By Ben Jones
FirstGroup and Hong Kong’s MTR have been awarded the lucrative South West Trains franchise, ending Stagecoach’s 21-year association with one of the country’s busiest operations.
Starting on August 20, 2017 for seven years, First MTR South West Trains will oversee a £1.2billion investment – £80m of which will come from the franchisee – providing 22,000 extra seats into London Waterloo during the weekday morning peak, and 30,000 in the evening peak.
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Waterloo is the UK’s busiest station and will gain five extra platforms from December 2018. The former Eurostar platforms are currently being rebuilt as part of an £800m package of enhancements.
The joint venture, which brings together UK-based First (70%) and the operator of Hong Kong’s mass transit system (30%) is committed to introducing 90 new ‘metro’ trains (750 vehicles) by December 2020. It has also promised 18 refurbished five-car Class 442 EMUs for the Portsmouth route by December 2018.
The supplier of First/MTR’s new trains has not yet been decided, but the trains will feature air-conditioning, toilets, wide doors and gangways. They are intended for the Windsor, Reading and London inner-suburban routes, putting the future of the yet-to-be-introduced Siemens Class 707 EMU fleets in doubt.
Read more in the April 2017 issue of The RM – on sale now!Enjoy more of The Railway Magazine reading every month. Click here to subscribe.