please empty your brain below

Great report there, very interesting!
Excellent reportage, and posted at 03.45 of course...well played DG.
DG, did you get a media invite, or "just" turn up as a normal punter?
When I saw the news on this yesterday I thought to myself : ' bet DG is on there'.
Nice to be right.
If DG had had a media invitation he would not have been able to go, by his own rules!

In the past twelve months alone new trains have appeared on the suburban lines serving Fenchurch Street, Paddington and Thameslink (the latter destined to run on a new stretch of line later next year). Within the next month Waterloo will also be seeing new trains, with the Moorgate services also within the next year. But they don't seem to be getting the same press attention, because by a historical accident they are not on the Tube map and therefore don't really matter.

People Who Like Trains are obviously to be discouraged - look where the unit number is hidden low down on the underframe - at platforms with level access it won't be visible at all!

Isn't the 'Train to' a bit pointless?

dg writes: It helps distinguish between 'destination' and 'name of current stop'

Interesting that grab polls aren't in contrasting colours to assist the visually impaired.

Initially the lack of yellow on the front makes them look a bit foreign.
Very impressed by these trains. Looking forward to similar new trains (Class 710) on the London Overground lines later this year.

Those have LO corporate orange fronts. :-)
Good to see the windows are "taller" than the ones on London Overground, where you can't see much from the longitudinal seats. I reckon the paired window seats will be as popular as the front/drivers' seats on the DLR. We like a good view as we travel.
Bexley? If the Arrows weren't there, would Network Rail be centred?
I happened to be travelling from Norwich to Leuchars yesterday, and had a 45 minute wait at Peterborough. To my surprise, a new Hitachi train trundled in to the adjacent platform. Most of it was plain white, the doors didn't open, and very few people were visible on the train, but one carriage was decorated in fancy reds and pinks with a row of logos, including DoT, Network Rail, FGW, and of course Virgin.
Extremely pedantic typographic point: the correct way of describing type which abuts the left or right margin is "ranged left" or "ranged right". Type is "justified" only when it abuts both left and right margins.

dg writes: Noted, and tweaked, thanks.
Three sets of doors? Doesn't that cut down on the seats somewhat? Interesting compromise.

As a regular commuter on Thameslink, I think our new trains are great. They looks a bit like these Crossrail ones. There may be fewer seats in each carriage, but the air con makes a big difference in the summer. The display screens also show how busy each carriage is, so passengers can move down to a less busy one if they wish, and indeed the through corridor means you can move up or down before reaching your destination. When they are not completely rammed full that is.

Was there any mention of the "Elizabeth Line" or is that being quietly marginalised in favour of Crossrail? And perhaps that should be "Liverpool Street/Moorgate"?
Interesting post, but just how does 'the length of two football pitches' enable me to guess the extent of the train? Some of us do not have a clue about football pitches so how about, say, 30 London busses or 96 black cabs?

dg writes: My apologies for using unfamiliar units. They'll be the same length as 21 Class 139s, if that helps.
Glad to see Tfl are keeping up with their usual standard of inaccurate info on the display screens.

The fact it will be more than a year before there's interchange with the Northern Line at Liverpool Street makes me fear the electronic displays are too complicated for basic tweaks.

Surely each of those interchange colour bars should be able to be turned on and off according to whether or not the service is available because of things like weekend engineering works.

I would expect it to be someone's job to ensure the engineering info is inputed in advance so the screens can reflect it.

Remember while all those audio announcements may help the blind, they are of no use to the deaf.
In this month's (July) Modern Railways there's an article in Roger Ford's 'Informed Sources' about new stock, including class 345, and the 'bathtub curve' of reliability.
Vast open areas with grab rails near the roof noted....ah..just anticipating the crushes, unfortunate grabbing at random bodies as we shorties can't find anything in reach to hang on to.
Congratulations for being on the first train!

