The Government has announced that the seven year rail franchise to operate the South Western rail franchise has been won by First MTR South Western Trains Limited. MTR, one of the partners behind the franchise, currently operate the Hong Kong metro system.
Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, said:
“Following on from our announcement on the start of the South Eastern Franchise consultation, this deal is more great news for rail passengers.
First MTR South Western Trains Limited will deliver the improvements that people tell us they want right across the South Western franchise area, from Bristol and Exeter, to Southampton and Portsmouth, to Reading, Windsor and London.
We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century and this franchise will deliver real changes for passengers, who can look forward to modern trains, faster journeys and a more reliable service.
The new franchise holder is investing £1.2 billion into the network to improve services. The Government said that the following improvements would be implemented by the new franchise:
- 22,000 extra seats into London Waterloo each morning peak and 30,000 extra seats out of Waterloo each evening peak
- a fleet of 90 new trains, providing more space for passengers on Reading, Windsor and London routes
- refurbished existing trains with charging sockets, new seat covers and refurbished toilets
- more frequent and additional services across the franchise
- faster journeys across the network; journeys to London will be:
- 8 minutes faster from Southampton
- 5 minutes faster from Portsmouth
- 10 minutes faster from Reading
- 12 minutes faster from Hounslow
- 11 minutes faster from Salisbury
- earlier first and later last trains, including between London and:
- more Sunday services across the network, with many routes having the equivalent of a Saturday service after 1.00pm