What could well be the most delayed introduction into service of a new train in the UK’s history has ended today as the first South Western Railway Arterio entered service.
The new class of train were due to enter service more than four years ago, with the latest deadline of 2023 being missed but today the Class 701s took their first paying customers from Waterloo to Windsor and Eton.
These trains are part of the Aventra class that also includes the Elizabeth line stock as well as sister trains on the London Overground, c2c and Greater Anglia.
As with other new trains expect air con, walk-through carriages, plug sockets and in this case 2×2 seating which differs from their Greater Anglia siblings and of course those used by TfL.
The big question now is how quickly the fleet can be rolled out with dozens being stored nationwide after delays due to software, problems with driver cabs and issues over working practices.
It appears some of that is still to be worked out in regards to staff roles and training so it won’t be quick. SWR customers will have to put up with short trains for some time yet.
When more do eventually roll out the remaining two out of thirty Class 707 City Beams are due to transfer to Southeastern for Metro routes sending two more Networkers into storage and probable scrap.
SWR’s remaining Class 455 trains will also all be heading to the scrapyard. The trains date back to the 1980s. In advance of the new stock Class 456’s have already been scrapped leaving a shortfall of trains.
In total 750 carriages are being constructed forming 90 trains for the SWR network.