As someone within the rail industry, I can confirm that on TRUST (the industry real-time running system), for the last few days every Shenfield Metro train has had the words "No unit allocation information available" next to it, probably to avoid a rush of 'People who like trains' for the inaugural service!
A great post, and well-done DG for managing to be on this train (however you did it) and for reporting it. With interesting and refreshing comments from Normal People Who Only Like Trains As Part of Life's Rich Tapestry.
"I chatted with Pat and Maureen who were off to Romford..."
DG getting on chatty first-name terms with random strangers – this is very unusual.
@MikeH I am with you on 'two football pitches' so turning to Osborne's Book of Mathematics discovered that this is approximately the length of 14 croquet lawns (to official dimensions). So now I am still as perplexed.
Looks a heckuva lot nicer than the new Thameslink trains.
OMO - Southern please note.
Wonder if all Crossrail services will call at ALL stops from Shenfield to Stratford and thus be overtaken by the faster Shenfield, Romford, Ilford, Stratford service.
They could do with another way of showing undisplayed stations than dots. Dots mean (in London) a limited service. I would have used Chevrons or a series of smaller station ticks without text.
If i remember correctly 14 croquet lawns is approximately 11 and a half water polo pitches but i may be wrong.
And financed with a massive loan from the European Investment Bank. Let's hope they don't call it back in...
Are TfL in breach of disability and equality legislation by not adding toilets to the trains? A Labour politician advised me that this was the case and it could result in court action. There have been terrible stories of wheelchair bound passengers being forced to wet themselves and soilseats - because of no toilets, or toliets not working on other trains. Toliets may be in stations, but that's forcing the disabled and elderly off the trains. These trains travel quite a distance - Reading to Shenfield. Seems really shortsited and backward step. Also parents travelling with children are ignored. Where do you change a nappy on these trains? With trains as long as two football pitches how can TfL justify excluding this provision for the disabled? Very backward thinking by TfL.
What are the odds of you just happening to be there for the first run? I detect a weakening on the never-go-to-things-I'm-invited-to line. Fain to deny it!

dg writes: TfL never invite me to anything. That's fine by me.
Why is this the "first meaningful milestone" of the project? What about the extension of electric services to Maidenhead a month ago, for example*? Or for that matter the withdrawal of direct services from Paddington to the Castle Bar Park branch.

*Every Prime Minister for the last fifty years seems to have had a new transport infrastructure project for their constituency
Cameron - Oxford Parkway
Brown - Alloa branch reopening
Blair - A1(M) extension in North Yorkshire
Major - A1(M) extension in Cambridgeshire
Thatcher - electrification of the East Coast Main Line through Grantham
Callaghan - Inter City 125 to Cardiff
Heath - London Bridge resignalling, inproving services to Bexley/Sidcup
Wilson - electrification Euston to Liverpool

The one exception is Thatcher - no new infrastructure (or trains) in Finchley during her tenure, but the East Coast Main Line was electrified to her home town of Grantham

If Corbyn (or Cable!) becomes prime minister, expect Crossrail 2 to suddently gain favour.

@Le Ver

very few people will travel all the way from Reading to Shenfield, and if they do there are faster ways of doing so by getting an Inter City to Paddington, Crossrail across the middle, and another fast train the other side - two of those trains will have toilets. (Just as very few people will use Thameslink from Gatwick to Cambridge, or go all the way from Upminster to Richmond on the District Line when a quicker route is possible via West Ham (or Fenchurch Street) and Waterloo.

And disability rules are strange in this respect - they say that IF there are toilets, they must be "accessible". But it is not deemed discriminatory to provide no toilets for anyone.

The existing class 315 units have no toilets either, so this is not a backward step for Shenfield line passengers. However, users on the west end of Crossrail, used to toilets on their trains since at least the early 1960s, may feel differently when the 345s finally start emerging from the tunnels at Royal Oak in 18 months time.
@David Perhaps someone who had received an invitation tipped DG off!

Or maybe he just has a super-sense when it comes to all thing transport related!

Either way - how fun. I watched it on the news and looked out for DG, even though I have absolutely no idea what he looks like!
But if you are in a wheelcahir you will choose the most direct route, regardless of how fast the altnatives are.

TfL have to explain why they can provide these long trains and make no provision not just for the the disabled, but also the elderly and of course children.

The disabled are ignored - it may be legal, lets see. But this is the 21st century, and this kind of provision is reasonable.

What is unacceptable is forcing the disabled, the elderly and parents with chidlren to change their route, get off trains because TfL feel no obligation towards them.

Or in TfL land are these trains just aimed at commuters whom Tfl deem not to need them? The disabled, the elderly and parents with young children are not minority groups and these people have to travel at all times as well.
Saw one of these class 345 trains on a siding at Crewe, of all places.
". it is not deemed discriminatory to provide no toilets for anyone."

The clue is in the name. Discrimination implies treating some people differently.

Of course, not providing toilets does discriminate against those who need, or want, toilets. But only in the same sense that not giving out free food on aircraft discriminates against those who are hungry.

