New trains on the Brighton Mainline

by Steve Wedd

The new 700 trains operated by Thameslink are smart but horrid.



  • The seats are too light. I understand how that helps reduce the overall weight but the padding is too thin and they are uncomfortable.


  • The seat pitch is too small. There is not enough room even to use an iPad. I am 5’8″ and I can’t usefully fit the iPad between my stomach and seat back in front.


  • Laptops are impossible – on a busy City commuter line. We want to be able to work for the extra 2.5 hours a day burnt on the journey up and down.


  • The stock is too light which means that it bounces along poor track. Don’t bother to tell me that Network Rail is responsible – I know. Heavier stock may be more expensive to move but the ride is more comfortable for the pax – and is that not the point of a passenger railway?


  • There are no tables. No place for tea or phones. Nowhere to lay out papers.


  • There are no power points! This is brand new stock on a busy Intercity commuter line and the operator provides no power sockets?


  • Even with full passenger loading, the amount of drain if every phone was charged simultaneously would be negligible.


  • At the price Thameslink pays for power, making its passengers lives marginally better is a huge gain for nearly nothing. Retrofitting will be expensive when it finally listens to enough complaints.


  • The vehicles are too hot. Add a trainload of humans at 500w per person and they become much too hot.


  • Too noisy. The open plan design means everyone can hear everything. At least old stock had vestibules so that if thoughtful people like me wanted not to share every new thought with the world, we could go to the doorways for our call.


  • Opposing doubles are too close to avoid knee and ankle bashing. No tables between the fours.


  • There are no quiet cars. Given up?


  • Seats are too narrow. I see that narrow seats allow for wider aisles but they make no one happy. Those standing don’t care if they have enough room in the aisle – they just want a seat. Those seated want seats wide enough for comfort. These suit no one. These are worse than the 2 plus 3s on the Southern stock.


  • I tried to type this blog spot sitting on one of the seats and my left elbow was pushing against the side of my next seat pax. Neither of us was large.


  • Window side seats have a heating duct at ankle height, which means that our legs can’t align straight ahead but have to twist aside.


  • These trains were designed for short urban routes with high loading and short journeys- the similarity to Tube stock is very apparent. Anyone can stand for a trip on the Jubilee Line.


  • However, my section of Brighton to London Bridge is timetabled for over an hour and often takes one and a half hours. Standing for that long on a mainline service is unpleasant and tiring.


  • The Gatwick Express heavy stock for 0732 Brighton London Bridge conveys just as many in comfort. Even the new red 387 stock for that company is better than yours.


  • As a non-comfort item, these trains are just too complex. With the multitude of systems, when one thing goes wrong, it’s a calamity. With the old slam door stock, you could fix any problem by hitting it with a big hammer. I suspect that the committee that commissioned these doesn’t commute on them.


  • On this and other new stock, the pursuit of safety and comfort has overtaken workability and functionality. I am fed up of ctrl-alt-delete being the remedy for stuck trains.


  • New isn’t better.