For my sins I spend around 15 hours a week commuting on the Thameslink line between London and Brighton.
Since the franchise passed to Govia, we have been promised new trains. It now appears we have them. I have got on new rolling stock twice today and my bewilderment over the things that appear to be wrong has only increased.
The good points
I should acknowledge some improvements. The on board electronic information (see main photo) is much better and clearer, including details on how busy carriages are and whether the on board toilets are working.
The awkward interconnecting doors have largely been removed. They were rubbish and broke continually.
What isn’t so good?
In two journeys, this is what I’ve noticed so far.
1) The number of seats has been reduced. This seems like an enormous issue. The trains may now be 12 coaches long, but giving people more room in which to stand isn’t exactly a progressive move.
Given the frequency with which coaches seem to break I can’t see 12 coach trains being constant.
2) There are no arm-rests. If you cut the number of seats you could at least make it comfy for those who aren’t standing. But no. Anyone with an oversized rear end or sharp elbows will make their companion very uncomfortable,
Is this really such a cost-saving against passenger comfort?
3) No increase in baggage storage. The Thameslink line travels to 2 of the country’s biggest airports: Gatwick and Luton. Lots of people use the train to get to and from these airports and travel with large suitcases.
There never used to be adequate space to stow this luggage. There still isn’t. A massive oversight
4) Tables and seat back trays removed. These are commuter trains. People spend hours on them (see para 1). This means they want to work to make the most of their time.
They will now have to awkwardly balance their laptop on their knees (yes, I know it’s called a ‘lap’top for a reason), which isn’t hugely comfortable.
5) No charging points. Intermediate rolling stock had plug sockets to allow phone/laptop charging. No more!
I tweeted this oversight and received this reply from @TLRailUK
Why would you build something without and then be forced to add afterwards?
Where are the user needs in all of this?
When you design a new product, you ask what customers want! In a commuter train, you’d be looking for comfort, useful functionality, seats… you get my drift?
I get the impression these new trains have been designed with not a single piece of customer feedback.
I pay Govia in excess of £4k a year to use their trains. The least they could do is solicit opinons from me (or people like me).
Prove me wrong Govia, or at the very least show me what audience research you did.