South Western Railway (SWR) has completed its £70 million programme to refurbish its fleet of 172 Class 444 and 450 ‘Desiro’ trains.
The programme, which began in December 2017, was completed by the trains’ original manufacturer, Siemens. It has improved the onboard experience for customers travelling long-distance between London Waterloo and Portsmouth, Poole and Weymouth.
In addition to better interiors with improved Wi-Fi and access to SWR|Stream, new inductive charging tables and power sockets, refreshed toilets and ergonomically designed seats throughout, the refurbishment has increased the total number of standard-class seats in the fleet by 1,305.
The investment, which was financed by leasing company Angel Trains, is part of SWR’s wider £1.2 billion plan to offer customers increased capacity, more-frequent trains, quicker journey times and better connectivity, together with station improvements and a better, smarter ticket buying experience.
As the final refurbed train, a Class 450, rejoined the Desiro fleet, Neil Drury, SWR’s engineering director, said: “This massive refurbishment programme is a huge investment by SWR, which offers customers, using our long-distance services, a quality on-board experience.
“I’m proud to see the final refurbished Class 450 train in the programme enter service and, by the end of this year, more trains will roll-out to help us fulfil our promise of offering 52,000 extra seats over the course of the franchise.”
Later this year, new Class 701 trains will enter service on SWR’s suburban Windsor and Reading routes, whilst some Class 442 trains have already been reintroduced as part of the new January timetable, which offers 80 more services.
The completion of this major refurbishment of the Desiro fleet was welcomed by those involved. Sambit Banerjee, managing director of Siemens Mobility’s Rolling Stock business in the UK, said: “The full refurbishment of the 172-strong Class 444 and Class 450 ‘Desiro’ fleet is a highly complex and demanding project, which was achieved through very close collaboration with SWR.
“We are extremely proud to achieve this very significant milestone in this project and to be contributing to an enhanced experience for SWR’s passengers.”
The owner of the fleet was equally pleased. Kevin Tribley, chief executive officer of Angel Trains, said: “Investing in the development of rolling stock that reflects the evolving needs of today’s passenger is a crucial part of modernising our railways.
“We’re delighted to have supported this ambitious refurbishment project, which will modernise the ‘Desiro’ fleet and enable SWR to better serve its passengers.”