THE first in a fleet of refurbished trains have been introduced as part of a multi-million pound effort to create more seats on services from Dorset to London.

South Western Railway is creating 32 extra standard class seats in the five-coach Class 444 trains which are used on between Weymouth and Waterloo.

The first refurbished electric unit entered service this week, with all 45 due to be delivered by next May.

The rail company – which took over the south west franchise from South West Trains in 2017 – is spending £50million on refurbishing both the Class 444 and the 450 trains which run on other routes.

First class seating will take up less space and the company is getting rid of the guard’s accommodation and the buffet car, with all refreshments served from a trolley instead.

South Western Railway managing director Andy Mellors was on the first of the trains as it entered service.

He told the Daily Echo: “The 444 fleet have been in service for around 15 years. Some of them are starting to look quite tired. They would have been due a refurbishment around this time anyway. With the challenge with capacity, what we’ve done is taken the opportunity to reconfigure the train interior.

“There were difficult choices to be made because the train length is fixed. These are five-car trains.”

First class accommodation has been “reconfigured” to take up less space, but with the addition of leather seats and wireless mobile phone charging.

Mr Mellors said: “We’ve dropped from 35 to 32 seats, so a fairly modest reduction in first class, but we’ve been able to provide significantly more standard class seats.”

The refurbishment will create 1,440 more seats across the fleet, and Mr Mellors said the company would run more 10-car trains from Waterloo.

“It’s about recognising the fact that more people want to travel. Capacity really is a challenge on the railways and it’s making the best of what we’ve got,” he said.

The work is being done in Eastleigh by Siemens, which built the trains 15 years ago, and is creating around 250 jobs there.

The investment will also secure jobs at Bournemouth’s train care depot.

“They’re going to be maintained at our depot in Bournemouth,” said Mr Mellors.

“That’s 90 vehicles that are going to be maintained at that depot so that’s protecting jobs there.”

Richard Carrington, project director for the refurbishment with Siemens Mobility Ltd, said: “This is the biggest refurbishment programme we’ve ever done. The challenge here is the fact that we’re taking these trains to pieces, moving and removing certain things.

“The challenge really of the project is the sheer scale of try and get through in a short period of time.”

He said the company was modifying up to seven trains a week at its Eastleigh work, with up to 250 people on the project. The first 20 trains will be ready by Christmas, with all the others delivered by May 2019.

Mr Carrington added: ”Eastleigh has gone from being a railway scrap yard to a working facility within a year.”