Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney has welcomed the decision announced yesterday to award the South West Trains franchise to First MTR, promising to hold the new franchise holder to its promises.
The change of ownership will take place August 20. The new franchise holder is a partnership of the First Group, which runs trains out of Paddington, and MTR which runs the Hong Kong metro system. Current franchise holders Stagecoach have run services on the South West network since it was privatised in 1996.
Olney welcomed the promised improvements but was disappointed that the franchise hadn’t been awarded to Transport for London.
“The announcement of investment in capacity, carriages and stations under this new franchise is welcome. However, there is a huge difference between the needs of commuters from our part of London, and the needs of passengers heading from London to Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon.
“That’s why I am disappointed that the Secretary of State for Transport, purely for ideological reasons, has ruled out allowing the franchises for suburban rail being awarded by TfL so allowing the benefits of the London Overground to be extended to more people in London and on suburban train routes.
“London Overground services have a much higher performance service than other rail companies. Their service also includes staffing from first to last train every day, ensuring that stations are safe and accessible for everyone.”
“However, now that a decision has been made my primary objective is to ensure that each and every promise made by First MRT South Western Trains Limited on new trains and extra seats is fully kept. I will hold not hesitate to hold them account on every one of their pledges.”