New Rail Franchise Update
New website for buying tickets and checking train times: www.southwesternrailway.com
From Mike Southgate – on behalf of the Shawford Rail User Group
The previous rail franchise run by Stagecoach as South West Trains was replaced on the 20th August by South Western Railway. This is a joint venture from First (70%) and the Hong Kong rail operator MTR (30%).
Earlier this month I was invited to attend a stake holder’s briefing by SWR, to be introduced to the new MD and the team.
They were keen to emphasise that their franchise proposals reflected consultation and feedback from stakeholders and the public.
These include reduced journey times, increased capacity, faster wi-fi, new e-ticketing, part time season tickets and less reliance on 3 + 2 seating for longer distance journeys. These will happen over the duration of the franchise and not from day one.
For more details see http://www.firstgroupplc.com/about-firstgroup/uk-rail/improving-south-western-railway.aspx .
Their new timetable will not be introduced until December 2018 at the earliest and this will be available for public consultation this autumn. However, they are hoping to lengthen some trains earlier.
In response to my and others’ specific questions they confirmed that:
- No changes are proposed to the core peak and off peak pattern of services for Shawford (and Micheldever) although there may be different times of departure as a result of the main timetable change.
- The speed up of services is largely being achieved by reducing station dwell times and improved productivity.
- I understand Shawford’s off peak service will in future be terminating/starting from Southampton rather than Poole
- The refurbished Wessex Electrics will be introduced on the peak time Portsmouth services via Guildford from December 2018. This will release rolling stock for strengthening services on this and other lines.
- The existing 444 (white) and 450 (blue) trains will at this point also be sent for re-refurbishment (not all at once) which will include extra seating.
- Car Parking – they have a commitment to provide an additional 1500 spaces across the network and have a main and reserve list but no details who is in which list.
- Improved smart ticketing and better automated ‘delay repay’ compensation arrangements with ultimately a lower delay trigger point.
- Part time season and flexible tickets are to be introduced but again not immediately and details are a bit vague.
- A second crew member will be retained for long distance journeys.
- A desire to work more closely with communities.
I have subsequently followed up on Shawford specific issues. These include the timetable, another ticket vending machine, platform and entrance improvements. I also raised the timescale for any car park extension, which is much needed to provide an alternative to on street parking. SWR have already visited to review these items but these will be prioritised alongside other requests to determine next steps once the franchise is operational.
Car Parking – Usual Plea
There is an understandable concern from the local community about poor and excessive all day parking and its impact on safety, local residents and businesses. There is pressure to consider further all day parking restrictions.
Please park safely with consideration for local residents, and other road users. Please do not block or narrow entrances including the station car park or the width of side roads. Can a fire engine, large delivery or refuse collection vehicles safely pass? The parking regulations are enforced and obstructions to both the road and pavements will be reported.
Any constructive queries or comments please e-mail me.
This article will be published in the September 2017 Parish Magazine, and a more detailed e-mail has been circulated to SRUG members.
For more information, see also: