South Western Railway has announced that it has extended a lease on Class 707 trains until August 2022 to help with capacity on suburban routes.
12 Class 707s out of 30 SWR Class 707s were due to move over to Southeastern, but following an agreement, the lease that SWR holds has been extended until August 2022.
The other 18 Class 707s have already transferred to Southeastern, and have been operating since September 2021 on the Grove Park, Hayes and Dartford routes.
The move is set to relieve pressure on SWR’s capacity, which, before the reduction in passenger numbers due to Omicron, had been impacted by the altered Arterio introduction.
The train operator says that it is waiting for Alstom to supply a train that performs to specification. When that arrives, SWR says it will begin a programme of testing and training.
SWR says it is not spending significant sums on overhauling trains that were due to be retired and replaced.
Commenting, SWR’s Managing Director Claire Mann said: “Prior to the outbreak of the most recent coronavirus variant, the delay to the Arterio roll-out had created a challenging situation on parts of our network and I’d like to apologise to our customers and thank them for their patience during this testing time.
“I want to assure our customers that we have comprehensive short, medium and long-term plans in place to really get to grips with this challenge and protect customer journeys once people again return to the railway.
“Retaining the Class 707s is a key part of our medium-term approach, and I’d like to thank Southeastern for working with us in such a constructive way to support the wider interests of all railway users.
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.”