Stagecoach loses South West Trains to First/MTR after 21 years

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.

SWT ‘Desiro City’ EMUs Nos. 707001/002 performed the type’s first 25kV AC test runs on the evening of March 20. The pair are seen switching over from 750V DC to AC overhead power at Farringdon while working 5E20, the 22.20 Wimbledon Park CSD-Ferme Park Sidings. The Siemens-built units continued via the East Coast Main Line to Peterborough during the night. EIKI SEKINE

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.

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!

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