Thomas Pain


My thoughts on some of the trains used in the UK

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 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.
  • Very well refurbished, a lot brighter and airier than similar CrossCountry trains
  • Pretty quiet cabin
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
323214 Aston

Class 350 Desiro (London Northwestern Railway)

  • Decent trains
  • Generally pretty comfortable (provided you don't get a 350/2)
  • Refurbished units are typically very nice and are comfortable for the services they operate
  • Legroom šŸ‘
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
  • No end gangways but they often work in pairs
  • Looks good in the EMR colours

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
  • 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 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