1. ITV Report

All change on the trains

First MTR will oversee a £1.2 bn investment to improve journeys for rail passengers.

First MTR South Western Trains will be taking over the South Western Franchise from August.

The company is determined to "deliver a revolution in services for passengers" and have announced commuters will experience faster journey times.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling describes this as "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, Weymouth, Portsmouth 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.

– Chris Grayling MP, Transport Secretary

First MTR have been awarded the new seven year franchise and will takeover from StageCoach. The firm will oversee a £1.2 billion investment to improve journeys for millions of train passengers.

investment to improve journeys for rail passengers

This investment will be used to refurbish trains with charging sockets, replacing seat covers and redoing toilets.

There will be faster journeys across the region, and better connections for the Island Line.

14 mins
faster to London from Weymouth
10 mins
faster to London from Exeter
Credit: South West Trains

The new contract will see more Sunday services across the network, and the launch of a new mobile phone app, which will include live information on seating availability and crowding levels. Free Wi-Fi will be provided at all stations and on-board mainland trains.

There will be a new Delay Repay compensation system that will include delays of 15 minutes or more, and with automatic claims for smart card season tickets and advance purchased tickets.

Improvements will be made to stations, which include refurbishing waiting rooms and additional seating.

Our successful bid will deliver the tangible improvements that customers and stakeholders have told us they want from this franchise. Passengers can look forward to new and better trains, more seats and services, quicker journey times, improved stations and more flexible fare options.

MTR is known across the world for the excellent quality of its rail services, and we look forward to working with FirstGroup to provide a best-in-class travel experience for passengers in London and the South West. Together we will deliver a major programme of upgrades, including improvements to both rail services and customer experience, for passengers travelling across the South Western network.

– Jeremy Long, CEO - European Business, MTR Corporation