Trains

These are my personal thoughts on some of the trains used in the UK on the National Rail network. These are from the perspective of an able-bodied person who happens to be 6'2" (so if I'm not complaining about the height or legroom or something, it's probably adequate).

Class 68/Mk.3 Set (Chiltern Railways)

  • Shockingly roomy passenger saloon - it really shows how much space certain multiple-unit classes lose to equiptment and machinery (or shrodinger's tilt - lookin' at you 220s)
  • Very comfortable but very dated interior
  • The class 68 is shocklingly loud but the ride (at least nearer the DVT end of the train) is exceptionally smooth and not at all noisy
  • Some of the old Mk.3 coaches are weirdly squeaky though
68012 Chiltern Main Line Leamington 18-06-15 (18313850493)

Class 139 Parry People Mover (West Midlands Railway/Pre-Metro)

  • A bizzare little contraption
  • The flywheel drive means sometimes you hear the engine spin up randomly while the thing is parked at a station
  • Unexpectedly jerky ride and lots of beeping from the driving cab
  • Was rather novel to see that there were no proper cab doors - though I don't suppose there'd be any reason to have them.
  • The three minutes I spent on board generated no further comments
West Midlands Railway Class 139 002 at Stourbridge Junction Platform 1

Class 158 Express Sprinter (Transport for Wales)

  • Comfortable! Good seats and a relatively spacious cabin
  • Lots of engine noise and some vibration inside
  • Head-hittingly low vestibules
Brel Class 158 158835

Class 170 Turbostar (CrossCountry)

  • Good seats!
  • Can get very, very overcrowded (who on earth thought it was a good idea to put a single 2-car on Cardiff to Nottingham)
  • Amusingly large amounts of vibration on acceleration when they kick into top gear
  • Relatively quiet inside the cabin
Arriva CrossCountry Class 170 170637 (42231978224)

Class 172 Turbostar (West Midlands Railway)

  • Trim and proper trains
    • Note that this doesn't apply to the unrefurbished ex-Chiltern /1 sets - they suck.
  • Decently well refurbished, brighter and less cramped feeling than similar CrossCountry trains
  • Pretty quiet cabin
  • Often run in pairs of two-car sets where one has end gangways and one doesn't, which is deeply deeply cursed
WMT Class 172 Pair at Birmingham Moor Street

Class 196 Civity (West Midlands Railway)

  • Exceptionally striking and modern looks with a very well-suited livery
  • Is whisper quiet inside the cabin, and not exactly very noisy outside
  • Squeaky brakes
  • Has the typical rough CAF ride quality
  • Seats are ergonomic but very hard and noticeably close together
    • Also: armrests??
  • Shockingly good PA system though
196101 at Worcester July 2020

Class 220 Voyager (CrossCountry)

  • Both good and not so good
  • Very comfortable seats, though legroom could be a squeak better
  • Have a good ride and sound nice
  • The profile designed to allow tilting operation makes them feel cramped and they have a tendency to overcrowd because of their route allocations
    • The crampiness tends to be worse when travelling on them at night because of the way the lighting is inside
  • They make the platforms at New Street unpleasant to wait on with their fumes ._.
  • I hit my head on the vestibule ceilings
220014 Arrives at Southampton Central 2015-03-21

Class 221 Super Voyager (CrossCountry, Avanti West Coast)

  • Functionally very similar (if not identical) to the 220s
  • @avanti thank you for having proper bike storage areas
Class 221

Class 222 Meridian (East Midlands Railway)

  • Run down and generally not very clean
  • Better than the 220/221 sets but still not incredible
EMR 222104 at Nottingham

Class 323 (West Midlands Railway)

  • These sound phenomenal
  • Old, and not exceptionally comfortable
  • The PA speakers are entertainingly crusty sounding and the conductor's announcements are garbled beyond recognition 80% of the time
  • Cabin is drab
  • Their replacement with 730s is well due but will be sad to see them go
    • I once got an excited high-five from someone after telling them that the 323s would soon be replaced
323214 Aston

Class 323 (Northern)

  • Old, still not exceptional comfortable BUT far better maintained than the WMR ones
  • These ones actually have good, white (not yellow) lighting that makes the cabin feel much nicer
  • USB chargers and nice modern PIS LCD displays on the end of every car are well appreciated.
Northern 323232 at Stockport, Platform 3a, Jan 2022 03

Class 350 Desiro (London Northwestern Railway)

  • Some of the better trains on the network - quiet, reliable, spacious.
  • Generally pretty comfortable (provided you don't get a 350/2)
    • The notable exception to this is that the 350/2 has more comfortable first-class seats than the other subclasses. Which was unexpected.
  • Refurbished units are typically in good nick and are plenty comfortable for the services they operate
    • Legroom 👍
  • Some proper bike spaces are very much desperately needed
20220903 LNR 350114 350124

Class 360 Desiro (East Midlands Railway)

  • Less decent trains - pretty much just a worse version of the class 350
  • The 3+2 seating needs to go, and fast please
  • The seats are also worn out and uncomfortable
  • Despite often working in pairs, there are no end gangways fitted
  • Looks very swish in EMR colours
CL360 KET

Class 390 Pendolino (Avanti West Coast)

  • It's fast!
  • Very smooth ride except for when it inexplicably judders forwards and back, which is somewhat frequently
  • The tilt works and is very, very novel when you first experience it
  • While the seats are very solid, they're also very comfortable - though you can see why they're gradually refurbishing these
    • Turns out the seats on the refurbed ones are HARD and far less comfortable. Well done Avanti.
  • The doors take a comically long time to open and close
Pendolino at Brandon Wood, geograph 7129326 by David Robinson

Class 700 Desiro City (Thameslink)

  • Inside these units are moden, bright and airy and generally quite pleasant to be inside of
  • Exterior looks are pretty nice
  • Self-driving in the Thameslink core section, which is very cool
  • The ironing boards seats suck though
700110 - London Blackfriars 3T13

Class 730 Aventra (West Midlands Railway)

I was able to ride the inaugural 730 service in the West Midlands on 2024-02-12 - the 2241 from Birmingham New Street to Wolverhampton aboard 730018! It had a very potent new-train smell to it - I'm decently confident it was the first passenger service that unit had seen. The photo you see for this train is my own, from that journey.

  • Quiet, smooth, sleek, airy and modern - overally very, very nice trains
    • The cab-ends painted in the slightly peachier orange than the rest of the train are a notably pretty touch
  • These are definitely trains that are better sutied to the Cross City line than the 323s, and they're generally nicer places to be.
  • They have proper bike spaces, wider areas around the doors to help with crowding during peak times, walk-through carriages and crisp PIS displays
  • Table seats on the Cross City line is going to be very peculiar - hell, seeing these on the Cross City line full-stop is going to be weird
  • I do get the feeling that the door buttons are in a slightly annoying place on the inside, but time will tell on this front
West Midlands Railway class 730 at Birmingham New Street

Class 745 FLiRT (Greater Anglia)

  • I like these trains
  • The interior ambiance is really well done - the colour scheme and lighting come together to create a really pleasant and comfortable atomsphere.
    • The whisper quiet and exceptionally smooth ride helps with this too
  • There's plenty of luggage space (which is good, because these run the Stansted Express et al)
  • I adore the level boarding system, plus the funky Jacobs bogies are fun
  • Large, clear and crisp passenger information displays
  • The same supportive seating as the WMR 196s, except with armrests, seatback tables and a better pitch
  • Also has good looks outside
Greater Anglia Class 745-1 Stansted Express train at Liverpool Street