Who is now operating our trains?
SOUTH Western Railway has begun operating in London and the south of England.
The new railway franchise, which has replaced South West Trains (SWT), launched at 2am on Sunday.
The operator will oversee a more than £1.2 billion investment over a seven year tenure after it won a bidding was against SWT.
First MTR South Western Ltd, who own the new operator, is a collaboration between transport operator FirstGroup and MTR, which operates the Hong Kong metro.
Tim O’Toole, FirstGroup chief executive officer, said: “We are delighted to launch the new South Western Railway. Together with our partners MTR, we will connect millions of customers every week, while investing to improve the network.
“Passengers can look forward to a step change in customer experience with new and better trains, more seats and services, quicker journey times, improved stations and more flexible fare options.”
The franchise aims to increase capacity with refurbished and new trains.
Refurbished trains will benefit from re-configured seating, wi-fi, atseat power sockets, real time customer information and infotainment systems.
New trains are planned for introduction by December 2020.
By December 2018, customers can expect more services, quicker journeys, and earlier and later trains, the service claims.
There will also be up to 400 additional Sunday trains across the network.
SWR also re-introduce through services between Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth, while journeys to London will be sped up for those wishing to travel to the capital.
The new franchise-holder has promised more than £90million will will be invested to improve stations, with major refurbishments planned for Southampton Central and Wimbledon.
Other planned improvements include better customer information screens, new seating and waiting areas as well as additional car parking.
The SWR network will also have new promotional fares, an easier-touse website and apps to support ticket purchase.
Plans also include flexible tickets for those that do not commute every day and a new ticket for 16 to 18-year-olds to bridge the gap between child and full fare travel while still in education.