Finally the Reading service will be only served by 458![url=http://www.therailwaycentre.com/]Railway Centre[/url] said:Class 458s to remain with SWT
It has now been confirmed that the entire fleet of 30 Porterbrook Leasing-owned Class 458 units will return to front line traffic with South West Trains and not be taken off-lease and stored.
Earlier this year it was announced that the units would be taken out of traffic in early 2007, a date brought forward due to problems with the size of on-train displays. Recently all but a handful have been stood down and warm stored at Wimbledon, Clapham Junction and Bournemouth. Now the sets are to receive modifications to internal displays to bring the letter size in keeping with legal needs and return to full service.
The extra 30 sets for SWT will be very important with the company meeting the terms of its new South Western franchise, which calls for extra and longer trains.
The two Class 458s presently on sub-lease to Gatwick Express will also return to SWT.
A question yet to be answered is how one condition placed on the new South Western franchise by the DfT for 10 car trains to operate between Waterloo and Windsor will be met. As SWTs main suburban fleet are formed of four car sets, where are the two extra vehicles to come from. Class 442 or 444 5-car main line sets could be used, but this would be a total waste of resources and actually provide less seats than an eight car suburban unit. The answer has to be either split up some sets to release spare trailer vehicles, build extra intermediate cars or obtain the soon to be off-lease '508s' from SouthEastern, strip out the TS and use these as two car sets which would be able to operate with Class 455s.
We will wait and see.