NEW SOUTH Western franchise operator First MTR has confirmed an order for 90 new Aventra trains, built by Bombardier, for the suburban routes into London Waterloo.

The £895 million fleet, comprising 60x10-car and 30x5-car 100mph EMUs, will enter service from the middle of 2019 and will all be delivered by December 2020, replacing the current mixed fleet of Classes 455, 456 and 458 and the new Class 707s, which have yet to enter service. Finance has been led by Rock Rail and partners SL Capital and GLIL Infrastructure LLP, which will all provide the equity investment.

Built at Bombardier’s Derby plant, the fleet will offer free Wi-Fi, 2+2 seating, at-seat USB charging points, real-time information screens, air conditioning, universal toilets, and wide gangways and doors to improve ease of boarding and alighting. Stipulations regarding dwell times at key stations were made by the Department for Transport in the specification for the new franchise. A 46% increase in capacity into Waterloo is promised once the new fleet has been introduced.

Maintenance will continue to be undertaken by employees of the franchisee based at Wimbledon depot, but will be supported by Bombardier. A Technical Services and Spares Supply Agreement (TSSSA) will cover this aspect for the duration of the seven-year franchise, with an option to extend for 11 periods in line with franchise extension options.

First MTR is due to take over the new South Western franchise on 20 August this year, and as well as ordering a new suburban fleet plans to introduce re-tractioned Class 442s on Portsmouth line services. Other existing units will be refurbished.

Fleet renewal: artist’s impression of Aventra EMU at Waterloo.