Class 442 trains

Image caption

Refurbishment work on the Class 442 trains was carried out at Eastleigh

The introduction of refurbished trains by South Western Railway (SWR) has been delayed over safety concerns.

Three Class 442 trains, nicknamed “plastic pigs” when they were first on the rails in the 1980s, were due to be brought back back into service next week.

But SWR said an issue had emerged with a safety feature on the train doors.

Planned new services between Southampton Airport and Poole and Waterloo have been postponed.

The mothballed trains were being refurbished at Eastleigh in Hampshire and due to go into service on Sunday at the launch of the company’s summer timetable.

Managing director Andy Mellors said the problem was a “setback” but safety was “our number one priority”.

He said: “Until this issue is rectified we cannot put the trains into service and risk passenger injury.

“It does not alter the fact that the new timetable will see the introduction of around 300 additional services every week, providing new journey opportunities for customers across our network.”

He said the company would suspend up to 10 of its planned 300 new services as a result.

Analysis

By Paul Clifton, BBC South transport correspondent

This has not gone well. The Class 442 trains should have been in service last year. Now they’ve been halted before they have even started.

Only six of the 18 trains were actually ready – the rest are still being given new paint and upgraded interiors.

And none of them have the new motors that are meant to make these 30-year-old trains more reliable.

That critical part of the £45m project – that’s £500,000 per carriage – will take a further year to complete.

Refitting these old trains was all about getting extra seats into service more quickly than would have been possible with brand new trains – with hindsight, I bet SWR would have chosen differently.

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