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The Archive

Please note - this is a LONG page!

This page serves a number of functions. Firstly, it's an archive of news removed from the "Latest News" page.

On this page are points and issues that should be mentioned, but aren't of enough significance to be on
the "Withdrawal" page. If you think I'm wrong on a point, please sign up to the forum and discuss!

Also here are points and issues I've not mentioned yet, or have mentioned on another page but not
wanted to expand on, for page length reasons!

Additionally, I've now added discussions on rumours. As it's hard to have rumours proven or disproven,
these are mostly lighthearted explorations and theoretical exercises. Take with a pinch of salt!

As of 7th April, any new additions will be marked with the date they were added or moved.

 

Am I Serious?

It's been mentioned to me that I surely cannot think that SWT will listen to one man and his website.
Well, that's more than likely correct. In my opinion, SWT have already made the decision to withdraw
these trains. If they're handling the deal with Southern (as opposed to the train's owners, Angel
Trains), then they're probably already in discussions and may already have closed a deal.

However, I want SWT to know that their decisions DO have an impact on their customers, and
that not all of their customers are happy about this withdrawal. I've heard from people who use
the Portsmouth line regularly and are not at all happy about their 444s being replaced with 450s.
I've also heard from users of the Reading line, who are getting the 458s back and aren't happy
about it at all and want the 450s back!

So - SWT - while your stock shuffling may put the shiniest and newest trains on your metals,
be aware that not everyone is happy about it. Your total lack of customer consultation on this
withdrawal doesn't make you look too good, either. And while you're not required to ask your
customers about every change you make, it would certainly make you look as if you cared more
and were more customer-oriented, especially on big issues like this.

 

Quick Update (old news but still possibly relevant)

Note: This is now absolutely inaccurate and out of date
and is here for archive purposes only.

For anyone who is reading this page before reading the Withdrawal page, approximately seven
units are going to Gatwick Express, and approximately ten to twelve units will be going to Southern.
The remaining seven units include a number that have been withdrawn as they are either damaged
or have a serious failure. It's a strong possibility that all seven trains will be used for parts They will
probably be split 4/3 between GatEx and Southern.

 

2416 to Eastleigh (added 3rd May)

2416 moved to Eastleigh today, arriving at the usual time of 13.10.
This leaves no 442s at Bournemouth Depot.

Here are some pictures, taken from Platform 1 at Hinton Admiral:
(1024x768, approximately 200k)


Approaching Hinton Admiral.
A little closer...
Reaching the platform...
Looking a little faded... :-/
Leaving now.
Bye bye.

There's also a video... This file is about 9Mb and is encoded in XviD. If you don't have the
XviD codec installed on your PC, then you can get free it from here, or alternatively
download the very useful VLCPlayer (also free) from here. It's also free and plays
a large number of codecs "out of the box". (Supported codec list here.)

Here's the link to the video - just unzip it and play! --click here--

 

Pigs to GatEx (added 3rd May)

According to an article at TheRailwayCentre.Com, found here, "several" class 442s
will be used by the new Gatwick Express service to start in December 2008. The same
(GatEx) branding will be used and the 442s will supplement GatEx's existing fleet of
460s. The current franchise will be ended in May 2008. The new franchise will
provide a non-stop service from Gatwick Airport and London every 15 minutes.

Additionally, at peak times, the service will run to Brighton, doubling the number of
express trains between London Victoria and Brighton.

It will be interesting to see what modifications are made to the 442s - there have
been a lot of rumours around - everything from just a new livery to being completely
overhauled with new traction motors, bogies, etc.

 

Negotiations (added 3rd May)

In other news, rumours are about that talks between Angel Trains and SWT have
not been successful. I would assume this is because AT wouldn't drop the leasing
costs as far as SWT would like, and this I would assume is due to interest from
GatEx as detailled above.

I've also heard that SWT may be considering taking approximately 5 442s back
to cover for gaps in the 444/450 fleets.

 

Eastleigh Move (added 18th April)

2418 and 2423 moved to Eastleigh today, arriving at the usual time of 13.10.
This just leaves 2416 at the depot, its future open to speculation. Due to its
unreliability it may well be scrapped, but nothing is confirmed as yet.

 

News Update (added 7th April)

Back on a proper 'net connection now. There's a lot of rumours,
and some news flying around at the moment:

1) GatEx - will continue, but with peak trains running to Brighton.

2) Hull Trains are pretty much confirmed as taking on an unspecified number of 442s to be
loco-hauled. These are supposedly to be used on the weekends so they can perform
maintenance on their Class 222s. Rumour says either 2 or 3 units will be going north.

