The first new South Western Railway train chugged along the tracks at London Waterloo.
The black and grey livery of the Class 444 train pulled to platform 21 at the Waterloo International Terminal, on Monday (September 4), unveiling the new brand.
Ready and waiting to welcome its arrival were Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport and Andy Mellors, Managing Director for South Western Railway.
To celebrate the historic moment, and mark the brand launch, 100,000 half price advanced tickets are on sale to and from destinations across the UK network.
Mr Mellors said: “We are delighted to introduce our new brand today with the first fully-liveried train pulling in to the Waterloo International Terminal - a fitting setting for such an event as it will be an integral space for our plans to deliver longer trains and more capacity for passengers.
“It was great to officially launch the brand in front of key stakeholders from across the network and many of our South Western Railway employees.
"We’ve had a challenging couple of weeks with the completion of the August Waterloo upgrade works but we’re now looking to the future.
“Between now and 2024, we will be investing more than £1.2 billion on new and refurbished trains, station improvement projects and the simplification of tickets.
“We are eager to roll out these improvements which will make journeys better for our customers across the network.”
New trains, extra seats and faster journeys will improve the passenger experience, the transport secretary said.
“This is the start of a new era for people who use trains on the South West route," said Mr Grayling.
“We are determined to improve journeys for passengers and under this deal passengers on South Western Railway will benefit from faster journeys, 90 new trains and more than 50,000 extra seats in and out of Waterloo each day during rush hour.
“We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century and alongside this massive investment in services we are also delivering major upgrades to Waterloo station.”
The South Western Rail franchise was awarded to FirstGroup and MTR in March 2017, replacing South West Trains.
It will steer the new train line until at least August 2024.
The new railway franchise plans to deliver a number of improvements including:
- New Delay Repay - for customer claims for late train compensation (30 minutes or more).
- Onboard facilities - faster Wi-Fi, at-seat charging points, toilet provision, infotainment systems and better on-board customer information.
- Station upgrades - £90m investment for major projects at Southampton and Wimbledon and passenger access and integration improvements at 30 more stations.
- For passengers - better customer information screens; new seating and waiting areas as well as additional car parking.
- New timetable - In December 2018 the launch of a new schedule will see more services, quicker journeys, and earlier and later trains including up to 400 additional Sunday trains delivering a better passenger experience.
Tim O’Toole, chief executive of FirstGroup, said: "Together with our partners MTR, we are really pleased to have the responsibility of running a key part of the country’s rail network on which millions of people rely every week."
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