TRAINS running on the Weymouth to Waterloo line will be refurbished as part of a £50 million makeover.

Operator South Western Railway (SWR) has signed contracts with Siemens to refurbish its Class 444 and Class 450 Desiro fleet.

The enhancement programme, with work beginning next month, will deliver a full interior refurbishment of all trains including power points next to seats for mobile devices, real-time information displays, new carpets and renovated toilets.

Additional benefits for First Class customers include new leather seats and new tables incorporating charging points. The programme is expected to take around 12 months to complete.

Work will be undertaken at Eastleigh, with investment being made in local facilities as well as procurement from Axminster Carpets.

The train enhancement programme is part of SWR's £1.2bn investment plan to "transform the customer experience".

However, as reported, SWR's plans to improve journey times are proving controversial in Dorset as the firm consults on a new timetable.

Proposed timetable changes, intended to come in from December 2018, could halve direct trains between Weymouth and London Waterloo.

Direct services to the capital could be discontinued from Hamworthy, Holton Heath, and Moreton, as well as other stations in Dorset and the New Forest including Sway and Hinton Admiral.

Passengers from these stations will have to get the new Portsmouth stopping train and change at Southampton.

The consultation closes on December 22.

Speaking about the train refurbishment, SWR Engineering Director Neil Drury said: "We are delighted to have appointed Siemens to carry out the refurbishment of our Class 444 and 450 Desiros. This significant investment in our fleet of trains will see a step change for our customers, and investment in local facilities and suppliers. We have a long relationship with Siemens, who I am confident will deliver a high quality product."

Vernon Barker, managing director of Rail Systems, Siemens, said: "Siemens is proud to secure this major partnership with South Western Railway having worked closely with the operator’s parent companies FirstGroup and MTR throughout their bid for the new franchise.

“The refurbishment of the rolling stock will go a long way to supporting South Western Railway to deliver on the commitments it set out at the start of the franchise, including improving the passenger experience through renovations which will deliver better trains and more seats for travellers across the region.”