SWR launches ‘701’ Arterio EMU

On 24 August South Western Railway unveiled the brand name Arterio for its new suburban fleet of 90 Bombardier-built Class 701 EMUs. The first Arterio trains are due to enter service on the Reading line later this year before replacing Class 455, 456, 458 and 707 EMUs on all suburban services into London Waterloo.

Enter the Arterio: Bombardier-built EMU No 701004 was unveiled with the new branding in an event held by SWR at Wimbledon depot on 24 August.

South Western Railway is to brand its new Class 701 suburban EMUs as Arterios. The operator says the Bombardier-built fleet will carry passengers ‘along the arteries of our suburban network to its beating heart, London Waterloo’.

SWR has ordered 60x10-car and 30x5-car ‘701s’ from Bombardier, financed by Rock Rail. They will replace EMUs of Classes 455, 456, 458 and 707 on suburban services, with the first ‘701s’ due to be introduced on the Reading line by the end of the year. Although there has been some delay due to the Covid crisis, with Bombardier shutting down production at its Derby factory for three weeks at the onset of the pandemic, SWR is still planning for the whole fleet to be delivered to an accelerated schedule over 12 months. Bombardier has three production lines dedicated to the ‘701s’ at its Derby factory.

Training is now getting underway on the new fleet, and SWR Engineering Director Neil Drury told Modern Railways Bombardier is planning a rapid deployment of software drops to support the training of drivers, crew and maintenance staff. The focus will initially be on introducing 10-car units, with the majority of five-car sets delivered later, although a handful will arrive earlier for multiple working and coupling/uncoupling training.

SWR plans to replace its Class 458 fleet first, these mostly working services on the Reading line. These will be followed by the Class 455s and 456s, the oldest of the current EMUs, and lastly the Class 707s, which have only been in service for three years. The ‘707s’ are to move to Southeastern after they leave SWR and will be sub-leased back to SWR by Southeastern from next summer until their replacements are in place. Mr Drury said SWR had revised the order of replacement due to the performance and capacity of the ‘707s’ and because passengers prefer them.

New features introduced with the ‘701s’ will include an Assisted Braking and Door Opening (ABDO) function, which brings trains to a stop and opens the doors automatically, with the aim of speeding up station dwell times. Also new are bio-reactor toilets, the ‘701s’ being the first UK fleet to be so fitted; the bio-reactor tanks require emptying less frequently than traditional tanks. Of the fleets the ‘701s’ are replacing, only the ‘458s’ have toilets; each 10-car ‘701’ has two accessible toilets, and each five-car set has one.

To support the new suburban fleet, SWR is building a new stabling facility at Feltham, which is due for completion by the end of the year. Minor modifications at Wimbledon depot include additional tanking equipment, the installation of high-level walkways in the maintenance shed to provide roof access for air conditioning equipment, and bio-reactor toilet emptying facilities. Wimbledon will be the main base for the ‘701s’, with maintenance by SWR with technical support from Bombardier. As the depot is designed around five-car sets, the 10-car ‘701s’ will have an auto-coupler facility enabling them to be split in half for maintenance.