broadway certainly falls into that category. If there was a footbridge link at the east end of the station (near the back of LU trains) then I suspect you’d get a better spread because people wanting stations west would use the bridge to get to their desired platform. Similar logic has been employed at East Croydon although there is a bigger overall scheme there and safety concerns added to the case for that overbridge).

    The ELL stations in Hackney don’t have multiple exits as that would be overkill in terms of construction and operating costs. However the new tunnelled CR2 stations almost certainly will be double ended because of their size. If properly designed then they could spread the load very well – Seven Sisters is a case in point given it may stretch to South Tottenham station and has the potential to link to several different main roads (as the current LU station does)

  126. Milton Clevedon says:

    There indeed used to be a footbridge link at the east end of Ealing Broadway LUL station to get to the Central/GW platforms, but it was abolished sometime in the late 1950s/early 1960s. I vaguely recall that it might have included a small booking office in the structure. Anyhow, it went at or before the time of the lo-cost rebuild as one station in the early 1960s, whose design is now regretted.

  127. CdBrux says:

    Whilst ‘back home’ recently (east Bedfordshire) I noticed a letter in a local rag from the chair (I think) of the Hitchin rail users group or somesuch name. He mentioned that the new rolling stock on the line post 2017 / 18 would be more ‘utilitarian’. I reckon when this rolling stock is unveiled it will be pretty unpopular with a lot of people!

  128. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ CdBrux – fascinating to see that Mr Horton’s early words about his (sorry DfT’s) shiny new trains providing no extra space, tomb like seats and people having to stand have gone down like a lead balloon all over the place. Perhaps the Hitchin journalists need to be pointed to J Roberts’ latest instalment of the “Future London Travel Horror Story” (aka Tokyo travelling conditions are coming to London) to upset the local commuters even more?? Although the timescales are a long way out the issues that we face really do warrant some decent discussion and wider awareness with the voting public. How on earth the money is going to be found to resolve some of these issues is a real issue? Can you imagine the resentment from the rest of the country when London asks for billions more to be spent on its rail network?

    @ Castlebar – interesting bit of history there. I had no idea the station used to be like that. Thanks.

  129. Walthamstow Writer says:

    The very first Siemens Class 700 train for Thameslink is on its way to the UK from Germany. Photo from a German rail forum of the transfer train.,7491940

    Due through South London around midnight.

  130. ngh says:

    The delivery service:

    6X66 2215 Dollands Moor to 0137 Three Bridges

    Local timing points and detailed route here:

  131. timbeau says:

    A bit newsy, but it does answer the question in the title!

  132. ngh says:

    Re Timbeau,

    It a 12 car unit.
    Although it won’t be in service till early next year 6-7 months behind the the target in the “Revised Schedule” in the article above, though on time in the current revised revised schedule…
    (Which also means Siemens have to build the units in a even short time period completing roughly 2 cars every working day).

    As the translator vehicles aren’t ready yet the initial units delivered will use brake force wagons instead (as seen in the photo WW linked) and the units will be split up with brake force wagon inserted between the 4th & 5th and 8th & 9th cars as well as at both ends.

  133. Moosealot says:

    ‘Wherefore’ actually means ‘why’, not ‘where’.

  134. Yes, we’ve been through that here and here.

  135. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Train delayed en route through the continent, not expected until Thursday at earliest.

  136. quinlet says:

    There was a class 700 train in Platform 3 at Blackfriars this morning, presumably on test. This seems to suggest ngh’s prediction of a 6-7 months delay was about right.

  137. ngh says:

    Re Quinlet,

    They are currently running upto 5 test trains a night and upto 3 trains during the day mainly for driver training which is the max they are apparently planning / can do a day and have only been able to do this for the last fortnight.
    Driver training (for non test drivers) only started in earnest a month ago.

    April is apparently the first in service date and 8? of the first batch of 11x 12 car units delivered so far. (The first batch of 387s to GWR is due to go in advance of the May timetable change when GWR start running the electric Hayes & Harlington – Paddington shuttles)

  138. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – re your final sentence in brackets. Is that an additional service into Paddington or does it use the paths for the Greenford shuttle? I assume there is a new turnback at Hayes and Harlington as I can’t recall there being one last time I was there (a few years ago).

  139. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    I believe Greenford replacements.
    Starting at the May TT change then extended westwards as more wiring is completed (e.g. December TT change) along with more stopping services converting as enough wiring is completed to Maidenhead (also December ’16?).

    There is the 8 car bay platform and appropriate point work?

