Welcome to the FirstGroup MTR South Western site for South West Trains employees. Over the next four months, we will be working with colleagues from Stagecoach to keep you updated on plans for the coming franchise. This site will act as an overview of our plans. As new information becomes available, we will update the site.
As with all new franchises, there will be some changes which will focus on providing our customers with the best service possible. We are building on the solid foundations of the existing franchise, so we do not propose to start everything from scratch. We do however want to understand what people think will work best. Alongside the information on our plans, you will see we have provided a series of Frequently Asked Questions and responses. These come from our shared experience of starting and ending franchises. If you have any suggestions for further questions you would like to see added to this site, please find the contact details at the bottom of the page.
At this stage we are not able to post responses to questions about changes to people’s roles and responsibilities as the aim of this site at this stage is to share general information about the new franchise rather than consult on specific changes.
We’ll be investing £1.2bn over the course of the franchise to raise the quality of every aspect of train journeys on the South Western network. A key part of this investment will be investing in our people.
Our aim is to increase our customers’ opportunity to travel with us. We will introduce new, more spacious carriages as well as refurbishing existing trains, delivering more seats at peak times during the day. We will introduce additional and faster journey times across the network with simplified fares as well as mobile and smart ticketing.
There’ll be a number of opportunities for employees working in the new franchise. We invest in our people, offering training and development across the business at all levels, giving you the opportunity to increase your skills and progress your career with us. We’ll introduce a staff app, making sure you have the information you need when you need it, where you need it. We’ve budgeted for improving staff accommodation and we hope to hear your idea on where this can be best invested. Once the new franchise is underway, we’ll get your feedback on what works best for you in terms of uniform. You’ll also receive the benefits enjoyed by other FirstGroup and MTR colleagues.
We look forward to working with you, sharing our ideas and building on your achievements.
Steve Montgomery (Managing Director, First Rail)
Jeremy Long (CEO - European Business at MTR)
- We will introduce brand new trains
- 750 spacious new state-of-the-art train carriages to cover all of the Windsor, Reading and London Suburban routes by December 2020
- We will also introduce fully refurbished trains to the London-Portsmouth route to an “as new” standard
- We will significantly increase capacity
- our fleet will provide 30% more peak seats into Waterloo for our customers than today’s trains
- including 52,000 more seats a day across the morning and evening peak times at London Waterloo by December 2020
- Comfortable two plus two seating on all Portsmouth fast trains to London by December 2018
- Average age of the entire fleet coming down by almost half by December 2020
- Mainline journey times reduced, including:
- Weymouth-London journey times reduced by up to 14 minutes
- Poole-London reduced by up to 14 minutes
- Bournemouth-London reduced by up to 9 minutes
- Southampton Central-London reduced by up to 8 minutes
- Trips from Portsmouth will be quicker with an average five minutes cut from fast journeys and up to seven minutes from slower trips
- Better connectivity on the South Coast,
- Four trains an hour between London and Portsmouth,
- Direct service along the South Coast connecting communities from Portsmouth to Weymouth
- Second hourly semi-fast service between Portsmouth and Southampton
- Sunday afternoon services will match weekdays on most routes for the first time from 2018 with almost 400 more services.
- We will double the number of trains each hour to Reading and Windsor from two to four.
- Reading will see two semi-fast and two stopping services every hour and Windsor will receive two extra semi-fast services via Hounslow.
- We will improve late evening frequencies and later last trains across the network
Delivering a better travel experience
- Providing staff from 06:00 to midnight on weekdays and Saturdays at stations within the London Travel Card area with automatic ticket gates
- Free Wi-Fi coverage both on-board our mainland trains and at our stations, and up to five times greater bandwidth than today.
- Live updates to passenger information screens on our mainland trains by December 2020
- Charging points on all trains by December 2020
- New customer app will make it the primary source of travel advice for our customers making it easier to use our trains, pointing customers towards less busy trains or less busy coaches within trains
- At least 1,500 new car parking spaces across the network and 60 Electric Vehicle charging points at stations
- Toilets on all mainland trains
- We will bring in Delay Repay for the first time, making it simple and easy for our customers to claim for late trains with a fully automated process offered to those buying season and advance tickets directly from us on smartcards
- Free infotainment on all mainland fleet
- Mobile phone barcode tickets will be available on the network for the first time, covering a wide range of journeys
- We will implement our smartcard scheme across the franchise including pay-as-you-go functionality
- We will offer flexible season tickets
- Making rail travel more accessible for young people by introducing discounts for 16 to 18 year-olds for the first time
- Making Advance Purchase fares available to/from more destinations
- Easier to use ticket machines for customers
Investing in our people and the community
- Development opportunities available across the business for staff to increase their skills
- Employee representation at board level and staff champions to give employees a focal point to give their views and feedback
- We plan to introduce the biggest rail operator apprenticeship scheme in Britain – we will launch our apprenticeship programme from franchise start on a wide range of courses
- Wider roll out of smart devices for all customer facing staff
- Paying all our employees at least the Living Wage Foundation’s living wage
- Installing new gatelines at a number of stations to reduce ticketless travel and increasing the operating hours at a number of locations
- Running schemes with the Prince’s Trust supporting disadvantaged young people on the South Western network
- £2.6m annual fund for community projects across the franchise to be launched from April 2020
- Investing in staff accommodation at various locations
- Staff app introduced to give employees up to the minute information on the network and the goings on around the business.
- Seeking to achieve Investors in People Gold status by 2022 (like other FirstGroup rail companies)
- Creating a diverse workforce throughout the business
- Opportunities to develop within FirstGroup and MTR
- An array of benefits available to staff including:
- Discounts at a large range of high street and online retailers
- Buy as you earn and save as you earn options
- Discounted travel on FirstGroup’s other bus and rail companies