Latest Rail News

10.01.18

SWR and NR answer to passenger watchdog over poor performance

South Western Railway (SWR) and Network Rail (NR) bosses were brought in front of the national passenger watchdog this week, following poor performance and disruption across the network.

Transport Focus called the meeting to allow both organisations a chance to account for the problems and explain their plans going forward.

SWR, which revealed a £50m train refurbishment scheme for its fleet in November last year, said it was working with NR to deal with issues and provide a better service for passengers.

However, Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, which has had industrial disputes with the operator recently, said the meeting should be a “wake up call” to SWR, claiming there was “something very wrong” with the franchise.

In a joint statement between SWR and NR, the organisations said the meeting was a good opportunity to share its improvement plans with Transport Focus.

“The meeting also allowed us to update them on plans to improve the service into Waterloo station through an £800m upgrade that will be complete by the end of this year, delivering a 30% boost in peak-time capacity,” they added.

“We were also pleased to discuss enhanced delay repay to make it easier for passengers, including automating the process for smartcard users in 2019.”

The watchdog urged any passengers who had been subject to claim compensation – in order to “send a clear message” to the industry that it needs to improve.

Anthony Smith, chief executive, of Transport Focus, commented: “Passengers want a more reliable service and better information when things go wrong. While welcome investment is being made in South Western Railway, passengers need to be able to rely on the trains today.

“Passengers will be pleased to hear South Western and Network Rail are tackling this poor performance. It’s vital that they continue to work together to produce a more robust timetable.”

Smith appeared in RTM’s last December/January edition, speaking on the importance of giving fair compensation to passengers in order to prompt operators to improve.

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