South Western Railway has been given a two-year extension to its National Rail Contract by the Department for Transport.
The FirstGroup/MTR-operated company secured its existing NRC in May 2021: it was due to expire in May 2023. First/MTR took on the South West Trains franchise on 20 August 2017, and also operates Island Line in a subsidiary operation.
A key priority for SWR will be introducing its new fleet of 90 Class 701 Arterio EMUs, built by Alstom and financed by Rock Rail. The project has suffered a series of delays, but as of early February SWR and Rock had accepted 29x10-car units from Alstom from an overall fleet of 60x10-car and 30x5-car sets. Alstom is well advanced with construction of the fleet, with the 54th 10-car unit on the production line at its factory in Derby.