THE BOROUGH’S commuters are being promised extra seats on state-of-the-art trains from two years time after the new South Western franchise operators announced an order for 750 new carriages.
In August, FirstGroup and MTR will take over the franchise which serves the London Waterloo line that passes through Earley, Winnersh and Wokingham. The 90 new trains formed part of their bid and are capable of reaching speeds of up 100mph.
The new carriages will include free wifi, phone charging points, real-time information screens, air-conditioning and wide gangways and doors which FirstGroup says will improve getting on and off the trains.
Ninety of the the £895m Aventra trains have been ordered and comprises 750 new carriages which will run in five and 10-car formations. The first carriages will arrive from 2019 and the installation will be completed by 2020. FirstGroup and MTR said that the new trains will see a 46% increase in peak capacity on the suburban routes into Waterloo.
The trains will also be British built: Bombardier Transportation in Derby will be responsible.
Funding has been led by sponsor Rock Rail and partners SL Capital (part of Standard Life Investments) and GLIL Infrastructure LLP, who all provided the equity investment. The senior debt is provided by a consortium of UK, European and North American institutional investors. The trains will be leased to the new South Western rail franchise.
Transport Minister Paul Maynard said: “We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century and this franchise will provide more frequent trains, faster journeys and a more reliable service that passengers across the South Western network expect.
“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.”
Steve Montgomery, Managing Director, First Rail said: “We have exciting plans for the South Western rail franchise and these new trains are an important step on the way to delivering an improved journey experience for our passengers. We know from listening to passengers and stakeholders that alongside improved performance, what they want to see is additional seats and we will deliver this via these state-of-the-art trains.”
Jeremy Long, CEO, European Business at MTR, said: “We look forward to working together with FirstGroup to introduce this new fleet of trains.”
Richard Hunter, UK Managing Director, 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. It will ensure a stable, long-term workload for our staff in Derby. AVENTRA offers enhanced performance and increased passenger capacity, which will play an important part in helping FirstGroup and MTR satisfy continued levels of passenger growth on the South Western network.”
Mark Swindell, Chief Executive Officer of Rock Rail said: “Rock Rail are delighted to be funding and leasing these trains which will bring a step change to the travelling experience for so many commuters.
“Our funders are leading pension and insurance institutions from both the UK and overseas who are directly investing in the UK’s long term economic infrastructure, on a basis that delivers significant cost savings and value for money enhancement for UK operators.
“We look forward to working closely with FirstGroup and MTR and all our partners to bring these trains into service.”