South Western Railway (SWR) has announced the name for its new £1bn fleet of trains but has given no firm date for their introduction on its network.
The new trains are equipped for driver only or driver controlled operation and are at the heart of a dispute with the RMT union that saw a month of strikes last December.
The firm said the name – Arterio – reflects its network’s importance to the nation’s capital, with the UK’s busiest station, London Waterloo, at its heart and SWR’s suburban routes the arteries that feed it.
It said the 90-strong fleet will replace some of its oldest trains, offering better reliability and performance and carrying more passengers. Trains will have Wi-Fi, at-seat charging points, screens showing real-time service information, air-conditioning, walk-through carriages, dedicated wheelchair spaces and fully accessible toilets.
The firm said the first Arterio train is expected to be introduced ‘later this year’ on the Reading line, with a total of 750 new carriages to be introduced over the following two years.
Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris described the naming of the fleet as ‘an important milestone for South Western Railway’.
SWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: Although passenger numbers may be low at the moment, people will want to travel again, whether that is for work or leisure and we will be ready to play our part in helping that recovery. New trains that offer a transformed travelling experience will be key to that.
‘The Arterio fleet is a massive investment for our business, and we are looking forward to our passengers joining us on this exciting journey.’
The new fleet will be leased from Rock Rail, backed by what the leasing company described as ‘the largest single investment by pension funds and insurance companies into UK rolling stock’.