Trains into London Waterloo set for extra seats as FirstGroup and MTR order £895m new trains for South Western franchise

Rebecca Smith
The trains will provide a 46 per cent rise in peak capacity on routes into Waterloo
The trains will provide a 46 per cent rise in peak capacity on routes into Waterloo (Source: FirstGroup)

A bumper £895m investment in 90 new trains for the South Western rail franchise will boost the number of seats for suburban rail services into London Waterloo.

The fleet of Aventra trains, which have been ordered by FirstGroup and MTR, will be manufactured by Bombardier in Derby. They will provide a 46 per cent increase in peak capacity on the suburban routes into Waterloo.

The new trains should improve journeys for passengers with the introduction of free Wi-Fi, charging points at seats, air conditioning and wide gangways and doors to help make it easier to get on and off the train. The trains will be capable of travelling at 100mph and should help contribute to reduced journey times.

Read more: FirstGroup wins South West rail contract with help from Hong Kong firm

They will start to come into service from mid-2019 and all will be in place by December 2020.

FirstGroup boss Steve Montgomery said that having listened to passengers and stakeholders, a key request was additional seats. The 90 new trains will add 750 carriages, in five and 10 car formations.

His company and MTR will take over the South Western rail franchise from 20 August. When they won the franchise, 22,000 extra seats into London Waterloo for each morning peak and 30,000 out in the evening were promised, along with a fleet of 90 new trains.

Transport minister Paul Maynard said: “This multi-million pound investment in a new fleet of British-built trains is excellent news for South Western passengers and the British economy. This investment reflects our commitment, and that of train operators, to put passengers at the heart of everything we do, and will improve journeys and target congestion.”

Funding for the trains was led by sponsor Rock Rail and partners SL Capital and GLIL Infrastructure LLP, providing the equity investment.

Richard Hunter, UK managing director of Bombardier transportation, said:

We are thrilled to have won this important contract. It demonstrates further confidence placed in this market leading rolling stock, designed and built in Britain.

This order is a fantastic endorsement of our skilled workforce and the quality of the products we design, engineer and manufacture here in the UK.

Read more: Two train operators shortlisted to battle for new franchise

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