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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.