1. ITV Report

New franchise owners promise extra seats and new trains

Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA

The new owners of the South West Trains franchise have promised extra seats, new trains and faster journey times for passengers.

It comes after the announcement that First Group and MTR will be the new owners of the rail franchise from August this year.

New trains

There will be 90 new trains on the network with 22,000 extra seats into London Waterloo each morning and 30,000 out of the station each evening during peak times.

The new trains will benefit passengers using the Reading, Windsor and London routes.

Existing trains will be refurbished, boasting new seat covers, improved toilet facilities and charging sockets in the carriages.

Credit: PA

Station upgrades

Southampton Central station will be upgraded with a new entrance, improved shops and more facilities.

Station improvements will also be made across the network with additional seating, improved step-free access and 60 electric vehicle charging points.

There will also be at least 1,500 new car parking spaces at stations.


A new compensation scheme will be rolled out covering delays of 15 minutes or more.

Smart card season ticket holders will receive automatic claims.

Thousands of new jobs

More than 100 apprenticeships will be offered every year by First Group and MTR.

apprenticeships in the road and rail sector by 2020 - Government pledge

Free Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi will be provided at all stations and on-board mainland trains.

Credit: PA

Increased Sunday services

There will be increased train services on a Sunday with many routes having the equivalent of a Saturday service after 1pm.

More discounts

A new smart card will be created, offering the cheapest single or day return fare for those who walk into the station to buy their ticket.

There will be new flexible season tickets offering passenger discount for those travelling fewer than five days a week.

In addition, a new Student Connect smart ticket for 16 to 18 year olds which offers a third off weekly or longer tickets and term-time discounts for under 16s.

Faster journeys

They have promised faster journeys across the network:

  • Southampton to London - 8 minutes faster
  • Portsmouth to London - 5 minutes faster
  • Reading to London - 10 minutes faster
  • Hounslow to London - 12 minutes faster
  • Salisbury to London - 11 minutes faster
Credit: PA

New app

A new mobile phone app will provide live information on available seats and levels of crowding.

83% of South West Train's passengers were satisfied with the overall service, with 39% satisfied with value for money, according to the independent watchdog Transport Focus.

Passengers using trains on the South West network told us their main priorities for a new operator are: boosting reliability and more space to sit and stand in some comfort. They also want to see a better on train experience, stations modernised and improved information."

“We included these aspirations in our work with the Department for Transport when working on the franchise outline, when talking to the bidders and hope to see the passenger voice strongly built into the new franchise. Transport Focus is looking closely at the winning bid to see how these ambitious proposals will deliver for passengers."

– Anthony Smith, CEO, Transport Focus

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