Published: 3rd September 2014
A new fleet of trains has been ordered by South West Trains (SWT) even though they may not be operating the franchise when they are delivered!
The trains are being built by Siemens and purchased by Angel Trains who will lease them to South West Trains or whoever is running the franchise in 2017. This is why the Government in the form of the Department for Transport (DfT) was part of the announcement as the DfT will be awarding the next franchise by 2017 when the trains are due to be delivered.
So why has SWT become involved in this deal? It puts SWT in pole position to retain the franchise when bidding commences in 2016 and somebody has to order them and the DfT will presumably ensure the trains will be used by the next franchisee guaranteeing a lease income for Angel Trains who has taken the financial risk in this deal.
The SWT maintenance depot at Wimbledon serves up the best performing commuter fleets in the UK and this is where the 30 - five carriage trains will be maintained. Around 140 new jobs will be created which will require engineers, drivers, guards and maintenance staff.
The 150 Desiro carriages will cost around £210 million and can be expected to operate for 30 years under the Siemens brand of ‘Desiro City’ and ought to be welcomed by passengers on the crowded commuter routes using Waterloo. The new trains will be similar to the Class 700 trains being built and now under test for use on Thameslink routes from 2016.
The SWT suburban network is widely acknowledged to be the busiest commuter network in the UK and numbers have doubled in the last 20 years. The announcement said that over 24,000 extra peak-time seats will be provided when infrastructure improvements have been completed in 2018. More than 220 million journeys are made annually, more than double the journeys made when the franchise commenced in 1996.
The longer trains will complement the lengthening of many platforms including Platforms 1 to 4 at Waterloo allowing longer trains to use them. On the other side Waterloo, the three mothballed former Eurostar platforms, Nos. 21 to 23 will also be brought back into use.
Waterloo International was vacated in November 2007 when St. Pancras International opened for High Speed international services and has cost millions of pounds in facilities maintenance over the last seven years of non-use.
These will be used efficiently when International Junction, just outside Waterloo, is upgraded to allow more than one train at a time to use it as it is currently just one track. This wholesale network upgrade has been developed over some time and co-ordinated by the South Western Alliance.
The 10 car trains will be used on the busy Waterloo to Windsor services enabling existing trains to be re-allocated across the network to provide significant extra capacity on other key routes into Waterloo.
The longer trains will also serve places such as Staines and stations to Bracknell, Ascot and Reading and on some mainline services between Basingstoke and Waterloo. Ten carriage trains will operate on the main suburban network for the first time serving Kingston, Epsom, Hampton Court and Guildford via Effingham Junction.
Tim Shoveller, Chief Executive for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, said: “These exciting plans will deliver the biggest step-change in capacity and service to our customers on the network in decades.
“As well as providing extra space for passengers using our services now, the combination of investment in the infrastructure and these new trains will create space at Waterloo that is the essential first step to allow an increase in capacity for our longer distance, mainline services. We will also continue to work with industry partners to develop options for the longer term.
Track, signalling and electrical power improvements will also be carried out to maximise the benefits of the platform developments and further investment will be made in depot facilities to cater for the additional carriages.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said:
“These new trains will not only deliver significant benefits to passengers by boosting capacity, it will also stimulate economic growth through better connections along some of Britain’s busiest routes and create 100 new jobs in the rail industry. This is good news for rail passengers and for the UK economy.”
“We are delighted to be able to procure and lease the Siemens Desiro City Trains to Stagecoach South Western Trains. The new EMUs will provide a value-for-money and flexible solution to enable South West Trains to improve rail services for its passengers.
“Growth in passenger volume in the capital is expected to continue in the future and investment in new carriages for South West Trains helps to alleviate further strain on the capital’s rail network for the next 10-15 years.”
“The new Desiro City trains will transform the lives of passengers travelling on south-western England’s rail network. Those passengers already benefit from some of the UK’s best-loved trains, the Desiro UK, but the Desiro City takes the best and makes it even better. No other train in the UK is as technologically advanced and offers as many benefits in terms of passenger environment, capacity and reliability.