The (disgraceful) instances of suffering arising from broken toilets are quite irrelevant here, since they occurred on trains where toilets were advertised and are normally present. The lack of toilets on Crossrail trains has received ample (some say too much) publicity, so no-one can say they were not warned.
From what I see, the "National Rail" is still centred. The icon gives you some illusion.

dg writes: Trust me; I'm not relying on a photo; I was on the train :)
Do they have uncomfortable painted concrete seats like those on the ELL Overground?
Just realised I can extend my list further back to sixty years.
Alec Douglas Hume - Forth Road Bridge and M90 to Kinross
Harold Macmillan - Kent Coast electrification, improving fast services through Bromley

I haven't yet identified anything in Woodford or Warwick during the early/mid 1950s!
I should have explained better: The words themselves are centered, but they squeezed the icon in the narrow space near the left margin. Of course, this makes me wonder why the designers failed in treating the icon as part of the text (It's possible with most design software or even MS Word)

More on the "Crossrail without toilet" topic: TfL clearly expects few or no passengers would travel further than Stratford -- Reading, or Shenfield -- Heathrow. While there are faster alternatives along the way, making people change trains, when they should be able to stay on the whole time, is definitely nonsense.
@ Running Correspondent - what fast trains that stop at the stations you list? Ilford was removed from semi fasts several years ago. Romford only has a half hourly off peak service by Greater Anglia. Nothing run by Greater Anglia serves Romford in the peaks from what I can see. Given the new franchise requires *more* trains from Essex and East Anglia I suspect Romford may be dropped entirely by Gtr Anglia in a few years time. People will have to either go to Stratford and back out or change at Shenfield and then possibly change again depending on their final destination.

Why does every single article about Crossrail *always* end up talking about toilets? The same happens whenever the London Assembly Transport Cttee discuss Crossrail. Is the project cursed by a lavatorial demon?
Which Thameslink service runs direct from Gatwick to Cambridge?

Are there complaints about the absence of toilets on tube trains?
Ah, Patrickov, by Photoshopping in an icon on the other side, I see exactly what you mean!

The unbalanced version looks most odd.
"Which Thameslink service runs direct from Gatwick to Cambridge? "

The grey one on this map. First through train in approximately 18 months time
I sampled today's service and was impressed. The dark grey interior is far more stylish than I imagined and the large windows provide ample light. Even under the shadow of Liverpool Street's roof it felt bright enough inside. Seats are comfortable, both longitudal and bays. TfL cleaners boarded at start and destination. I don't know if this is normal practice on this line but I noticed the lack of bins. It was wonderfully cool inside, the three doors and walk-through carriages should be welcomed. Some of the announcements missed the first syllable of the first word.

The ride was smooth and like DG many non-train fan passengers were excited about the new trains. I spotted (!) passengers from other trains pointing. The front end is still to grow on me. I think the artist impressions of the new version for First Group's South West franchise look more "metro" but these are a vast improvement on the incumbent stock.

I'm interested to see how eventually Crossrail (sorry Elizabthe line) is signposted at Liverpool Street. Will all tube passengers interchanging be directed to the low-level platforms because it will be deemed easier than those heading east finding the high-level platforms through the crowds on the concourse? Meanwhile if you enter the national rail station how will they signpost the low level station vs the eastbound only service from the high-level? Might the high-level service be a more discreet option that regular City types use both out of habit and because they know they will more likely guarantee them a seat over the eastbound service from the low-level station which has already attracted passengers from central London?
DG beats London Reconnections to the punch once again!
Noticed the posting time too, clever :-)
Won't have to get up so early to post about SWT's new Class 707s........... :-)
Re toilets and Thameslink - the new TL trains have 2 huge toilets that take up half a carriage each, and the whole train smells of toilet disinfectant, thanks to the walk-through carriages. The new crossrail trains look, and hopefully smell, much nicer.
I managed to catch the return train yesterday from Stratford! I might have seen you, who knows :)
So no bins and no toilets - I wonder what the thinking is there - reducing the cost of hiring and outside maintenance company (reducing running costs) or this plus security considerations l wonder . . .
South Western Railway,which like the train operations of the Elizabeth Line,are owned by First MTR,have just ordered 60 10 ten car,& 30 5 car versions of these to replace 455,456,458,& 707s.10 car units will operate suburban,Windsor,& Hounslow loop services.5 car versions will have 1st class accomodation,and will be used on Reading services.

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