3) As mentioned below in "Quick Update", Angel Trains have offered SWT the 442s back.
Apparently the number offered is around 16-17, but that's currently unconfirmed.

 

Pigs Could Go North! (added 15th March)

There's word on the vine that the 442s could go to Hull Trains. With 3rd rail not used up there,
they would need to be pulled by Class 67s (diesel loco), which Hull Trains already have.
[source: Tom's Forum - http://www.railforums.co.uk]

 

Southern Rumour (added 15th March)

There's a rumour around that Southern don't want the 442s. It's unofficial, there's not
been anything official from them yet. The reasons are rumoured to be:

1) Power issues between Clapham Junction and London Victoria.
2) Platform issues at Clapham - apparently the 442s are unable to
use a couple of the platforms there. Reasons unknown as yet.

 

Quick Update (added 5th April)

Updating from onboard a canal boat(!) - I'm on limited time, so I'll be quick!

Tom informs me that Angel Trains have offered SWT the 442s back. Angel Trains will cover the
refurbishment costs and SWT would just be paying the lease. This is because storing the units at
Eastleigh costs too much and obviously doesn't bring in any money for SWT or Angel!

If this were to happen, SWT would probably return a majority of Portsmouth services to
444 operation and may well withdraw the 458s as a result, making everyone happy!

So, pressure on SWT at this point is a good thing - write to your MP, write to SWT,
join the no450 campaign and we may well get the 442s back!

I've also received other news that "stored units" may be used for Brighton to Gatwick services.
However, there seem to be a lot of questions over services on that entire line at the moment,
including the possible axing of the Gatwick Express service, so I would suspect this is one plan among
many for that line. Also, see the section below; "Southern Rumour".

That's all for now!

 

 

Meet The Manager (Added 9th Jan)

Two issues from the Meet The Manager session that really bothered me:

- 444/450 seats were apparently designed by an ergonomics expert at Siemens, so
should be very good for your back. Additionally, (and I quote) "some people don't like getting out of the 442's seats as they're too squishy".......!

- The main (official) reason for the withdrawal is that the new franchise required SWT to increase capacity overall. So by reintroducing the 458s, cascading the other stocks and withdrawing the 442s, they have increased the overall capacity, and that's what counts to the government.

I want to address these two points in turn.

Firstly. I personally find the 444/450 seats to be darn uncomfortable on a long journey.
They're fine for surburban/short haul services, but on a long journey (Waterloo to
Weymouth or Poole or Bournemouth), they're too hard. I'm not an ergonomics expert
nor a back expert, but I would hazard a guess that if you have bad posture, suddenly
using a seat that puts your spine into a "correct" position when it's used to being in an
incorrect position can't possibly be good?

After a journey on a 444, my back certainly wasn't as relaxed as it usually was after
a journey in a 442. Perhaps I have bad posture and the 442's seats encourage it!

The capacity reason just doesn't add up to me. Sure, I don't doubt that the new franchise
required an overall increase in capacity. But I can't make the figures add up. Carry on reading...

 

A Purely Theoretical Exercise... (Added 9th Jan)

I'm going to indulge myself here. If you have the patience to read through all this, please
do bear in mind that this is a purely theoretical exercise. Without knowing exactly
what trains are in use at a given time, it's impossibly to do this accurately, and therefore
these numbers shouldn't be counted as anywhere near valid.

I don't have enough information about what stock was used when and where to
be able to make a 100% accurate assessment of how good SWT's stock shuffle
has been, and whether withdrawing the 442s helped any. So I'm going to speculate.

SWT are currently in the process of returning their class 170s to Porterbrook (the
leasing company) and replacing them with refurbished 159/1s (formally 158s), so this
will have an effect on capacity.

This is where it gets confusing, so thinking caps on please!

I'm going to do a pre-swap calculation, and a post-swap calculation.

For the pre-swap calculation, I'm going to head for mid-to-late 2005. The Junipers (458s)
have been withdrawn. I'm aware that they were never entirely 100% withdrawn, but
for the sake of this exercise, I'm counting them as withdrawn.

The 455s have started their refurbishments, but as I don't
know how many have been refurbished at the time of my theoretical snapshot,
I'm going to use the old figures for the non-refurbished units. This will slightly raise
the number of available seats, but if the number of refurbished units was known, I
don't believe it would be enough to significantly alter the total number of seats.

For the post-swap calculation, I'm going to head for sometime in late 2007. The
455s have completed their refurbishment, the 458s are back on the rails, the 442s
have been withdrawn, and the swap of 170s for refurb 159s has been completed.

