South coast line to be served with old toilet-free trains for foreseeable future

Posted On 28 Oct 2015 at 4:55 pm

Passengers travelling between Portsmouth and Brighton will have to travel on the UK’s oldest electric trains still running for the foreseeable future as there are currently no plans to replace them.

Class 313 train by Phil Richards on Flickr

Class 313 train by Phil Richards on Flickr

The Class 313 trains, which have no toilet facilities, were introduced on the West Coastway routes in 2010, to the dismay of passengers.

Now, Hove MP Peter Kyle is calling on Southern to put the creaking carriages out of their misery.

Mr Kyle said this week: “The oldest electric trains still in operation in the UK look set to get even older as the Government has confirmed there are no plans for their replacement.

“This is a real blow to long suffering passengers in Hove and Portslade who have had to endure these trains across West Coastway routes, operating services to destinations as far away as Portsmouth and with no toilet facilities, and now seemingly with no end in sight!”

In response to a parliamentary question from Peter Kyle, rail minister Claire Perry said: “The rolling stock operated by individual train operators is a detailed operational matter for them.

“They must decide what rolling stock is deployed on particular routes and services. Govia Thameslink Railway, the operator of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise into which Southern services merge on 26 July 2015, has included no plans to replace this fleet on the West Coastway.”

Ms Perry also said Southern was only aware of two customer complaints about the lack of loos – although a simple Twitter search throws up many more (full disclosure – including one from the author of this story).

She said: “We are aware of two complaints from Southern’s customers, and two letters from honourable members, about the lack of toilet facilities on Class 313 trains that run services between Hove and West Coastway stations since their introduction in 2010.”

A Southern spokesperson said: “Our Class 313 trains are generally used on local stopping services where the average journey for the vast majority of passengers is less than half an hour.

“Not all Brighton to Portsmouth services are operated by trains without toilets. Around two thirds are operated by trains with toilets. We’ve invested thousands of pounds to reopen or refurbish some toilets on the coastway and we make sure that passengers know whether their train will have a toilet.”

  1. Rob Reply

    If the train does indeed go all the way to Portsmouth, it is unacceptable that they do not have toilets on, especially seeing as you still have to pay at Brighton toilets to further line the coffers of the private company Southern. Why not use the old rolling stock of the trains they are finally replacing on the mainline bedford service?

  2. Howard Reply

    I am astonished by the minister’s claim that there have been only two complaints about this, and I just don’t believe it. Either Southern are being disingenuous, or she is.

    Just of the record, it takes an hour and twenty minutes to get to Portsmouth from Brighton.

    But there is (as I discovered when complaining about this withdrawal of amenity in 2010) no requirement on any train operator to offer toilet facilities, regardless of distance. Even if you were going from Penzance to Inverness, it would be down to them, and a minister would be able to say ‘not me, guv’nor’. Welcome to privatised Britain!

  3. Henry Page Reply

    These trains came into service just before the 2012 London Olympics. They were refurbished after the Olympics had finished. I understand they were 43 years old when first put into service on the Coastway service. That would make them 49 years old, i.e. built in 1968. Note that the above article, although saying they are the UK’s oldest electric trains, no age is actually given.

  4. Cedric Lynch Reply

    The Class 313 trains were built in the mid 1970s originally for the Great Northern inner-suburban services to London Moorgate. They have no toilets because several of the stations on this line are underground and the train toilets of that time dumped their contents onto the track. Also they have narrower and lower bodies than normal trains because the line between Moorgate and Finsbury Park is a former London Underground route in bored Tube tunnel. This tunnel had no room for the overhead electrification that had just been installed on the rest of the GN inner suburban system, hence the 313s also have the third-rail pickup shoes which make it possible to run them in the Brighton area. Under the overhead wires the 313s have very rapid acceleration to 75mph, so they give the Great Northern passengers a much faster journey than the DMUs they replaced in 1976. On third rail their official top speed is only 30mph, but fortunately they will in fact go faster than that.

  5. Pauline Jacobs Reply

    I would like to know if toilets are available on train from Angmering to Southampton .
    My daughter is disabled and needs a toilet. She has to attend Southampton hospital for tests so needs to know what facilities are on the train .
    I would appreciate anyone’s reply on this matter
    Thank you

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