  140. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    In Orpington, some white diamond signs have started to appear on the platforms. They either have a blue border and say “FLU” in the same colour or a slightly more purple tone and say “RLU”.

    Am I correct in assuming they are the stopping points for the new 12 and 8 car trains respectively?

  141. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Southern Heights,

    You are correct and they have been on the Brighton Main Line for quite a while now. Technically they are for Full Length Units and Reduced Length Units.

  142. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    That is what I’m assuming… The funny thing is, they are at exactly the same places as the 8 & 12 car markers, so I’m not entirely sure what the point is…

  143. They may be at exactly the same place at Orpington but that is not generally the case – although the difference appears to be small.

  144. timbeau says:

    And this is clearer than “8” and “12” (qualified if necessary by “Class 700”) because………?

    How do SWT manage when a 10-car class 444 or 159 formation is the same length as a 12-car class 450?

  145. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Because it is not necessarily the same as conventional 8 car and 12 car stopping marks.

    The signs need to be distinguished from the conventional ones – hence why they are diamond shaped and coloured differently so they can be easily identified. Using letters instead of numbers further aids the process.

    If we had further proliferation of “class xxx” type marking it would be too easy to make a mistake. Norwood Junction already has differentiating signs for class 171 and London Bridge and other locations have differentiating signs for class 442s.

  146. Graham H says:

    @PoP/timbeau – so does SWT (at least on my line), with “444 stop” in addition to 8 and 4 car. And no, I don’t think they have 9 car markers for the odd 444+450 combo.

  147. 100andthirty says:

    Imagine the fun at platforms where they need 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 car stopping marks and the 11-car train is longer than the 12-car train!

    There is very occasionally a 16 car train that stops there but only if something has gone hideously wrong!

  148. Malcolm says:

    A 16-car train could only exist, as I understand it, if a normal-length one has broken down and it is being somehow moved by another train. In such a case, I would have thought, at least one (or often both) of the normal trains would be empty of passengers, in which case the stopping would be arranged to suit the part (if any) which had some passengers in (and are about to be removed as soon as such a position is reached).

    Or have I misunderstood what you are talking about?

    I am also unclear as to which particular platform you are talking about, but the general point, that an apparently confusing range of stopping marks could eventually be required in various places, seems to be well made. “Sorting it all out” (if that is possible, and as desirable as it seems in the abstract to a lay person) seems like a good idea, but a hard problem!

    It could be, of course, that such lay persons (in which I include myself) are worrying unnecessarily, and if you are in the know it is all fine and dandy.

  149. 100andthirty says:

    Malcolm……..sorry, wasn’t meant to be a 11th March cryptic quiz question The station is Milton Keynes Central and the stock combinations are 4, 8, 12 car class 350, 4, 5 and 8 car Electrostars, 5 and 10 car Voyagers and 9 and 11 car Pendolinos. The very rare 16 car train is the Caledonian sleeper in the event of failure (has been seen in the last 6 months).

  150. timbeau says:

    The only 16-car trains I know of in the UK are the Caledonian sleepers (Eurostars have twenty, but the carriages are shorter) and the only stations the full formation normally calls at are Carstairs and Carlisle (Lowland), Edinburgh, Preston and Crewe (Highland), Watford Junction and Euston (both). Don’t know about all of them, but certainly at Watford Junction the platform is not long enough for the whole train.

  151. Sad Fat Dad says:

    The FLU / RLU markers are, in some cases, in different places to conventional 12 / 8 markers for two main reasons.

    1) the Class 700 has a central driving position, and sighting of signals is slightly different
    2) the accessible coaches (the middle two of both types of unit) need to stop in the same place, and MUST stop in the same place in the core stations, where the humped platforms will be.

  152. Purley Dweller says:

    They have a further sign for 700 which is ALL. With SDO around the rim.

  153. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Finally spotted a 700 at Orpington this morning the 8 coaches look to be a cab length shorter than a 4+4 465 train.

    It’s the very first time I’ve seen one out there (though I’m sure they must have been there before).

  154. timbeau says:

    700s also working the Wimbledon loop.

    “the 8 coaches look to be a cab length shorter ” About 80cm (2′ 7.5″) in fact

    Train lengths (8 car trains, figures from Wikipedia and my arithmetic)
    Class 319 – 159m
    Class 700 – 162m
    Class 465 – 162.8m
    Class 378- 163.2m

  155. Anonymous says:

    I’ve noticed on the 700’s at Tulse Hill that the doors in the last coach are locked with the announcement that this is due to short platforms, this isn’t an issue on the 319’s. I don’t know if this occurs at any other ‘loop’ stations.

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