First-MTR consortium wins South West Trains



Incredibly, BR-built Class 442s are set to return while new Siemens-built Class 707s will be displaced.

By ‘Industry Witness’

FIRST-MTR has been awarded the next South West Trains franchise to operate services from Waterloo, starting on August 20 for a period of seven years. The consortium ownership has a holding of 70% by First Group and 30% by the MTR Corporation of Hong Kong.

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Southern teamed up with the Branch Line Society to run a farewell tour for Class 442 stock on March 12, featuring units Nos. 442402+442408 from Victoria to Brighton via various sidings and loops along the way. Electro-diesel No. 73202 was added at Brighton to run through Hove Yard to Preston Park – seen leaving Hove Yard. Rather than go into retirement, many of the ‘442s’ are now set to be reused with the new SWT franchise. Jamie Squibbs

In operational terms, the headline change is the return of 18 Class 442 ‘Wessex Electric’ sets for use on Portsmouth main line services, and the replacement of rolling stock used on local services with a fleet of new trains.

Changes have taken place in the way passenger capacity is measured, as the reference to the number of seats has been changed to the amount of space available. This reflects the current design of rolling stock for metro services, where comfortable standing is seen as preferable to a cramped interior layout with 3+2 high density seating and a reduced seat pitch, which has also resulted in increased station dwell times.

If station stops take longer, the capacity benefit of running longer trains disappears – while more standing space provides easier accommodation for bicycles, wheelchairs and those travelling with young children in push chairs.

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Read more in the May issue of RE – on sale April 20

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