British train operating company Southeastern has started preparations to introduce a new fleet of Class 707 trains later this year.
The operator is aiming to deploy the electric multiple units (EMUs) for preview services starting from autumn on the routes from Dartford, Sevenoaks and Hayes into London.
A full service is expected to commence from next year once a sufficient number of trains have transferred from South Western Railway (SWR).
The Class 707 trains will replace some of the older ‘Networker’ trains and will help in increasing capacity on the London routes.
The refurbished vehicles are equipped with air conditioning, passenger information screens, a loading display for every carriage, as well as plug sockets and Wi-Fi services to improve passenger experience. Each of the unit features 271 seats.
Southeastern managing director David Statham said: “Bringing in modern, reliable trains with more space is an important part of the work we are doing to encourage people back to rail travel.
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“Following a great effort by everyone across the railway, I’m very pleased to confirm that our new trains are getting set to carry passengers later this year.
“The Class 707 represents a big investment in our train fleet and I’m really looking forward to welcoming our customers aboard.”
Since January, Southeastern has received six Class 707 trains, which are now used for maintenance, driver training, and station compatibility tests.
The operator is scheduled to receive two additional five-car trains this month.
Owned by Angel Trains, the Class 707 fleet was originally procured for South West Trains (SWT).
However, Southeastern moved to procure the EMUs after SWT’s successor, South Western Railway, selected newer Class 701 trains for London area routes.
Southeastern is scheduled to receive a total of 30 Class 707 trains.