UK: South Western Railway begins operations

The new operator for rail services in London and the south of England, South Western Railway (SWR), has begun operations. As one of the UK’s largest rail networks, SWR will support local communities by providing greater connectivity.

The change in operator will see more than £1.2 billion (1.3 billion euros) invested between now and 2024 on new and refurbished trains, station improvement schemes, the simplification of tickets and many more improvements. By December 2020, ninety new British-built Aventra trains will be introduced (750 carriages, in five and 10 car formations), and the rest of the fleet will be refurbished and refreshed. This will increase capacity by 52,000 extra seats through the morning and evening peak by 2020. Improved Wi-Fi, at-seat charging points, on all suburban trains, infotainment systems and better on-board customer information will make passenger journeys better.

SWR will re-introduce through services between Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth to aid regional connectivity, while journeys to London will be sped up for those wishing to travel to the capital. SWR will also work with the Isle of Wight community on plans for a more sustainable future for the island’s railway.

More than £90 million (98.2 million euros) will be invested to improve stations, with major refurbishments planned for Southampton Central and Wimbledon. Other planned improvements include: better customer information screens, new seating and waiting areas as well as additional car parking. These are all designed to deliver the customer experience step change that customers deserve.

The operator will also introduce new promotional fares, an easier to use website and apps to support ticket purchase. Plans also include flexible tickets for those that do not commute every day and a new ticket for 16-18 year olds to bridge the gap between child and full fare travel while still in education.

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