Analysis: Discussions continue but Class 707s face uncertain future

5
2996
Photo: Rail Engineer.

FirstGroup and MTR have today confirmed an order with Bombardier for 90 new Aventra EMUs. Their arrival in the middle of 2019 will bring an end to the Class 707’s short spell on the South Western main line.

The First/MTR joint venture announced its intention to replace the Class 707s earlier this year – the first train hasn’t yet entered service.

South West Trains, under Stagecoach’s stewardship, plans to complete the roll-out of the new third-rail EMUs by the end of the year. Within just a couple of years, they will be replaced by the Aventra units.

“The Class 707s are good trains that we will make use of,” said a spokesperson for FirstGroup, during an exchange of e-mails about the logistics of introducing the new fleet. FirstGroup and MTR want a homogenous fleet and clearly see a commercial benefit in procuring a completely new set of trains rather than adding more 707s.

First and MTR say their approach represents a good deal for passengers and the government, but, with more than £200 million invested in the 30 five-car Siemens trains, finding a new owner is essential. The sight of nearly new trains sat in sidings indefinitely is something the Department for Transport (DfT) will want to avoid.

The same spokesperson said First did expect the Class 707s would be cascaded to other parts of the network and was confident that they would find a future elsewhere. Angel Trains, which financed the 707 fleet, said it too was continuing to explore opportunities to secure the long-term future of the trains.

The big issue for the 707s is that they have been designed for the South West’s 750 V DC electrification system – although Siemens has said the they can be adapted to 25 kV AC.

For some, however, this could actually represent an opportunity. Open-access operator Alliance Rail Holdings is awaiting a decision from the ORR on a track access application to run a new passenger service between London Waterloo and Southampton from 2018.

Alliance has said it plans to use Class 442s, but it’s an interesting thought. What if the 707s ended up competing head to head with the very trains that replaced them?

Written by Marc Johnson

5 COMMENTS

  1. Perhaps Northern Rail could get some converted to AC and replace the 319s on the Liverpool/Blackpool to Manchester airport. The extra 5th carriage would come in handy on the trains through Bolton at rush hour.

  2. Class 458s cascaded to Southern to replace the 377s on the London – East Grinstead & Horsham via Dorking services & the 707s to the Southern inner suburban services along side the 377/6s 5 car units to replace the aging Class 455s & to release the 377s to the Coastway services to replace the aging 313s. The class 707s would be ideal for the Southern inner suburban services & the 458s would be ideal for the Southern outer suburban services to East Grinstead & Horsham via Dorking or the 707s would be ideal for Southeastern inner suburban services to replace some of the 465s to Southern & the 458s would be ideal for Southeastern outer suburban services to Gillingham, Tunbridge Wells & Ashford International or to Canterbury West via Maidstone East & also replace the 377/5s to Southern

  3. Class 458s cascaded to Southern to replace the 377s on the East Grinstead & Horsham via Dorking services & the 707s to the Southern inner suburban services along side the 377/6s 5 car units to replace the aging Class 455s & to release the 377s to the Coastway services to replace the aging 313s. The class 707s would be ideal for the Southern inner suburban services & the 458s would be ideal for the Southern outer suburban services to East Grinstead & Horsham via Dorking or the 707s would be ideal for Southeastern inner suburban services to replace some of the 465s to Southern & the 458s would be ideal for Southeastern outer suburban services to Gillingham, Tunbridge Wells & Ashford International or to Canterbury West via Maidstone East & also replace the 377/5s to Southern

  4. Would GTR Southern have the Class 707’s to replace the Class 455’s on metro & suburban routes in South London and North Surrey.

    Or could c2c have the Class 707’s to be used on semi-fast Fenchurch St-Southend Central, Shoeburyness, Leigh-on-Sea, Basildon and Laindon services and to move some of the Class 357’s for Fenchurch St-Grays via Rainham and Upminster-Grays services. As c2c are hiring the Class 387’s until 2019.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here