South Western Railway reveal expected first route for three year late £1bn Arterio trains

Tap to watch a video report by ITV News Meridian's James Dunham

South Western Railway says it is a 'top priority' to introduce a £1bn brand new set of trains which are now more than three years late.

The Arterio fleet was destined for parts of London, Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire back in 2019.

ITV News has now been told the Windsor & Eton Riverside to Waterloo route will be the first to receive the trains.

However, there is still no firm concrete date for this in the diary for this although we are told the trains will come into use as soon as possible this year.

An Arterio train on a test run through Basingstoke Credit: ITV Meridian

Bringing in the 90 new trains and 750 carriages, could take up to 18 months meaning it could be towards the end of 2024 or early 2025 before every train is in operation.

Why has it taken so long? First, there was a dispute between rail bosses and unions over whether the trains would operate without a guard and only a driver, then the Covid-19 pandemic came along and now technical issues with software are being blamed.

With some of its fleet retired or being used by Southeastern trains in London, Kent and East Sussex, the unforeseen Arterio delays come at an unfortunate time as there are fewer carriages leading to reports of some services being overcrowded on the South Western Railway network.

That's led to overcrowding on some trains with recent strikes and a major landslip at Hook in Hampshire disrupting services.

Overcrowding on a South Western Railway service Credit: Claire Pendleton

South Western Railway's Chief Operating Officer Stuart Meek said,

"We're working hard on getting this system and the testing correct. What we just need to make sure of is that they're safe for the driver training and also reliable enough to go into service.

"We're looking forward to more carriages coming on to the tracks. When I speak to passengers, of course, they're incredibly frustrated when we don't have enough carriages.

"Now, that can be across at peak times, but also when the network has been disrupted, we've had quite a bit of disruption recently but we're really looking forward to getting this extra capacity on the tracks.

"There's going to be a phased rollout plan to the rest of the routes and when the trains do launch on the Windsor line this will hopefully alleviate some of the pressure on the network."

Up to 29 of the new trains have been delivered to South Western Railway from the manufacturer.

Some are being stored on tracks in Southampton at the Marchwood Military Bay as testing continues on the fleet to try and iron out the technical issues preventing them being finally brought into passenger service.