Here are the numbers.

PRE-SWAP, POST-JUNIPER WITHDRAWAL. APPROX. LATE 2005.
CLASS STANDARD
SEATS
FIRST CLASS
SEATS
TOTAL SEATS
PER TRAIN
No. OF UNITS TOTAL SEATS
455 316 0 316 91 28756
450 246 24 270 110 29700
444 299 35 334 45 15030
442 281 50 331 24 7944
170 104 18 122 8 976
170 102 9 111 1 111
159 170+2 24 196 22 4312
158 114 13 127 2 254
           
Second 170 row is for unit 170392. TOTALS: 303 87083
+standing

+ figures indicate tip-up seats. Just add the two together.

POST-SWAP, JUNPERS IN SERVICE, MORE 450s, 455s REFURBED, 442s WITHDRAWN
CLASS STANDARD
SEATS
FIRST CLASS
SEATS
TOTAL SEATS
PER TRAIN
No. OF UNITS TOTAL SEATS
458 250+11 24 285 22 6270
455 244 0 244 91 22204
450 246 24 270 127 34290
444 299 35 334 45 15030
1:1 REPLACEMENT RATIO USED FOR 170s to 159s
(ie, for every 170 removed from service, a 159 is introduced)
159 170+2 24 196 31 6076
158 114 13 127 2 254
           
      TOTALS: 318 84124
+standing

Now, I should state here that I know these figures are inaccurate. I also want to state that I
have not intentionally manipulated these figures to make the outcome as it is.

With the refurbishment of the 455s there is a reduction in seats, but an unknown addition
to the number of standing passengers. This will obviously affect the final figures!

The conclusion here is that even though SWT have more trains
running, they have in practice reduced the number of seats!

Let's run those figures again, but WITHOUT withdrawing the 442s.

POST-SWAP, JUNPERS IN SERVICE, MORE 450s, 455s REFURBED
CLASS STANDARD
SEATS
FIRST CLASS
SEATS
TOTAL SEATS
PER TRAIN
No. OF UNITS TOTAL SEATS
458 250+11 24 285 22 6270
455 244 0 244 91 22204
450 246 24 270 127 34290
444 299 35 334 45 15030
442 281 50 331 24 7944
1:1 REPLACEMENT RATIO USED FOR 170s to 159s
(ie, for every 170 removed from service, a 159 is introduced)
159 170+2 24 196 31 6076
158 114 13 127 2 254
           
      TOTALS: 318 92068
+standing

Now, how about this, SWT. Put the 442s back on the Weymouth line and re-jig your other
services appropriately. Run 12-carriage 450s whenever necessary, and look at what happens
to the seat total!

Please do bear in mind that this is a purely theoretical exercise. Without knowing exactly
what trains are in use at what time, it's impossibly to do this accurately, and therefore
these numbers shouldn't be counted as anywhere near valid.

 

Those Junipers!!!

A little snip of a rumour from the forum. In January 2004, the BBC reported that SWT
were withdrawing their Junipers. Here're the reasons why.

The Juniper trains, costing £90 million, were introduced four years ago by South West Trains.

In that time they have have suffered from leaky roofs and failing electronics.

...

Figures show the Juniper rolling stock break down every 4,300 miles on average, compared to the previous slam-door trains which broke down on average once every 50,000 miles.

...

The latest figures suggest that 27% of its services have run late since the trains were introduced.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/3388679.stm

Now, there's a very long and complicated story attached to these trains. They've spent
more time either being repaired or being modified for the Disability Regulations than they
have in service! You can find a very detailled history of these units and their relation
with their Gatwick Express cousins on these two sites:

The Fall and Rise of South West Trains' 458 Units (SEG)

Gatwick Express 458s (SEG)

Getting back to the point, the rumour was that the only reason the 458s have been
reintroduced is because when they were first introduced, back in 1998, Stagecoach
(SWT's parent company) owned Porterbrook (the leasing company), who ordered
the trains from Alstom. As they were at one time sister companies, SWT is somehow
obligated to run units that its sister company ordered.

I didn't say there was any sense in it, I did say it's a rumour...

 

Rumour Mill (Added 9th Jan)

The "Rumour Mill" is located in the forum and is one of the places where members post
up unconfirmed information about the 442s. Some of the earlier rumours have now been
confirmed, so it would seem that there is some good information to be found in rumours!
Here are some of the latest.

- Southern may only want 5x 442s, ditto got Gatwick Express.

- Southern may insist that they are converted to Driver Only Operation and that
Angel Trains (who own the 442s) do the conversion and foot the bill before
they will accept them.

