SEVEN Class 319 EMUs owned by Rolling Stock Company Porterbrook Leasing underwent repainting and refurbishment for the Connex Express service due to be launched on the London - Brighton route on January 27. Connex South Central, the CGEA subsidiary which won Great Britain’s Network SouthCentral passenger franchise in April, chose its premier Brighton route as the next ’centre of excellence’ to receive attention after its south London suburban services (RG11.96 p6).

Connex Express combines an improved passenger environment with a change in staffing that sees crews mix revenue protection and customer care duties with refreshment vending.

Designed by British Rail for inner and outer suburban duties, the four-car Class 319s used by Connex have 3+2 standard class seating, but this is being replaced on the Connex Express sets by a 2+2 layout with a mix of airline-style rows and facing pairs over tables. A first class area with seats from MTB has a 2+1 arrangement; new standard class seats are from Chapman.

The refurbishment is being undertaken by a dedicated project team at Railcare’s Wolverton works. New carpets are being fitted in both classes, plus new lighting in first. Vestibule areas, panelling and luggage racks are all receiving fresh decor. Additional toilets, accessible to the mobility-impaired, are being installed.

In an attempt to retain a focal point for long-distance commuters, each set will have a lounge area in the power car. This is located under the pantograph where there is a recessed roof with a low ceiling. Wall-mounted circular seats have been installed around a decorative feature disguising the box carrying high-tension cables from the roof to underfloor traction equipment. o

CAPTION: Seating arranged 2+2 in standard class from Chapman replaces a 3+2 layout