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Extra SWT carriages in testing phase

Testing is now underway on South West Train’s (SWT) refurbished fleet, as the £65m programme reaches its final phase.

The 108 additional carriages will undergo safety, electrical and brake tests at the Wimbledon traincare depot. The first 60 are carriages taken from use at Gatwick Express as Class 460s, with conversion work undertaken by Alstom and Porterbrook and carried out at Wabtec’s depots.

The carriages will allow the busiest trains to run with 10-carriages and extra services introduced on some routes. Platform 20 at Waterloo International Terminal will also be reopened to provide extra capacity for passenger services, ahead of opening to a full timetabled service from May 2014.

Christian Roth, fleet director for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, said: “We’re pleased to be giving people an opportunity to have a sneak preview of the first batch of our new carriages. As is the case with any new train introduction, a successful programme of testing needs to be completed, and we’re in the process of carrying all the necessary safety and engineering tests needed before starting to introduce the fleet of new carriages into passenger service during the winter.

“These extra carriages will provide a significant boost for passengers on some of our busiest services, allowing us to lengthen many peak trains from 8-carriages to 10-carriages.

“There is a significant amount of work to do in bringing the carriages up to the standards we require for our passengers, however we will continue to work with our contractors and suppliers, Alstom and Porterbrook, to introduce all of the carriages as quickly as possible to ensure they start to offer much needed extra capacity for our passengers.”

Piers Wood, customer director at Alstom, said: “Bringing these trains together is a first of a kind engineering project for the UK. We are bringing together two different fleets of trains – the class 460s and the class 458s. This will bring increased capacity and comfort for passengers, and is an innovative engineering solution for our customer South West Trains.

“As a result, a significant amount of engineering design work is involved. This has included over 1000 technical questions, 600 new engineering drawings, more than 100 modification instructions resulting in over 5,600 wiring changes and nearly 9,000 material line items purchased. Now we have the first two units delivered we are looking forward to delivering 34 further units between now and 2014.”

For more on the complex project, see RTM’s report from a visit to the depot this summer.

Rail minister Baroness Kramer commented on the Platform 20 reopening: “This is great news for the thousands of commuters who use services in and out of Waterloo. Those of us who frequently use South West Trains will be delighted that the former Eurostar platform can at last be used to improve domestic journeys.”

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