2 Jan 2014

Government to pay to convert 1st class vehicles to standard

Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, is preparing to pay millions of pounds to turn first-class vehicles to standard-class on First Great Western trains operating into and out of London’s Paddington station.

The simple answer to this is to have a reasonable standard seating density in a single type of vehicle and change the class designation as required. A mark 3 coach will accommodate 76 passengers and their luggage comfortably, which was the arrangement before their most recent refurbishment. The virtual image above illustrates an interior with a mixture of facing bays and airline seating. This gives the same number of seats in a slightly shorter vehicle than the mark three, which could therefore be slightly wider, built almost to the full width of the loading gauge.


  1. Well I for one wouldn't pay more for a first class seat at the same density .. but I don't anyway - so I'm not in a position to comment.

    Surely you are old enough to remember that "standard class" is in fact "second class", or perhaps even old enough to recall that "second class" was really "third class" - I am sufficiently nostalgic to say "2nd class" as a point of stubbornness.

    In other news - you should probably read http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/10551060/HS2-Government-ministers-sat-on-critical-report-by-Department-for-Transport.html if you haven't already..

  2. Third class compartments in the 1930s typically had an effective seat pitch of between 3ft 1in and 3ft 3inches ie 1.95 per facing bay. This was also the standard class seat spacing in mark 2 stock.

    If the vehicles are built to the full width of the loading gauge, they can be 2.82 metres wide externally, ie 2.65 internally from floor level up to elbow height of seated passengers. I would suggest that this is enough for anyone, but it does mean that vehicles probably cannot be more than about 22 metres long. If you want to know what this feels like, it is more or less what you get in a class 180.

  3. ...so lets get this right, you don't want HS2, nor do you want IEP (both of which will provide more capacity and one alternative to HS2 is to convert ICWC trains to either all standard or at least very very little first class) and yet you don't want first class coaches converted to standard class either.

    Unfortunately you can not have it all ways, something has to change to cope with the numbers of passengers in the UK. Tinkering with coaches (which seams to be your answer) will not get very far.

    Also bear in mind the width per seat when the total internal width of the train is 2.65 or 2.57 (2.74m external) is 2cm, but that is still wider than standard class seat and about mid range for first class seats on any aircraft.

  4. No you have got this wrong. I don't want HS2 and I don't want IEP. I have argued that these are not cost effective solutions to the capacity problem. But where did I say I don't want first class coaches converted to standard class? What would be a good idea would be to do what Southern has done with some of its Electrostars which provide a reasonably spacious standard seating layout which can be flexibly designated first or standard according to demand, the main reason for travelling first class being so as not to have to travel with the lower orders.

    There is an arithmetical error in your last paragraph, you might like to correct it and re-post. The standard external width on eg the 26M long French Corail stock is 2.85. Swedish stock is typically 3M to 3.5M wide with 2+2 seating on the inter-city versions. 2.80M width seems a reasonable target with the thinnest practicable bodysides. That is the width of stock such as the class 375 Electrostars, and although these are a nominal 20M long, a slightly longer vehicle appears to be possible at this width without the need for tapering.