Photograph © Stuart Hicks
|In March 2017 South Western Railway, a co-operative venture
between First Group (70%) and MTR (30%), were awarded the South Western
Franchise, supplanting the incumbent Stagecoach South West Trains who had held
the franchise since the beginning of late 20th century privatised railways. This
involved a commitment to introduce 750 new carriages. In June 2017 South Western
Railway announced an order, financed by Rock Rail, reported to be worth
£895million, with Bombardier for sixty ten car and thirty five car
electric multiple units, with an option for two further ten car units, from
their Adventra range. These being to replace the entire South Western suburban
and outer suburban fleets. Whilst a single unified suburban fleet makes a lot of
sense this involves replacing trains with a significant working life left in
them. The Class 455s had undergone a major and
significant refurbishment between 2004 and 2008 and between 2016 and 2017 their
DC traction equipment had been replaced by modern AC motors and control gear.
After acquiring Class 456 units from Southern
in 2014, these units also underwent a similar significant refurbishment,
although they retain their original DC traction equipment. Arguably these two
classes have at least a further ten years in them. Class 458 units had undergone a major rebuild and
augmentation between 2012 and 2016 and have about another twenty years working
life left. However the greatest shock is the replacement of Siemens Class 707
high capacity inner suburban units which only entered service three days before
(and then only nominally) South Western Railway took over the franchise on 20th
As is unfortunately common with new rolling stock, construction and introduction into service is prone to delays. Class 701s (the class number being confirmed in September 2017) were originally due to enter service in December 2019. The entire Classes 7nn Adventra range encountered delays due to difficulty developing, having tested and approved their software. (The first type from the Adventra range - Crossrail class 345 - uses earlier generation software.) The first unit was not delivered until June 2020 and at the time of writing (early February 2021) the most recent prediction is to enter service on Waterloo-Reading workings during March 2021. Though this may be subject to further delay resulting from the Covid-19 Pandemic with commissioning and driver training taking longer.
These trains are of aluminium construction, driving cars being 20.8m long and intermediate cars 19.90m long, both 2.78m wide. They are fitted with wide sliding plug doors and have wide gangways within the unit, though there are no inter-unit gangways. Dellner 12 couplers are used at unit ends and the class can only work in multiple with itself. Flexx B5000 inside frame bogies are used and motor bogies are fitted with two Bombardier asynchronous 250kW motors driven by IGBT inverter controls. Both disc and regenerative/rheostatic braking are employed. These units have maximum speed of 100mph and whilst the Adventra range is dual voltage/pickup capable these units will only be fitted for 750v DC. Though a small number of pre-service units have been fitted and tested on AC, not on the mainline. For South Western Railway the interior accommodation is 2+2 unidirectional and facing standard class throughout - a downgrade for Reading services. These units are air-conditioned, have wi-fi and at-seat USB charging facilities. Capacity is believed to be 556 seats/746 standing for ten car units and 274 seats/361 standing for five car units. It is believed functionally a ten car unit is two five car half-units. Only the trailer vehicles have a lavatory - wheelchair accessible - and two wheelchair spaces.
Class 701/0 Ten car units are formed:
DMS [2-Bo] - MS [Bo-2] - TS [2-2] - MS [Bo-2] - MS [2-Bo] - MS [2-Bo] - MS [Bo-2] - TS [2-2] - MS [2-Bo] - DMS [Bo-2]and Class 701/5 five car units are formed:
DMS [2-Bo] - MS [Bo-2] - TS [2-2] - MS [2-Bo] - DMS [Bo-2]
The units will be maintained at Wimbledon Traincare Depot and with additional storage at a new depot at Feltham on the site of the former marshalling yard. The latter is due to open in 2021 and will accommodate up to ten ten-car trains.
It was reported that the first four trains built were for type testing with the fifth being regarded as the first production build for delivery. One unit, believed to be Nº701501, was tested at the Velim test centre in the Czech Republic in January 2020. In May 2020 Nº701502 was reported as being tested with a pantograph up on the short test track in Bombardier's works at Derby. By 2nd July both Nº701501 and Nº701502 had been moved to the Old Dalby testing centre, but on 21st August Nº701501 was observed on the test track at Derby. The first delivery - to Eastleigh - was Nº701002 on 10th June 2020. This is one of the four testing units and during delivery it was observed only to have seats installed in its two rear vehicles. Between 18th and 20th June 2020 it was moved from Eastleigh for testing at Weymouth and in between testing it was remarkably stored away from the conductor rail on the Swanage Railway. This unit was moved to store at Worksop on 10th November 2020. The first production build unit Nº701004 was delivered to Eastleigh on 30th June 2020. Subsequent deliveries have been as listed later, but in the interim testing and mileage accumulation has taken place. Regular running contracted to GBRf has been on an Eastleigh - Staines Up Loop circuit (largely to keep it away from heavy commuter routes) but other running from Eastleigh has taken in destinations such as Waterloo, Guildford, Dorking, Portsmouth & Southsea, Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole, Winchester and Reading. Notably hardly any of the inner suburban network which will be these units' major domain!
On 24th August 2020 there was a press and publicity launch of these trains, using Nº701004, at Wimbledon Traincare Depot. During which it was said, and reported by The Railway Gazette, these units would enter service by "autumn 2020" on Waterloo-Reading services with all in service by the end of 2021. As previously written, these targets have already been revised. At the launch it was also declared these trains will be called "Arterio"s. To quote from South Western Railway "Through Waterloo, the beating heart of our network, Arterio trains will carry our customers along the arteries of our suburban network to the capital - to work, to school, to restaurants, shops, bars and theatres - and home again." It does not pay to over-think this branding. Will Up trains need to be re-named Veinios?
Other notable happenings, other than deliveries, so far have been:
On 18th July 2020 South Western Railway extended its option for a further order from two to five ten car units, though the deadline for calling on the option is believed since to have passed with no order being placed.
Unit deliveries to the end of January 2021 - to Eastleigh unless otherwise detailed:
This page was created 7 February 2021