HomeFranchise NewsUK transport secretary 'absolutely certain' Class 707s have a future

UK transport secretary ‘absolutely certain’ Class 707s have a future

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The UK’s Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, says he is ‘absolutely certain’ that the South West route’s Class 707 Desiro City trains will be taken on by another operator.

The new operator of the South West franchise – a FirstGroup/MTR joint venture – has already confirmed it will be replacing the trains in 2019 – even though they are only just going into passenger service now.

Grayling was speaking at the launch of the new South Western Railway (SWR) brand at Waterloo station on 4 September.

SWR has said it will invest £1.2 billion in the new franchise and the event was an opportunity to show off the first Class 444 train to sport the new livery.

During the launch, a framed image of one of the route’s new Aventra EMUs in SWR livery was presented by Bombardier. The 90-train Aventra fleet will replace the Class 707 trains which were ordered by the route’s previous operator, Stagecoach.

Image: Bombardier Aventra

As of yet, Angel Trains, which owns the 707s, has not found a new owner for the fleet.

‘The franchisees have no obligation to use the existing trains,’ said Chris Grayling. ‘This is a different strategy it’s about having a more harmonised fleet of trains that improves efficiency, improves ways of working.

‘It does mean that Angel Trains has a fleet of Siemens trains that won’t have a home after 2020, but we’re not in a position today where we have got a surplus of trains on our network, and I’m absolutely certain they will find a home and help deliver longer trains and more capacity in other places.’

SWR’s new managing director, Andy Mellors, added, ‘What we really want on our suburban network is a homogenous fleet of trains that really drives the maximum possible performance and capacity on the existing network that we’ve got.’

Read the full article in the September issue of RailStaff magazine