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| 1 minute read

Call for new "level boarding" trains for Southeastern’s rollingstock upgrade

The importance of customer convenience, such as easy wheelchair, buggy and luggage access, is reflected in Southeastern's latest tender, with a call for five train manufacturers to bid to replace the existing 30 year old fleet with modern trains featuring low-floors for improved level boarding from the platform, and both air conditioning and toilets.

It has been recognised that platform to train access is a difficult issue within the Southeastern network, with a wide-enough variation in platform heights (10cm) to create significant issues for wheelchair users. Will we see new innovations on these trains for compensating for these height variations, thus avoiding the need for costly and inconvenient platform upgrades?

Another innovation being requested for these trains is the provision of emergency battery power. This needs to be provided to ensure that the train can be moved even if the third-rail power supply fails. Such failures, although uncommon, will leave a train stranded, potentially with passengers on board. If such passengers need to alight trackside, then all power on adjacent tracks needs to be shut down, making repairs and power restoration more complicated.

Looking forward to see what solutions get proposed and to seeing the new rollingstock in London, East Sussex and Kent, once in service - hopefully by 2027.


“We want customers at Southeastern to be able to travel independently and with confidence,” said White. “And one of the barriers to achieving that at the moment is the step between the platform and the train. If we could make that level, it would be great news for wheelchair users, for people with buggies, for customers with luggage - it’s just a positive development on a railway.”


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