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Siemens Thameslink rolling stock

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Siemens class 700, face onTransport minister Stephen Hammond said the government ‘cannot guarantee’ recovery of Britain’s domestic rail industry as he unveiled a German-built train ‘mockup’ commissioned for London’s Thameslink, the Guardian reported (28 January 2013). The Class 700 mockups were displayed for ‘stakeholders’ and the press at the ExCel conference centre in east London yesterday, and for public viewing today (29 Jan).

[‘Rail minister casts doubt on future of UK manufacturing’, Sean Farrell, The Guardian, 28 Jan]

Siemens is building the energy-efficient Class 700 train for the government’s £6.5bn upgrade to the Thameslink network, which runs through London from Brighton to Bedford and is being extended to Cambridge and Peterborough.

Surely the time to display ‘mockups’ would have been at the project definition stage, rather than after design freeze. After jigs have been created and metal has been cut, there is very little scope to incorporate public feedback, or optimise anything. No engineering or layout drawings, and few technical details, appear to be available, so it’s difficult to assess provision for airport passengers’ luggage, etc.

Siemens class 700, First class

Previous builds of Siemens trains for the GB market have been so energy hungry that hundreds of millions of pounds had to be spent on upgrading power supplies. The Class 700 features a new lighter-weight bogie called the SF-7000, but how energy efficient the trains really are, is open to question. The decision has been taken to acquire a fleet of fixed formation 8-car and 12-car trains, which probably isn’t a particularly good fit with demand (or energy efficiency) over the course of the day.

Siemens class 700, seat grab handlesThere is a minor passenger space advantage in not having so many driving cabs, but it still looks like barmy planning. If there is a fault with just one carriage, an entire 8-car or 12-car unit would have to be taken out of service. Like Boris Johnson’s New Bus for London, the Class 700 appears to have no openable windows or backup ventilation, so in the event of airconditioning problems, things could quickly get unpleasant.

The current Class 319 Thameslink stock has standard class 2 + 3 seating, but in the Class 700 it is 2 + 2. Much of the bigged-up ‘capacity increase’ in the Class 700 comes simply from having a larger fleet of trains, and more standing room.

The Class 700 mockup interiors look quite cold, plasticky, and just not thought through properly. The seats don’t look particularly comfortable, but who knows, they might be better than they appear. The provision for standees to hold on looks inadequate, and the ridges on the awkwardly-sited seat handgrabs are likely to be bacteria traps.

The heavy-set front ends of the Class 700 have a full width cab formed from what looks like large plastic or fibreglass mouldings, rather than environmentally-friendlier contoured sheet metal. It’s difficult to tell how much of the driver’s windscreen is swept by the centrally-situated wiper blade.

Other readily-apparent shortcomings can be seen in the toilet design. The excuse for a washbasin is likely to result in water going all over the floor.

Discover Thameslink class 700 flyer


Written by beleben

January 29, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Industry, Planning, Politics

One Response

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  1. […] the Beleben blog noted in January 2014, much of the bigged-up ‘capacity increase’ in Siemens Class 700 trains, ordered […]

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