Press releases

RailServices Increase Capacity and Comfort for South West Trains

January 14, 2016 [Knorr-Bremse Country]

Knorr-Bremse RailServices has completely refurbished and upgraded 24, Class 456 two carriage units for South West Trains at its Wolverton facility which is located close to Milton Keynes. The trains are now back in service on the extremely busy Guildford, Woking, Dorking and Hampton lines.

  • Two South West Trains Class 456 units are pictured before and after the extensive refurbishment and upgrade programme completed by Knorr-Bremse RailServices.

The South West Trains suburban network is widely acknowledged as the busiest commuter network in the UK, with more than 220 million journeys made annually. Passenger numbers on this network have in fact doubled in the last 20 years!

“In 2012 we announced that a total of 108 extra carriages would be introduced to make space for an extra 23,000 peak-time travellers every day,” explained Christian Roth, Engineering Director for South West Trains. “This is the first stage of the biggest investment made to the network since the 1930s. When completed, more than 250 additional carriages will be in use right across the network, providing 30 per cent more space for passengers.”

The work carried out by Knorr-Bremse RailServices in the trains’ interiors was certainly extensive. The carriages now feature wider door apertures, new seating throughout, forward facing CCTV, automatic passenger counting and guard operating panels, as well as new flooring, grab rails and gangways. Rail Vehicle Accessibility (Non-Interoperable Rail System) Regulations 2010 (RVAR 2010) and Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM) compliance has also been met with new wheelchair positions, passenger information signage, external door sounders, handles and pushbuttons, and a ‘call for aid’ system.

Christian Roth of South West Trains is delighted with the result of the upgrade and commented, “We are investing record amounts into transforming our railways and it is great to see this investment delivering real benefits to passengers, local businesses and the economy. These much needed carriages will provide a welcome boost to commuters through additional trains and services, allowing more people to travel on these vital commuter routes. The work carried out by Knorr-Bremse RailServices was top class and feedback from customers about the improvements to their travelling conditions has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Major rolling stock leasing company, Porterbrook own the trains, which were previously leased to Southern before entering service with South West Trains. The Operations Director of Porterbrook, Alex White, commented, “When the Southern lease expired we’d already had interest from South West Trains. However, the units needed extensive modernisation so that the company could operate a new 10 car system, in line with its franchise commitment, by combining two, four car units with a two car carriage. This would also give it added decoupling flexibility during off-peak periods.”

Nick Fitzwater, Managing Director of RailServices added, “We are very proud to have carried out this major transformation for South West Trains. The Class 456 trains are now equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and importantly extra space has been created by redesigning the interiors to allow better, more comfortable seating as well as additional standing room. The new layout also facilitates easier and faster boarding and alighting of the vehicles. In addition to the interior work RailServices also carried out the new exterior paintwork and livery, refinishing in the latest, dramatic South West Trains style. We wanted to deliver a ‘new’ train in terms of comfort, space and facilities but one that also retained all of the original ride quality and low noise performance characteristics of the Class 456 units and I’m pleased to say we have achieved this.”


Eva Doppler

Tel: +49 89 3547 1498
Fax: +49 89 4444 54193

Knorr-Bremse AG
Moosacher Straße 80
80809 Munich


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