SOUTH Western Railway has launched refurbished trains which were delayed for more than six months over safety concerns.
Since the new year, four 10-car Class 442 trains have been welcoming passengers including at Brockenhurst on the fast service between London Waterloo and Poole.
They had been intended for launch in May last year but problems with the door safety systems on the carriages caused a long delay.
The revamped units include more spacious seating, charge points, lower-energy LED lighting and on-board Wi-Fi, said SWR, as well as new Axminster carpets and real-time passenger information displays. Disability access has also been improved for toilets and seating.
There has already been “positive feedback” from customers, according to Neil Drury, engineering director for SWR.
He said: “We’re really pleased that these refurbished trains are now in passenger service.
“We’re proud of the fact the works have been undertaken at Eastleigh and Bournemouth depots.
“This has meant investment in local facilities across the South Western network, helping to boost the economy, and secures jobs for people living in the communities we serve.
“We will look to introduce all of the Class 442s in the fleet back into service as soon as possible.”
The other route now using the new Class 442 trains is the London-to-Portsmouth link via Guildford, Haslemere and Petersfield.
The announcement is better news for the loss-making company which has been engaged in a dispute for more than two years with the RMT union, which went on strike for 28 days over the Christmas period in its campaign for promises over the future of train guards.
Earlier this month SWR was also warned by auditors that its performance meant it faced “material uncertainty” over its future and even the prospect of nationalisation.
Amid growing unhappiness from customers, incoming new managing director Mark Hopwood began his time in charge with an apology and a promise to bring “slow and steady improvement”.