South Western Railway are to hold onto 12 Class 707 trains for longer than intended due to problems with their new stock.
So far 18 out of 30 Class 707s have transferred to Southeastern, with the rest now set to stay with SWR until September 2022.
SWR ordered 71 new trains (Class 701s named Arterios) but have encountered numerous problems, and none are yet in service. SWR are clearly not happy with manufacturer Bombardier, who have now been taken over by Alstom.
With 3-year-old Class 707s having no home and political embarrassment of nearly new trains sitting empty in sidings, they were found a home at Southeastern.
It’s not a perfect fit, given they max out at 10-cars with much work conducted to make SE Metro a 12-car railway. Not a problem in the near future of course with reduced passenger numbers, but they will have potentially another 40 years in service.
It’s also another micro-fleet, with Metro routes now having three separate fleets in Class 465s and Class 466s (30 years old), 30 Class 376s (16 years old) and eventually 30 Class 707s. That ensures maintenance is not as efficient as a single fleet – which was another reason SWR went for a mass order.
The lack of toilets also caused controversy at SWR, but SE passengers are used to a lack of toilets on Class 376s. Networkers do of course have toilets.
With 18 Class 707s now with Southeastern, some Networkers have gone into storage with most in warm storage at Worksop.
In recent weeks one has moved south to a site in Ely which could see the train being scrapped soon.
Southeastern Passenger Services Director David Wornham said:
“This short lease extension won’t negatively affect our customers as we will be able to adjust our timetable as required to make sure we have enough capacity. We agreed to a small change in the transfer schedule as we understand the challenges SWR is facing and we want to help out. I look forward to introducing the remaining trains onto our busier metro routes in the summer when I hope passenger’ numbers will be closer to pre-pandemic levels.”
On the subject of adjusted timetables, it really is poor now on Southeastern Metro. A near 30 minute wait for a train this week near the evening peak at Greenwich is dismal service even with reduced passenger numbers. The train wasn’t exactly empty. Other forms of transport have cut back as may be expected, but to cut from as many as eight trains per hour (including Thameslink) to just two per hour is poor even in peak time does nothing to encourage people to use trains.