- SWT may be keeping five units for "relief" work.

 

Why do Gatwick Express want these? (Added 9th Jan 2007)

Gatwick Express have a fleet of eight class 460s (similar to the 458 Junipers that SWT run,
but with the designation 8-GAT). Delivery of these new units started in 2000, so they're
not anywhere near old yet.

Originally, they had the older class 73, 488 and 489 trains, a few of which were kept on after
the 460s were introduced. However, I'm told that nearly all of these have now been withdrawn.
This would require GatEx to need some backup stock, just in case something went wrong
with a 460. But to purchase FIVE 442 units?

They're either expecting some serious failures, planning on expanding the service (in which
case, wouldn't they just purchase/lease more 460s? and unlikely seeing as the Victoria to
Brighton line is already fairly overcrowded), or that figure is plain inaccurate.

Additionally, there seems to be some issues over the future of the GatEx service.
See this website: BAA Gatwick - Save the Gatwick Express.

The short version:

The Department for Transport has recently published a consultation document (consultation closes 22 December 2006) which aims to reduce peak-time overcrowding on services between Brighton and London. This is the second major public consultation on the implementation of the Brighton Main Line Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS).

As we're now in January, either the DfT got a real move on about deciding to keep GatEx,
or GatEx know something that no one else knows, because the rumours are that they're
PURCHASING (not leasing, note, outright purchasing) five 442 units.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Why on earth do Southern want these?

SWT have claimed (apparently) that these trains are too expensive to run. As I've said on another page,
SWT don't seem to have any problems with flashing their cash around, so I can only put this down to cost cutting.

Southern will have to completely overhaul these trains to their own standards, and if they're expensive to
run, then these trains are going to cost them a lot of money. To quote;

"Now the innards of the units will be gutted totally, and rebranded into Southern's home colours, tho it is unclear if the buffet will be retained. The traction kit will be completely stripped dwon, wiring looked at and changed as necessary."

Let's also consider the uses that Southern have for these units. The rumours say that Soutern will probably
put them on the Victoria - Brighton route and displace the 319s that are currently serving that line. That
line serves Gatwick Airport, so you're going to get a lot of luggage there. Let's summarize what Southern
will need to do to make these units suitable for the task:

1) Interior - change layout to make room for luggage.
2) Interior - add disability equipment: DMIs, auto-announcer, better PA.
(The volume control for the current PA is apparently located in the equiment under floor level!)
3) Interior - brand new seats, carpets... everything, really!
4) Exterior - new livery.
5) Equipment - motors (assuming this isn't covered by SWT's C6 overhaul, which I believe it isn't - see above quote)
6) Equipment - wiring, where necessary.

Now, that's a hell of a lot of work. Surely it would be far easier for SWT to carry on refurbishing them as
they are doing? At the end of this refurbishment, SWT will have a fleet of (hopefully) spotless trains in
excellent condition, in the current SWT livery (if reports of 2402's new livery are confirmed), ready to roll.

I know it's part of their lease contract, but it doesn't seem to make sense to do all that work just to give
them up and have that hard work undone. Obviously without knowing the exact work that's being
undertaken in the SWT C6 overhaul, it's hard to know what Southern will need to do.

This is no insult to the trains themselves. I strongly believe that if Southern take these units on
and do a really good, thorough job of overhauling them, they'll have trains that'll provide another
20 years of good, reliable service.

The other reason...

They're 442s - Southern know they'd be onto a good thing if they could get hold of them!

 

Things are shaping up. (added 24th Dec 2006)

I've been keeping an eye on various forums and groups over the last few days, and things
are really shaping up. Between failed units and transfers to other TOCs, there's definate
game plan being formulated. It just seems to need its edges smoothing out.

Seven units will be going to Gatwick Express. Which units exactly isn't known yet, but
it's rumoured that 2421 will be one of them as it's returned from its refurb in white/grey,
which are two of GatEx's colours.

Ten, possibly twelve units will be going to Southern, however there appears to be a
problem. The rumour mill says Southern will only have them if they're converted to
DOO (Driver Only Operation), and ASLEF (rail union) may not be happy about this as it
would mean a reduction in train staff.

(Up to) seven units are out of service for various faults. These will probably be split 4/3
to GatEx and Southern, although this isn't confirmed yet.

Check the forum for the absolute latest - many thanks to Tom.

There are rumours that Southern are moving their Class 319s to First Capital
Connect, which is why they want the 442s.

One final thing, I received an acknowledgement yesterdat from SWT about the four page
letter I sent them. They're going to send a full reply "shortly". I'll post here once they do!