... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

The age of the train

I unexpectedly had an exciting little travel adventure on Sunday. When I'd arrived on Thursday evening, I'd been intrigued to see this train at Brighton station, and when I left Newhaven on Sunday, it was the 1438, so I got to ride on it.
This is the oldest train in regular service on the British mainland network. It's a class 313, which is the oldest class of train still in regular service, and it's 313201, the first of that class to have been built. It was built in 1976 making it forty-three years old.
What first caught my eye of course is that's painted in facsimile BR livery. This was done a couple of years ago in honour of its status as the first 313, and when it finally is retired, it's off to the National Railway Museum at York. Southern bought up a number of these trains in 2010 to run on the lines along the coast east and west of Brighton, freeing up their newer rolling stock for longer-distance routes. I recall it being quite controversial at the time, as the 313s were seen as old and tatty, and (shock horror) have no toilets. I've probably ridden on 313201 many times when I lived in Newhaven, but never previously knowingly.

Once I got to Brighton, I changed onto the Thameslink. Now Thameslink used to have really scungy trains, but now they have shiny new and very swish class 700 Siemens Desiro City trains, which they introduced between 2015 and 2018, so I reckon they must be among the newest on the network. And I'm pretty sure Brighton is the only place they'd intersect.

I was a bit disappointed to find that my train to Sheffield from St Pancras wasn't one of the slam door and sea toilet HSTs that often seem(ed) to run on a Sunday. They have such comfy (if somewhat saggy) seats. Also, it's amusing watching the young people not knowing how to get out.

I am horribly afraid that I have started down the road track that leads to being a trainspotter. I have nothing against trainspotters; indeed, I am in awe of them. But it must be so time-consuming. And I haven't even spotted all the Grand Union large motor boats yet.


  1. I'd be wary about debating the question of "which is the oldest train" with real trainspotters - detail is very important to them! But whilst the 313's are the oldest electric trains, the slam door HST diesels that you love so much are at least as old and some of the stock on the sleeper trains to the far north of Scotland is a few years older.
    As far as new trains go I travelled from Peterborough to Leeds earlier this month on an LNER class 800 "AZUMA" (a zoomer?) that had only been in service a few days.

    1. I am relying on Wikipedia, but it's one area where I thought it might be pretty accurate :-) According to that the 125s came in between 1975 and 1983, so the oldest ones would have to still be in service (and are any, now, still? I realise I've not seen one for a while). I will defer to you on Scotland and change my claim to relate to England and Wales. Now you're making me want to go and go on a really new train!

    2. Ah! But the "sleepers to the north of Scotland start their journey in London! HSTs have started to disappear from their old routes, but cut-down versions (four carriages) will operate in the West Country and Scotland for years to come. However any still running after the end of the year will have to lose the slam doors due to accessibility regs.

      If you do go on a any of the really new trains take a seat cushion with you!

  2. Sarah,
    For boat spotting you'll need this:
    (Don't know how to post a link, but you could copy and paste)