£40 million investment announced by UK’s South West Trains company

A £40 million investment is intended to enhance reliability still further at UK train operator, South West Trains.

The investment partnership includes South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, Porterbrook and the Department for Transport.

The company’s train fleet is already claimed to be the most reliable in the UK, but upgrades to the Class 455 rolling stock that the money will help to pay for should further improve passengers’ travel experience. South West’s 91- train fleet will be fitted with new traction equipment to improve its operational efficiency on the Metro area, which includes London’s Waterloo station to Reading, the Hounslow loop and the Shepperton branch line.

The upgrade programme will take three years, during which the trains will be fitted with modern AC traction systems to replace the current DC versions. Once upgraded, the trains will benefit from regenerative braking with associated cost savings due to a return of 20 percent of traction electricity on inner suburban services, and approximately 10 percent on mainline services. The weight reduction provided by the new traction units is also expected to pay dividends, with a knock-on reduction in maintenance work and replacement of the rail infrastructure due to wear and tear.

Reduced servicing intervals for the new equipment will also mean that trains will spend more time in operation, thereby enhancing schedules and reducing pressure on the Wimbledon servicing depot.

The engineering director for the South West Trains – Network Rail Alliance, Christian Roth, said, ‘Our Class 455 trains are already by far the most reliable fleet in the country, however we are not complacent and we want to make sure these excellent results are sustained and improved even further. The new traction motors will help us to improve the reliability of these trains for our passengers at the same time as delivering environmental benefits through the reduced electricity supply.’

South West Trains will also be introducing 100 more carriages on its services over the next 20 months to provide daily capacity for an additional 23,000 peak-time passengers.