It's the end of the line for 'Abba-era' Southern Railway trains, here is what's coming next

Tap to watch a video report by ITV News Meridian's James Dunham

It was 1976, Ford launched the Fiesta, people were singing and swinging to ABBA’s newly-released hit Dancing Queen and it was the first and last time Southampton won an FA cup trophy. 

The year also marked the arrival of the Class 313s, a fleet of train which 47 years later is the oldest in UK passenger service, but that’s not for much longer.

Since 2010, the trains have been serving passengers along the South coast and used on the Southern Rail route between Portsmouth and Eastbourne.

Their introduction on the line was controversial, because of the fact the trains have no toilets. 

This is the type of train which will replace the Class 313 Credit: ITV

From 21st May they will no longer be in service and replaced by the fleet of trains (with toilets) that are currently used on the Brighton mainline.

Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director for Southern, said: “We’re making coastal train journeys better for our customers, and attracting new passengers to rail.

"I want to thank the local groups who were actively involved in helping us shape a timetable that improves connections and provides a better frequency of services by spacing trains out more regularly.

"Across the network, we’re making changes on several routes, so we’re advising all our customers to check for new train times, via our website or National Rail Enquiries, well in advance."

The trains have seen better days Credit: ITV Meridian

The changes come alongside a new post-covid timetable, being rolled out on May 21st, which promises extra capacity and is designed to meet the demand of new travel patterns.

Some trains will be shortened Monday and Friday to reflect working from home and the carriages will be moved elsewhere. 

Services between Brighton and Eastbourne will be doubled and the Hastings to Brighton service will run all day instead of in the morning and evening rush hours. 

Between Hastings and Ashford International, the same service level will run all week meaning an hourly service at Three Oaks and Winchelsea and on operation also means additional stops at Pevensey & Westham, Cooden Beach and Collington.

The change means that connections to Ashford International and Southeastern are more reliable.

Yolanda Laybourne, Chair of Bexhill Rail Action Group, said,

"Southern's planning team have sought not only to overcome the challenges by thinking differently and, in our view very innovatively, but have set our railway up for a return to growth by taking a fresh look at the timetable, adjusting it for passenger benefit, and, with the support of local stakeholders, user groups, councils and local businesses, to achieve a better overall output."