The Issue: 65% of trains on the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Portsmouth - Waterloo line are now blue 450 class high density suburban stock which have replaced the popular white 444s which were designed for mainline use. With 5 seats across and no arm rests in Standard, limited leg room with no space to work, and a narrow aisle which precludes a trolley service, passengers are finding the 450s unacceptably cramped and uncomfortable for this long distance journey. This is a Health and Safety issue and many passengers are complaining of bad backs and other problems related to the seating. The manufacturer's specification clearly shows these trains were not designed for long distances and until recently the route maps displayed above the exit doors clearly showed that 450s were not meant to deploy south of Guildford. Waterloo to Portsmouth is an Inter-City or Principal Route of 110 minutes duration.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The Excuses: SWT claim their new franchise commitment requires them to provide 21% more main line seats to cater for increasing demand, partly brought about by new housing developments and hence more commuters in the SWT area. A 12-car 450 has 140 more seats than a 10-car 444 train.

The Facts: SWT figures show that, of the 135 daily services, only 5 at peak times are even remotely busy, and then only between Woking and Waterloo. The latest DfT document "Southern Regional Planning Assessment for the railway - Jan 07" makes no mention of overcrowding on this line. Despite SWT's insistence, overcrowding simply is not an issue. We believe the introduction of these trains may be a cost cutting exercise, although SWT hotly deny this. The popular Wessex Electrics on the London to Weymouth route have been withdrawn and no provision has been made to replace them with suitable mainline trains. White Class 444s have largely been diverted from Portsmouth to the Weymouth route. This radical change was made with minimal notice to passengers.

The Solution: The number of white 444 class trains should be increased and returned to Portsmouth services as soon as possible. The blue 450 class trains should be transferred to London suburban lines where they are can usefully ameliorate overcrowding, particularly on the Reading-Waterloo line where the unreliable and unpopular 458 class trains urgently need replacement.


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  • Hoggy Modlo Stop whining and be grateful you have electric modern trains. If you had to go on pacers instead I think you would be willing to pay double the fare to get a Class 450. Needs to be phased out? Well if you hate them so much then please do tell how it is expected to dump these 11 year old trains and buy brand new ones, while customers in the SW and North are putting up with 35 year old bouncy pieces of junk. You have no idea how lucky you are to get a Class 450 train. How would you feel if all of a sudden instead of getting 4x20m worth of seating was replaced with 2x15m worth of bus seating, half of these trains don't even have real seats, and you're complaining because your lovely modern electric train has some small seats, boo hoo! I forgot, these electric trains don't leak either, and how could I forget that they don't set on fire easily, and have lovely air conditioning too. I guess that modern trains just aren't worth giving to London commuters if they are to complain about them so much. The class 444 electric train is 5x23m, however due to this grouping of trains, it makes it hard to have flexible sizing of units, meaning the trains would have trouble fitting on the platforms, heck, even two 4 car class 450s (total 8x20m) have trouble fitting in stations such as Hilsea, how is it expected for two 5 car class 444s (total 23x10m) to fit in such tiny stations. This would make it impossible for these longer trains to operate in long formation, so busier trains would either have to overhang platforms, increasing station dwell times, or be criminally short-formed.

    Maybe next time you should think before you start complaining about your state-of-the-art trains. I happen to have ridden all 3 of the trains discussed, and Class 450's seats are perfectly fine.

  • Mark de la Haye Not fit for purpose - the 450 really needs to be phased out.

  • james pearce The 450 is horrid why is swt so ignorant

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