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Creating Extra Space for our Customers

Updated - June 2014

Our network is one of the busiest in Europe and we have been successful in attracting a growing number of passengers to rail travel. More than 220 million journeys are made using our train services every year, more than double the journeys made when we started running the franchise in 1996.

The introduction of 108 extra carriages as part of the Government's High Output Specification Programme (HLOS) will allow us to provide extra capacity where it is needed most, helping commuters at peak times. This is part of a multi-million-pound investment into rail services on our network and will enable us to run 10-car trains on some of our busiest routes.

The first 60 extra carriages allocated through the HLOS programme to provide more capacity for our passengers are owned by Porterbrook. These require significant modification and interior refurbishment to bring them up to the standard required for our passengers, and once this has been completed, the trains will be provided to us through a lease arrangement to deliver a total of 18 x 10-carriage Class 458/5 trains.

We have so far introduced two 10-car 458/5 trains which are being used to provide extra capacity on services from Waterloo to Windsor and on the Hounslow Loop and Weybridge route. Between June and September, we expect a further 20 carriages to be completed by our contractors and handed over to South West Trains.  Ten of these carriages should be introduced into passenger service during September, and the remaining ten are needed to complete our staff training programme.

All of the remaining carriages will then be introduced in a rolling programme before Summer 2015.

A major re-engineering project

Due to the scale and complexity of this 'first of a kind' project, which has involved extensive modification and creating one new train out of two completely different trains, the initial scale of work needed was underestimated by the contractors and is therefore currently running a year behind schedule.

Porterbrook's contractor, Alstom and their sub-contractor Wabtec now fully recognise the challenges they are facing with this programme and have doubled the level of resource that they are dedicating to this project. We have also provided additional support from South West Trains and will continue to work closely with the contractors to ensure that the programme moves forward as quickly as possible, whilst maintaining the high quality of the trains already delivered.

456/5 Construction

Above - Three stages of the re-engineering process

We have continued to raise our concerns about the impact of the delay on our passengers and in recognition of the inconvenience caused by the delay to the programme, Porterbrook and Alstom have agreed to fund the installation of WiFi on the new Class 458/5 Fleet.

We have been undertaking a series of investments and projects to increase capacity, and the extra carriages are just one part of a wider programme of work. This has seen platforms at 60 stations extended and the re-opening of Platform 20 of the former Waterloo International Terminal. These projects have now been completed successfully by the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance.

We remain committed to delivering this programme of extra capacity. We will continue to provide support to Porterbrook and its contractors to help ensure our passengers can start to benefit from these additional carriages. We are also continuing to work with the government on developing and delivering longer term capacity improvement plans for the future.

Infrastructure Improvements

Longer Station Platforms

Platform extension work has nearly concluded with only Strawberry Hill and some platforms at Clapham Juncton requiring extension. Please click here for a map showing the extension progress.

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Automatic Selective Door Operation

Because some platforms on the Windsor and Weybridge routes are unable to be extended, a system called Automatic Selective Door Operation (ASDO) is being introduced. This system will allow us to open more doors at stations with short platforms. Under the old system it was possible to open the doors on either 4 or 8 carriages of the train. Under the new system all doors that are adjacent to a platform will open.

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