South Western Railway’s new Arterio trains four years late and fail to enter service in 2023

Image courtesy South Western Railway

A £1 billion fleet of new trains for South Western Railway has failed to make it into service by the end of 2023 and is now running four years late.

The fleet of Class 701s branded as Arterio has seen numerous problems over the past few years including reported issues with the driver’s cab and software issues.

They’re sister trains to those on the Elizabeth line which have also seen numerous issues with software – though at least they’re running.

Network showing routes Arterios are supposed to operate

The same class is also running on the London Overground as the Class 710s as well as Class 720s on Greater Anglia and c2c.

Bombardier were awarded the contract for the Arterio using its Aventra platform, with the company since bought by Alstom.

Long delays

SWR have been promising introduction for some time – see an almost three and a half year old press release here – while expected introductions into service have been and gone.

Back in 2020 they stated: “The first Arterio train is expected to be introduced later this year on the Reading line”.

Sister trains running on Greater Anglia seen here at Stratford

Fast forward three years and the latest miss was for stock to be in service by the end of 2023.

While delays to new stock is nothing new and in fact almost the norm, delays of four years and counting are almost unheard of. Something has gone seriously wrong.

SWR passengers have bore the brunt as the company – under pressure from government for cuts – sent dozens of trains for scrap without the replacements being ready.

City Beam trains are former SWR stock due for replacement

In addition these new trains were set to replace Class 707s, and without an expected home they’ve been sent to Southeastern and branded as City Beams. Yet the 30-strong fleet have not completely switched with not all yet in service with SE due to shortages on SWR, and thus two remain.

The hope now is for Arterios to complete their first passenger journey soon – but that isn’t the end of the saga.

Training on the new fleet for drivers and on-board staff needs to be completed as after four years delay that’s still not completed.

The order was placed in March 2017 meaning it could be eight years before even a fraction of services are running on the network using Arterio stock.




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I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    5 thoughts on “South Western Railway’s new Arterio trains four years late and fail to enter service in 2023

    • Many of us in southwest London would like our 707s back (and they look much better in red)! No one believes in the unicorn 701s. Their sole purpose is to shuffle around from siding to siding at the dead of night. If they’re delayed much longer they’ll be ready for the scrapyard. Probably just as well, because each new train design is more unreliable, less comfortable and more cramped than the last. There’s much to be said for a return to the design ethos of the 1950s and 60s – seats that align with windows, decent, spacious interiors, use of colour (why does everything on the modern railway have to be grey?), comfortable sprung seats and, above all, solid reliability. But that was in the days when the railways were run by professionals rather than get-rich-quick fatcats and corporate profit-gougers.

    • From my experience they keep withdrawing stock and it has become unbearable- Saturday rush hour I had to shove myself into a packed 4 car 458

      People are losing trust for SWR and this will hurt them in the long term. The virtual radio silence just compounds this

    • 707’s are far better than 701’s, the 707 can have toilets retro fitted, they’re reliable and from a driver perspective are comfortable. The 701 is cramped and feels flimsy in comparison, one recently blew up in a siding. No sensible driver will gleefully accept the 701 and aslef knows this too. SWR only want the 701 as they can gradually do away with Guards, purely a commercial decision.

    • Anything’s better than the 455s they still have knocking around, that lack many of the facilities expected of newer trains.

    • If Greater Anglia, c2c, and London Overground can operate these trains successfully, what’s different about either SWR’s stock, or their drivers which makes them inoperable? It’s a total disgrace how tax payers funds are being needlessly squandered.


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