What improvements can Portsmouth train passengers expect after the South West Trains takeover?

Picture: Malcolm Wells
Picture: Malcolm Wells
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The new bosses of South West Trains have told passengers in Portsmouth they can expect faster trains to London and more services under their ownership.

Chinese company MTR and First Group will jointly manage the network after outbidding the Stagecoach group for the franchise.

The government has said the new operators will oversee a £1.2 billion investment to improve journeys for millions of customers.

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Here is what passengers travelling to and from Portsmouth can expect:

- Train journeys between Portsmouth and London Waterloo will be five minutes faster than before.

- 35 additional services each weekday and Saturday between Portsmouth & Southsea and London Waterloo, including earlier first and later last trains between the two cities.

- 22,000 extra seats into London Waterloo each morning peak, and 30,000 extra seats outwards each evening peak.

- Comfortable 2 plus 2 seating on all Portsmouth fast trains to London.

- There will be more direct Portsmouth to Weymouth services on weekdays and Saturdays.

- 29 additional weekday and Saturday services between Portsmouth & Southsea and Southampton Central, including more and faster peak services.

- Existing trains will be refurbished with charging sockets, new seat covers and refurbished toilets.

- More Sunday services, with many routes having the equivalent of a Saturday service after 1pm.

- New delay repay compensation, including for delays of 15 minutes or more, and with automatic claims for smart card season tickets and advance purchased tickets bought in advance through their digital channels.

- Free wifi on all stations and on-board mainland trains.

- New flexible season tickets, offering a discount for passengers travelling fewer than five days a week.

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A public consultation for the South West Trains franchise was launched in November 2015.

The two bidders came forward the next year to take over the service, with Stagecoach being the party to lose out.

FirstGroup chief executive Tim O’Toole said: ‘We are delighted that our partnership with MTR has been selected by the Department for Transport 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, from the MTR Corporation, added: ‘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.’