Today (Monday 27th March) Transport Minister Paul Maynard MP announced the Department’s intention to award the South Western rail franchise to First MTR South Western Trains Limited.
The decision represents the thirteenth franchise renewal in a little under four years, which the Department says is a clear indication of their determination to drive improvements as fast and as widely as they can. The Minister said that each award had delivered major enhancements for passengers and had been designed to ensure that the interests of passengers are placed at the very heart of industry decision making.
The Government’s aim is to introduce faster journeys with a fleet of new suburban trains offering a regular, metro-style service and First MTR South Western Trains Limited have experience in this from their successful management of Hong Kong’s busy metro. The Department for Transport say that passengers can look forward to more space and more regular journeys, ensuring that the railway can support growth.
Kit Malthouse MP, whose constituency includes stations on the line, welcomed the announcement: “With 90 new trains we’re going to see more space for passengers on the Reading, Windsor and London routes through Grateley, Andover, Whitchurch and Overton adding 22,000 extra seats into London Waterloo in the morning peak and 30,000 extra seats each out of Waterloo during the evening peak.”
“That’s roughly 30% more seats in and out of Waterloo and 10 minutes off the journey time to London from Salisbury and around 5 minutes from Basingstoke. Combined with plans to make charging points accessible from every seat and refurbished train interiors, I think this represents a really good deal for my constituents and shows the Government means business on expanding capacity.”