Published at 15:54 on Wednesday 2nd February 2022
Tags: South Western Railway, Southeastern, Class 707, Fleet Changes, EMUs, Desiro City, Siemens, Franchise

Southeastern Class 707 No. 707009 arrives at New Cross working the 11:25 driver training run from Hayes on 11th August 2021. Some of this fleet will now remain with South Western Railway until August. Brian Creasey

South Western Railway has said that it is to continue to use some of its Class 707 ‘Desiro City’ trains until August, rather than transferring them to SouthEastern.

The aim is to improve capacity on suburban routes and as a result, 12 out of the 30 ‘707s’ that were due to move to Southeastern, will now remain with SWR until the end of the summer. The problem around capacity, prior to passenger numbers reducing as a result of Omicron, had been impacted by the altered introduction of the Alstom (formerly Bombardier) Class 701 Arterio EMUs. In a statement SWR said it is “waiting for manufacturer Alstom to supply a train that performs to specification and will deliver consistently better journeys for customers and colleagues. When they do, SWR will begin its extensive programme of testing, training and business mobilisation.”

Pre-empting the Arterio introduction, SWR refrained from spending significant sums, at a time of significantly reduced passenger numbers, on overhauling trains which were due to be retired and replaced, the impact of the delayed Class 701 introduction, is now giving challenges around fleet availability and capacity.

As well as securing the Class 707s for longer and working closely with Alstom to roll-out the Arterios, SWR says it has taken further measures to maximise fleet availability in readiness for customers returning to the railway once restrictions are lifted. These measures have included the recruitment of additional engineers to increase the capacity of maintenance and safety programmes, reconfiguring existing train formations to provide more capacity on suburban lines and using control teams to adapt the timetable to deliver available carriages to where they are most needed. This involves closely monitoring customer demand and changing the calling patterns on some services to relieve pressure at the busiest stations.

Commenting, SWR’s Managing Director Claire Mann said: “Prior to the outbreak of the most recent coronavirus variant, the delay to the Arterio roll-out had created a challenging situation on parts of our network and I’d like to apologise to our customers and thank them for their patience during this testing time.” Ms Mann added: “Retaining the Class 707s is a key part of our medium-term approach, and I’d like to thank Southeastern for working with us in such a constructive way to support the wider interests of all railway users.”

Southeastern commented that the short lease extension will not negatively affect its customers as the company is able to adjust its timetable as required to ensure there is enough capacity. The ‘707s’ were introduced to Southeastern commuter duties in September, and ahead of the August 2022 transfer of the remaining units 18 sets have already transferred to Southeastern, operating on Grove Park, Hayes and Dartford routes.

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