Sunday 26th May 2019
Train manufacturer Bombardier has at last finally sorted the software issues on the new Class 710 trains for London Overground’s Gospel Oak to Barking route and the much delayed trains entered public service for the first time last Thursday. As operator Arriva Trains London organise more drivers fully trained to drive the new trains it’s hoped the scheduled fifteen minute frequency timetable can soon be restored for the line’s long suffering passengers who’ve endured over two months of a reduced half hourly service on top of previous periods of bus replacements during the botched electrification. I covered the history of this in a blog back in January.
So far two new trains have been slotted into the schedule allowing a somewhat akward temporary 15-15-30 minute frequency timetable to operate alongside the spare Class 378 trains which have been keeping the service going since the beginning of the year as the former Class 172 trains were withdrawn for their new life in the West Midlands.
By coincidence last Thursday I was enjoying a ride on one of those lovely refurbished Class 172 trains on the newly linked up Leamington Spa to Nuneaton via Coventry line. They really are great trains to ride in with fairly comfortable seats laid out forward and rear facing and with an accessible toilet on board too.
They make for an interesting comparison to the new Class 710 trains now on the GOBLIN line which I took a ride on yesterday.
Plus points about the new trains: they’re actually in service; they’re electric so quicker acceleration away from stations than the Class 172 diesels; they’ve got an easily accessible accessible area at both ends for passengers using wheelchairs, buggies and cycles. They look quite slick with a smart orange front.
That’s about it.
I don’t like longitudinal seats which line both sides all along the four coach trains. Even the Metropolitan Line Underground S stock trains manage a few sets of front and rear facing seats (which always get bagged first). One of the joys of train travel is looking out of the windows. Longitudinal seats make this impossible unless you want a crooked back and cricked neck through contortioning yourself to look behind you as well as annoying the person sitting next to you in the process, or trying to look out of the opposite window between the two people sitting facing you without them thinking you’re staring at them.I understand capacity issues mean such seating, which allows plenty of standing room, is now necessary meaning 700 passengers can squeeze aboard; but it’s not nearly so nice for travelling pleasure.
The new trains have four walk through coaches we’ve become used to on Underground S stock, Class 378s (and 385s) and the Siemens Class 700, 707 and 717s as well as overhead passenger information systems telling you the destination and next few stations.Whereas Thameslink and South Western Railway display the status of London Underground as part of the sequence of images on these signs, London Overground don’t, which is a bit odd as they’re both part of TfL.
There’s also a screen on the cove panels (shown above in the side panel and below) which provides information; currently it’s corporate stuff telling you what’s on the train, such as wifi and usb points as well as the date and time, but no doubt there are future plans to invade our journeys with video clips featuring commercial adverts. No; please not.
Those usb sockets are towards the end of each carriage and can be accessed by the end seat or standing between the carriages by the concertina bit.
But there aren’t many, compared for example to the D Train Class 230 I recently reviewed where sockets have been provided at every seat, including the longitudinal ones.
There’s not much more to say about these trains so to conclude, here’s my top five ranking for ‘New Trains in 2019 Impressiveness and Wow Factor’ so far:
- Class 230/D Train (Vivarail – West Midlands Trains)
- Mark 5 Sleepers (Caledonian Sleepers)
- Azumas (LNER)
- Class 717 (Great Northern)
- Class 710 (London Overground – Arriva Trains London)
As a last resort to get a view of the passing London suburban scenery from S stock, Class 348 etc, I stand by the doors, non-platform side, obviously.
Class 378, not 348.
About the only option!
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As I am one of the long-suffering passengers on the GOBLIN who has been waiting impatiently for the 710s to arrive, I’m actually delighted with them. Apparently a full 15 minute timetable starts on Saturday 8 June – the limiting factor is the number of drivers that have bee trained, so fingers crossed.
They’re a step-up firstly on the diesel 2 car 172s, as we can actually get on the damned things in rush hour. Try visiting Blackhorse Road at 1730 and see how busy it can get. They’re also a step-up on the 378s that have been providing the stopgap electric service. The layout is open – 378s have random glass panels all over the place between seats etc., you don’t bang your head on the destination box and the seats are actually OK and comfortable to sit on.
As for the minus points you raised. If the screens play video advertising, so what? They don’t have speakers so are unlikely to have sound associated with it. Just ignore them, like everyone will. The screens don’t show Underground status – that’s one I’ll give you, but I’ve read that it’s planned to appear. And the TfL layout for these screens is better than GTR on the 700 and 717 as it only gives you the bare bones information you need without having to read the rest of the unnecessary rubbish. Only a few USB points. Good. They’ll only get damaged by the lovely clientele we have in London, and who has time to charge their phone on a short journey? If you’re that desperate, stand up in the articulation area.
The Class 710 London Overground Aventra trains do look amazing. Haven’t been on them just yet but I do that more are coming to London Overground throughout this year. Including on the West Anglia lines (Liverpool St-Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town), Romford-Upminster. Euston-Watford DC, Stratford-Richmond (North London Line) and Willesden Junction-Clapham Junction (West London Line). As the Class 710 have entered service on the Gospel Oak-Barking Line which has replaced the Class 172/0s to West Midlands Railway.
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