700 series trains – the reply from Thameslink

by Steve Wedd

Dear Steve Wadd,

Thank you for your email in regards to the new 700 trains introduced to our service. I would like to apologise for any discomfort you experienced when travelling with us.

I appreciate your comments regarding the safety of a crowded train and we can understand why full trains can cause concerns with safety. It must be made clear that safety is of paramount importance to us and will not be jeopardised.

There is no evidence to suggest that crowded trains carry any additional safety risk. Millions of passengers travel with us each year and travelling by trains continues to be a very safe way to travel. The industry view is that this is an issue of comfort and, although it is less comfortable to stand, there is no significant additional safety risk. We are working closely with industry colleagues to increase the amount of rolling stock, thus increasing capacity during peak times.

I would like to go into some detail in regards to the background, and decisions that went into the design of this new fleet.

These particular trains were designed by Siemens the manufacturer, to meet a specification developed by the Department for Transport in consultation with train operators and other stakeholders. These parties included UK train crew, cleaning and maintenance staff and engineers and were designed specifically for the benefit of the Thameslink Programme. They feature the latest in passenger information technology and intelligent climate control as well as excellent accessibility for passengers with mobility issues and, when fully integrated on to the Thameslink route, we believe they’ll make a real difference to every journey.

Looking at the ratio of seats on board , this was deliberated on at the design stage . A survey prepared for Transport Focus in a joint project with the Department of Transport and London TravelWatch highlighted that “The majority of passengers in the sample recognise the underlying design objective to increase capacity during peak times especially by increasing the ratio of standing spaces to seats rather than how the seats are presented.”

The full research findings are available on the Transport Focus website in a document entitled ‘Thameslink Rolling Stock Qualitative Research’ although we appreciate that many customers do not necessarily agree with this outcome, there is a real balance needed between seating and overall capacity to meet the needs of ever growing customer numbers.

The survey also picked up other areas that were seen as important to the customers surveyed and included:

• Safe and comfortable standing was the number one priority
• Wanted more personal space
• ‘Three plus two’ seating was disliked
• ‘Two plus two’, perch and tip-up seating was welcomed – also on outer routes
• Wider stand-backs around doors welcomed.

I would like to assure you that all feedback that we receive is passed to our engineering team who are currently working alongside Siemens to ensure that these trains meet the current passenger demand. Further to this, following recent feedback, I am pleased to be able to tell you that we will be introducing back seat tables and Wi-Fi which will be retro fitted in the coming months.

Plug sockets were not fitted at the time as most tablets, smartphones and laptops have a good battery life – and as very few Thameslink passengers will have journeys of not much more than an hour, the increased costs outweighed the benefit of being fitted. This has however been discussed further and we are exploring the possibility of having charging points added. The decision on this will be made in the coming months.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. I am sorry that you feel that the quality of your journey has been reduced because of your personal preferences around fixtures and fittings but still hope that the introduction of these trains will improve your experience whilst travelling with us.

Kind Regards

Christopher Errington


Customer Relations Advisor