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15 May 2024

Southeastern announces major step towards multi-million-pound improvement in Metro train fleet

Southeastern announces major step towards multi-million-pound improvement in Metro train fleet: Class 465 Networker-2

  • Southeastern is inviting the rail industry to provide new or upgraded trains for Metro services.
  • Current fleet provides more than 900 services and tens of thousands of journeys every day between parts of Kent and south-east and central London.
  • This could be the largest investment in the Southeastern network since the introduction of the highspeed service in 2009.

One of the UK’s biggest and busiest passenger train operators is delighted to announce it has taken an important step towards delivering a multi-million-pound investment to improve its fleet of Metro trains.  

Southeastern, which provides up to half a million journeys every day across south-east London, Kent and parts of Sussex, operates a mixed fleet of trains across Highspeed, longer distance Mainline services and its commuter-style, Metro, services.

Southeastern’s Metro services link busy London terminals such as Victoria, Charing Cross and Cannon Street with south-east London and parts of Kent, including Dartford, Sevenoaks, Grove Park and Gillingham.

As part of Southeastern’s goal of building a better, more reliable and sustainable railway, Southeastern has now published an Invitation to Negotiate with a number of shortlisted bidders. This includes a range of options, including new trains, trains cascaded in from other parts of the country or upgrading the current fleet. 

This could be the largest investment in Southeastern for decades, but would also benefit taxpayers in the south-east and beyond as a new or improved Metro fleet would reduce maintenance and repair costs and be more energy efficient - all helping to reduce taxpayer subsidy and, in turn, encourage more people to travel by train.

The precise details of the improved fleet will be developed during the next stage of the procurement process but improvements could include:

  • Improved accessibility to maximise unassisted boarding – developed alongside The Rail Safety & Standards Board, Network Rail and manufacturers
  • Brighter and more spacious interiors in order to provide more space for more customers on our growing railway
  • Air conditioning to provide a better and more comfortable environment, particularly as our summers become warmer
  • Improved customer information to keep customers up-to-date and to plan onward journeys
  • More reliable trains with improved acceleration and braking to help deliver a more punctual and low-cancellation railway
  • Onboard batteries to keep trains running in the event of power supply failure as well as enhancing safety in stations, depots and sidings

The timescales for the introduction of the trains will also be developed as part of the procurement process. However, Southeastern has set bidders challenging targets to deliver as soon as possible.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said:

“This is great news for the rail manufacturing industry and forms part of an estimated £3.6bn to support the sector in the coming years, making us one of the largest in Europe by the end of the decade.

“This Government continues to back rail manufacturers and today’s announcement demonstrates the UK market is a strong one, supporting high skilled jobs and boosting the economy right across the country.

“Modernising rolling stock is crucial to delivering a sustainable, reliable and growing rail network, encouraging more people to travel by train, and I’m pleased millions of passengers will be able to benefit from this investment for generations to come.”

Steve White, Managing Director, Southeastern, said:

“As part of our commitment to building a better, more reliable and sustainable railway we are pushing forward with our plans to develop our Metro operation into a high-performing railway.   

“We are working at pace, with our partners at Network Rail, to improve performance, expand our timetable, enhance our stations and increase staffing levels. The final piece of the jigsaw will be the replacement of our aging Metro fleet.   

“Despite the sterling work of our people to keep our current Metro fleets in service, our customers will know only too well that many of the trains are tired and, in terms of accessibility and customer facilities, have fallen behind what is available elsewhere on the Southeastern network and across the country.    

“We are now inviting competitive offers from our short-listed suppliers and want to bring modern rolling stock to our railway for the benefit of customers and taxpayers.  

“To ensure we make the right choice we will be working closely with Network Rail, the Rail Safety and Standards Board, our Accessible Travel Advisory Panel, the Trades Unions and the Department for Transport. There is a lot of work ahead, but the prize is significant.”   

Southeastern is inviting competitive offers for new, refurbished or modern cascaded rolling stock for the benefit of customers and taxpayers. In this video, our Managing Director, Steve White explains the potential customer benefits of new trains.

It is too early to confirm specific designs or principles but when more information is available we will inform our customers and stakeholders. However, we can confirm the following manufacturers have been shortlisted for the Invitation to Negotiate for the potential manufacturer of new trains:

  • Alstom
  • CAF
  • Hitachi
  • Siemens
  • Stadler

Southeastern has also produced a customer FAQ to answer any further questions customers or stakeholders may have – it is available on our Train Improvements Page


Contact information

Andrew Commons

Head of External Communications

Southeastern Railway


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