Network SouthEast

 

Network SouthEast had several headquarter offices to manage the sector's operations: the first worthy of note was located in Croydon. The Business Sector was accountable for the whole third rail network of British Rail, thus the Croydon establishment managed routes which were so treated. Interestingly, as a result of this decision, Network SouthEast administered the Mersey Rail third rail network from Croydon. The sector also had offices at Euston for the management of the routes to Northampton, Bletchley and Bedford, whilst further offices were established down Kings Cross station's east side.

 

Naturally, the greatest income generated by the sector was that of ticket sales to London commuters, which totalled 377 million of the total 650 million received in the first year under the Network SouthEast branding. Furthermore, the total ticket sales revenue covered approximately 76% of the 855.26 million operating costs of the sector in the same year, the loss being covered by a grant from Passenger Transport Executives. In its early years, Network SouthEast was generating 8000 million passenger miles on its services per annum, receiving an average amount of 0.80 per passenger mile.

 

Whilst deviating from the sector's facts published over the years, it would be necessary in this section to outline some of the notable changes the sector brought. A benefit to passengers was the electrification of the section of line between Bournemouth and Weymouth, allowing through electric services from Waterloo, seeing an end to the Class 33 and 4 Rep push-and-pull arrangement (an arrangement which did have its charm, however). Developments in technology allowed third rail installation at a cost which was lower than the comparative figure of 1967, thus a brand new intercity-style breed of five-car EMU was developed. Strictly speaking, this happened in the last days of the London & SouthEast sector, the project initiating in January 1986, but virtually all its progress was made under the ''Network SouthEast'' banner. The first Mk 3-profile Class 442 ''Wessex Electric'' unit went into service on 16th May 1988, providing passengers (or ''customers'') with the style and comfort usually afforded by the InterCity Business Sector. Next in the pipeline was the replacement of stock on the sector's commuter routes, those in Kent envisaged to be a particular beneficiary of the project. Called the ''Networker Project'', the aim was to replace all ''heritage'' diesel multiple units, suburban electric slam-door stock and locomotive-hauled stock (the latter between Paddington and Oxford), with new automatic sliding-door replacements in form of either EMU or DMU.

 

Over half of Network SouthEast's staff were employed by the Southern Region, the remainder being provided by the Western, Eastern and Midland Regions. In 1987, 54% of Network SouthEast's rolling stock was over 21 years of age and concurrent with this, only 50% of a train driver's time was actually spent driving. With reference to the latter, the figure also included the driving time of standby train drivers, these of which were justified as necessary by the sector to cover for driver absence due to sickness or annual leave. To further reduce train crew costs, the role of guards on services was reviewed. Guards were required on services for revenue protection, passenger safety and to ensure all train doors were closed, but the latter factor in particular was to be eliminated on some services by the introduction of new automatic sliding-door multiple units. Although services with new automatic door stock could still accommodate a guard, such crew would not become an imperative on some workings, particularly short-haul commuter routes, where all train-related functions (including announcements) were made by the driver (latterly demonstrated on the Kent commuter network in particular). Known at the time as ''driver-only operation'', the absence of train crew other than the driver proved to be a success, as costs were reduced.

 


 

Network SouthEast

A once common scene: a Network SouthEast Class 50 with appropriate liveried stock is seen hurtling

through the now derelict Seaton Junction station in April 1989. Thankfully, Seaton Junction's station

building survives to this day, but is in commercial use. As can be seen from this picture, the main ''up''

platform still survives, as does the 'down' island platform, although the latter is now seriously overgrown.

When the Class 47s and 50s were to be retired from the Waterloo to Exeter route, the option of installing

a third rail along the line was considered, in addition to creating a diesel version of the Class 442 ''Wessex

Electrics''. The end solution was the Class 159 DMU, these being the product of an over-order by the

Regional Railways sector. Mike Glasspool

 


 

Network SouthEast

The two platforms and four through lines of Oxford are seen in this view from 22nd March

1991. A locomotive-hauled service of BR Mk 1 carriages is seen leaving in the background,

whilst a Class 47 is seen stabled alongside the leaving train. Mike Glasspool

 


 

Network SouthEast

Class 73 Electro-Diesels Nos. 73004 and 73005 are seen rounding the curve at Clapham Junction,

 working a Network SouthEast excursion to Winchfield on 25th September 1988. Clapham Junction

''A'' signal box can just be seen behind the train. This closed on 25th May 1990 when the new Wimbledon

Panel took over its functions. David Glasspool Collection

 


 

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