A £900m train order that once looked destined for Germany has been won by the Bombardier plant in Derby.
A fleet of 90 commuter trains for the South West franchise will be built in Britain, in a boost for the country’s oldest train manufacturing site, one of only two left in the UK.
FirstGroup, which will take over the franchise with Hong Kong-based MTR in August, said the trains would provide a 46% increase in seats at peak commuter times on the suburban routes into London Waterloo. They can run at 100mph, should be more energy efficient and help reduce journey times.
The trains will replace German-made carriages ordered by the outgoing franchise holder, Stagecoach. It had used Siemens’ trains for the franchise since privatisation and had placed an order for more of their Desiro carriages, in what appeared to be another defeat for Bombardier in a long-running battle with the German industrial group.
However, First announced on winning the franchise that it would return those trains after two years for a new fleet, which has now been ordered from Bombardier.
The order for 750 Aventra carriages, similar to the trains being built for Crossrail’s Elizabeth Line and parts of the London Overground, is a boost to the Derby plant, whose future recently appeared in jeopardy.
Passengers will also benefit from free wifi, at-seat charging points, real-time information screens, air conditioning, and wider gangways and doors for quicker boarding. The trains will be rolled out from mid-2019 and will all be in service by December 2020.
The change of direction for South West highlights a transformation in the rolling stock market, with new trains becoming cheaper to buy than leasing older ones from the banks that own them.
First MTR will take over the franchise from Stagecoach on 20 August, during a period of major disruption on South West, with fewer trains running during the upgrade of its London Waterloo terminus.
The transport minister, Paul Maynard, said:…