OLD diesel trains have been pulled out of retirement to ferry passengers along Southend Pier following continued technical problems with the new models.

Both of Southend’s two new electric trains have been taken out of service as specialists work to identify and fix issues.

On Tuesday, the new trains broke down with Southend Council’s forced to turn to one of the older blue diesel models to keep the pier’s rail services running – but at a reduced service.


Council bosses have remained tight-lipped on the specifics of the latest problem and have shied away from setting a date for when the trains may return to service.

“Our officers are working hard with the manufacturers to make sure all issues are identified and fixed, with more on-site tests planned over the next few weeks, so both trains can run safely and reliably in the future,” councillor Carole Mulroney, responsible for environment, culture and tourism, said.

The Sir William Heygate blue diesel train, dating back to 1986, has been drafted back into service to operate the line in the meantime, running a train every half-an-hour.

The newer electric trains, part of a £3.2million project to create an eco-friendly railway, first came into use in March and were unveiled to the public by Prince Charles.

But since then, they have been beset by problems, and were out of order from the end of April through to the middle of July.

Ms Mulroney added: “The significant investment in the new trains demonstrates the council’s commitment to the future of the pier and its ongoing cultural legacy in our city. The improvements will also help to support the growing number of visitors, with a record-breaking 260,000 people visiting the world’s longest pleasure pier this summer alone.

“Since August 10, the previous diesel train has been running to take visitors to the end of the pier and runs every half hour with timetables on the Southend Pier website.

“Train updates, café closures and more information about the pier is available on the website or the pier’s social media pages.”