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FirstGroup and MTR order £895m fleet of new trains for South Western franchise

An order for 90 new trains has been signed by the new operators of one of the country's busiest rail franchises.

FirstGroup and MTR said the 750 new carriages, in five- and 10-car formations, on the South Western network will provide a 46% increase in peak capacity on suburban routes into London Waterloo.

The £895 million fleet of Aventra trains will be manufactured by Bombardier Transportation in Derby, offering free Wi-Fi, at-seat charging points, information screens, air conditioning, wide gangways and wide doors.

The new trains will start to come into service from mid-2019 and will all be in place by December 2020.

FirstGroup and MTR included the plans for the new trains in their winning bid for the South Western franchise, which is due to start on August 20, taking over from Stagecoach.

Steve Montgomery, managing director of 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.

"We know from listening to passengers and stakeholders that, alongside improved performance, what they want to see is additional seats and we will deliver this via these state-of-the-art trains."

Transport Minister Paul Maynard said: "We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century and this franchise will provide more frequent trains, faster journeys and a more reliable service that passengers across the South Western network expect."

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, 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.

"That agreement also holds good regardless of the new fleet procurement and the announcement on the new trains by the company today.

"RMT has written to First MTR calling for a clear assurance, by July 3, that there will be no interference with the current agreement on driver-only operation and that it will be honoured by the new franchise holder."

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