Sunday 14th August 2022
I wrote about the lovely two new trains for Southend Pier after my visit back in May when unfortunately teething problems meant they weren’t out on the tracks so was pleased to be able to fit in time to take a ride on my recent trip to Foulness Island when one of the trains was in service.
They really are a great improvement on the old faithfuls and their splendid nod to nostalgia green and cream livery is a great touch.
As I reported previously there’s a great forward view from the front carriage (and rear view from the rear) which wasn’t possible on the old trains….
…. and wider doors create much more space inside for passengers.
Internal screens can display messages and there are spaces for wheelchair users.
They’re certainly worth a ride if you’re in Southend-on-sea.
And if you do, don’t leave the shore end of the Pier without a visit to the Pier Museum.
It’s a treasure trove of nostalgia, not least as there’s one of the original green and cream liveried trams on display to really bring back memories for those of us who used to visit Southend regularly for holidays in the 1960s.
The entire railway comprised double track right down the pier including a signal box at the midway point.
Meanwhile on the West Coast Main Line, Avanti West Coast’s programme of refurbishing its entire former Virgin fleet of Class 390 Pendolino trains is progressing well with more now out on the network.
I had my first ride on one on a recent journey back from Birmingham and although I must admit I’ve never been a fan of the Class finding the shallow windows and body style slightly cramped and claustrophobic, there’s no doubt this makeover is an improvement on what went before.
The seats have been upgraded with the same style as used in First Group owned Lumo in standard class compete with winged head rests.
Their slightly more comfortable than the old seats they’ve replaced but it’s still a little cramped. Leg room is the same as before and is adequate.
Obviously there’s still the issue of non-window window seats…
,,,, because you can’t rebuild a coach in a refurbishment.
One thing you can do is install the much welcomed power and usb sockets which are now available at the base of every seat in standard class whereas before you had to make a dash for the window seat on the tables to enjoy such a luxury accessory.
Talking of tables, the flip up tables continue …..
….. although not everywhere – I’ve never been sure why some tables are fixed and some flippable.
New internal screens promise updated information for passengers although the system hasn’t been initiated yet.
Luggage racks have had a makeover and offer the all important flexibility to accommodate the ever increasing size of those wardrobes on wheels people travel around with these days. Something that other First Group subsidiary, Lumo, really needs to sort out.
The shop in coach C has had a compete redesign and better suits contemporary needs of customers and the company.
The toilets are much the same as before except all references to balloons (ex Virgin) have gone in favour of a rather in-your-face Avanti colour scheme in the accessible toilets.
Spaces for wheelchair users have been clearly delineated in both standard class….
….and first class.
As previously reported in a recent blog one of the former first class/standard premium coaches has been converted to standard class significantly increasing the number of seats …
….while the standard premium coach has head rest covers to denote its different from ….
…. the otherwise exact same standard in the next door first class coach (which can be reclassified as standard premium as required by the addition of appropriately worded headrest covers) but both classes now sport wireless charging options on the tables for those smartphones so enabled.
Finally, the doors all now have much improved external signs indicating the departure time, where the train is going and the next station the train stops at.
It’s an improvement and a timely one after around 20 years of intensive service but I’m still not an ardent fan. All we need now is more extensive timetables on which they can run.
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