First MTR South Western Trains has beaten the incumbent operator, Stagecoach, to the new South West Trains franchise.
The new contract, which runs for seven years from August 2017, promises to add tens of thousands of extra peak-time seats into and out of London Waterloo, free Wi-Fi on all trains and at all stations, smart card ticketing, and a new Delay Repay compensation scheme.
During the new franchise period, First MTR South Western Trains will oversee the introduction of 90 new trains for Reading, Windsor and London routes and 18 refurbished trains for services between London and Portsmouth.
First MTR South Western Trains said it would make premium payments of £2.6 billion over the life of the contract.
The announcement today (March 27) also committed to working with the Isle of Wight to develop future plans for Island Line services.
FirstGroup chief executive Tim O’Toole said he was delighted the joint venture had been chosen to take over the route.
“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.”
Conversely, Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Martin Griffiths said the company, which has operated South West Trains for more than 20 years, was disappointed not to have won and felt its job was not yet finished.
“We are proud to have operated the network under the South West Trains brand for more than 20 years and we are disappointed that we have been unsuccessful in our bid for the new franchise,” said Martin Griffiths.
“Over the past two decades, we have delivered real improvements for our customers right across the network. That success has been built on fantastic people, detailed knowledge of the business and strong relationships with our stakeholders and railway partners. But we have never thought our job was finished.”