South Western Railway December timetable reversal ‘nothing short of an outrage’, says passenger group

July 11, 2018
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A passenger group has strongly criticised the decision not to provide additional services on South Western Railway in December 2018.

The train operating company had planned to introduce additional peak services and longer trains during the regular timetable change in December.

But following chaos after the timetable change in May 2018 , the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), the association of train operating companies, decided planned changes would be scaled back “to make sure people get a reliable service”.

Jeremy Varns, of SWR Watch, said: “It is nothing short of an outrage that passengers are once again going to be denied much needed improvements, especially after months of disruption last year with the Waterloo upgrade.”

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Mr Varns continued: “The SWR franchise was won in part due to the ambition to run additional services later this year.

“Furthermore, premium payments to the Department for Transport would have been calculated based on an expected increase in passenger numbers using these services.

“It appears once again that the bidding process conducted by the DfT is unravelling with operators promising more than they can deliver and Network Rail being blamed, at least in part, for this non-delivery.”

Timetables change twice a year, in May and December, but the changes are usually minor. However, May 2018 saw the largest ever timetable change and passengers experienced chaos as a result .

According to the RDG, eight of Britain’s 23 rail operators, including SWR and Southern Rail, will continue to operate their current timetables rather than changing in December to avoid similar problems.

Mr Varns said all rail fair rises planned for January 2019 should be cancelled due to the lack of improvement and argued there should be no further price increases “until the industry and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling get their act together.”

Andy Mellors, managing director of SWR, said: “We are very disappointed that we will not be able to deliver the planned improvements this December.

“Preparations to deliver the extra services, capacity improvements and reductions in journey times started well before we took over the SWR franchise and will continue as we are determined to deliver what our customers and stakeholders expect.

“We are mindful of the disruption to customers that happened with other major timetable changes elsewhere in May 2018, and despite SWR’s desire to deliver the increased capacity and extra services as soon as possible to customers, it has been decided at a national level that a period of timetable stability is needed.”

Mr Mellors went on to say that, even without the timetable changes, the company would still seek to introduce refurbished trains into service in order to increase capacity.

Article source: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/south-western-railway-december-timetable-14890273


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