Latest Rail News

26.04.18

Probe launched into SWR and NR performance

An independent review into South Western Railway’s (SWR) performance has been commissioned by the government.

Transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has written a letter to MPs, in which he said that he has been “very disappointed” with the performance of SWR in recent months and that he was aware that local MPs had been “frustrated” by the issues experienced by passengers.

In December 2017, SWR was one of three train operators singled out for its poor or declining performance, with recognition that 72% of its delays were attributable to Network Rail.

Network Rail’s contribution to the delays was recognised by Grayling, who said that whilst there has been some good progress in the operator’s performance in recent weeks, overall it “has simply not been good enough.”

He said that he is “determined” to see a long-term sustained improvement in performance across the route.

As such, he has commissioned the review of both SWR and Network Rail “to ensure all possible steps are being taken to improve performance and the passenger experience.”

The review will be independently chaired by Sir Michael Holden, who has over 40 years’ experience in railway operations.

A SWR spokesperson said: “Performance has not been at the level we want, or expect, to deliver and we are determined to put that right. 

Our task now is to ensure this additional £5 million investment can bring the biggest benefit and help deliver our passengers a railway they can rely on.”

Winchester MP Steve Brine has welcomed the news, saying: “I have made no secret of the fact I am very disappointed by the opening months of the SWR franchise, and I know my constituents very much share that view.

“The operator has had some bad luck to start its tenure including a politically motivated strike which is beyond its control but it's right we hold them to account at this stage.”

He explained that the SWR Franchise Agreement has provisions to incentivise SWR to improve their own performance and work jointly with Network Rai, with the operator required to invest additional sums into initiatives to address causes of poor performance.

“As a result, SWR have committed to investing around £5m in performance improvement initiatives in 2018-19 and I know that Mr Grayling and us MPs will be closely monitoring progress,” he added.

A Network Rail spokesperson added: “Performance hasn’t been good enough and, working with South Western Railway, we’re determined to improve it.

“That’s why we’re investing more than £2 billion up to 2024 to give passengers on one of the busiest and most congested parts of the UK’s rail network more reliable journeys.

“But we’re not complacent and we welcome this independent review. We are already working closely with Sir Michael Holden as he starts his work."

The review is expected to be completed this summer.

Top image: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

 

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