Passengers on the new South Western rail franchise have been promised a better travelling experience after new operators FirstGroup and MTR signed an £895m order for 90 new trains.
The new fleet of ‘AVENTRA’ trains will comprise 750 new carriages in five and 10 car formations and will provide a 46% increase in peak capacity on the suburban routes into Waterloo, FirstGroup and MTR said.
What a new AVENTRA train would look like at Waterloo
The trains will be manufactured by Bombardier Transportation in Derby and will be leased to the new South Western rail franchise.
They will operate on the Windsor, Reading and West London suburban routes and will start to come into service from mid 2019.
FirstGroup and MTR, who take over the franchise in August, said the new trains will enhance the travelling experience for customers with free reliable Wi-Fi, at-seat charging points, real-time information screens, air conditioning, wide gangways and wide doors to improve ease of boarding and alighting.
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.
The RMT union said it had written to First MTR seeking assurance that the trains would not be used to extend driver only operation.
General secretary Mick Cash said: ‘There is an agreement in place on South West Trains that there will be no extension of driver only operation and no threat to guards jobs or roles and that agreement transfers with the undertaking to the First MTR South Western franchise.’
A FirstGroup spokesman told Transport Network: 'We received a letter on 16 June from the RMT concerning working conditions for guards, and will respond accordingly via the normal channels.
'Our bid does not rely on driver controlled operation (and it was not mandated in the invitation to tender). We are confident employees will be excited by the focus on higher quality services for passengers that we are bringing. Our approach is based on the needs of passengers and we would make any changes with an aim to minimise disruption for them. We will fully involve our employees, in the normal way, if changes are proposed.'