Sunday, 2 April 2017

First and MTR wins South Western railway franchise

More bad news for Stagecoach!

Stagecoach have already lost London Bus routes 5, 15 and 115 to Go Ahead Blue Triangle and now they have lost the South West Trains franchise to First and MTR.

Passengers to enjoy more space, more services and faster journeys as First MTR South Western Trains Limited wins South Western rail franchise.

We are determined to transform the way that the railways work to deliver a revolution in services for passengers. Two weeks ago we announced a consultation on the South Eastern franchise which explained our ambition for bringing together the operation of track and train, so that one team of people is focussed on providing the best service to passengers. And today (27 March 2017) we can announce that First MTR South Western Trains Limited has been awarded the South Western franchise which will run for 7 years from 20 August 2017. This is the first franchise awarded since the Secretary of State set out his vision for the future of the railways in a speech on 6 December 2016, and marks a new era in joined up working between train operators and Network Rail.

First MTR South Western Trains Limited will use the experience of one of its major shareholders MTR, who operate the busy Hong Kong metro, to deliver smooth and rapid journeys for passengers travelling around London’s suburban network. Faster journeys will be delivered through a consistent fleet of new suburban trains offering a regular, metro-style service. Passengers can look forward to more space, ensuring that the railway can support London’s growth.

Passengers travelling across the South Western network will also benefit from more space and faster rail services as the new 7 year South Western Franchise has been awarded today to First MTR South Western Trains Limited.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling 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 will see closer partnership working between track and train. A railway that is predominantly run by an integrated local team of people with a commitment to the smooth operation of their routes, improving services and performance, is at the heart of Secretary of State’s vision for the network and First MTR South Western Trains Limited expects to work even closer with Network Rail, with the shared aim of giving passengers exactly that.

First MTR South Western Trains Limited will oversee a £1.2 billion investment that will improve journeys for millions of train passengers, and provide a boost for the communities served. The next franchise will see:
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:

  • Twickenham
  • Hounslow
  • Windsor
  • Reading
  • Epsom
  • Guildford
  • Portsmouth
  • Salisbury
More Sunday services across the network, with many routes having the equivalent of a Saturday service after 1.00pm

The government is supporting record investment in rail that will not only deliver new world-class infrastructure but will create thousands of jobs opportunities across the country. The government is committed to creating 30,000 apprenticeships in the road and rail sector by 2020 and the new franchise will also see First MTR South Western Trains Limited offer more than 100 apprenticeships each year helping boost skills and jobs.

The new contract will see passengers provided with better information throughout their journey, on-board trains, on platforms and through a new mobile phone app, including live information on seating availability and crowding levels, so that passengers know the best place to stand to board the train.

FirstGroup Chief Executive Tim O’Toole said:
"We are delighted that our partnership with MTR has been selected by the DfT to run the South Western rail franchise, a key part of the country’s railway network which millions of people rely on every day. 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."

Jeremy Long, CEO – European Business, MTR Corporation said:
"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."

You can view the South Western improvements map here.

I would like to add that MTR also operates the TFL Rail/Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) concession for TfL. MTR is a mass rapid transit system from Hong Kong where they operate Heavy Rail, Light Rail and also bus services in Hong Kong.

75.09% of the MTR stake is owned by the Hong Kong government.

70% of the South Western Trains stake is owned by First Group and 30% of the stake is owned by MTR Corporation.

We should also note that RMT has reported that First MTR has cancelled purchases for the Siemens Class 707 trains.

New privatisation fiasco on South West Trains as new franchise holder dumps £200 million worth of trains

Rail union RMT today slammed the latest rail privatisation fiasco which will see new South West Trains franchise holder, First MTR, dumping £200 million worth of new trains already on order in favour of a cheaper alternative.

The 150 carriages are being built by Siemens but it emerged today that First MTR, a hook up with the Chinese state rail operator, are binning the units in favour of a cheaper leasing deal from 2019.

In the murky world of UK rail fleet operations RMT warned‎ that the fare paying public are likely to pick up the tab for this piece of chicanery that again exposes the madness of rail privatisation.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said;
"This is a cast-iron example of the crazy world of rail privatisation in the UK and the Government should be ordering an urgent investigation. No one even knows what is going to happen to the dumped rolling stock and what the cost of this fiasco is going to be. This is a scandal of huge proportions and comes just days after First MTR muscled their way into the action on this franchise.

"RMT will want to know what the operational model is for the new leased stock and what impact it will have on services, safety and our members.

"If the Government think they can wash their hands of this shambles then they need to think again. The whole debacle nails down the arguments as to why we need public ownership of our railways to end this carnival of chaos"

It will be interesting to see which rolling stock MTR and First will lease for their South Western trains franchise.

The franchise will start on 20th August 2017. 

As my regular readers will know, you can follow me on Twitter and Google Plus which is @CLondoner92

Image attribution
By Geof Sheppard - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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