måndag 31 december 2007

Southern success story

These Electrostars are not the best designed trains ever to have run in Britain and as they are still being turned out, it is unfortunate that everyone has set their faces against some of the improvements that might have been possible, such as getting some extra width and developing proper long-distance version with doors at the ends instead of in the middle where they cause a draught and overload the heating and air con system and result in wasted space which could be used for more seating. And when the track is less than perfect, the ride is still as wild as ever. But that is how things are in Britain - people refuse to acknowledge problems.

That said, it is usually possible to find a comfortable seat, which is more than can be said for Voyagers, Pendolinos and the latest horrible refurbishment for First Great Western, on which the general verdict is negative. Indeed, for a long journey, I would rather travel in an Electrostar than any of the other trains mentioned.

But the real success story is that the operators and manufacturers have got on top of the complexities of these trains and they are running nearly as reliably as the simple and robust slam door stock which they replaced, so there must be a lot of people out there who deserve a pat on the back.

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