Watchdog calls in South Western Railway and Network Rail for poor performance

09 January 2018

Rail bosses vowed improvements after the watchdog called them to task over declining performance.

At the special meeting called by the Board of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, South Western Railway and Network Rail set out how they plan to improve. This follows months of declining punctuality and major disruption across the South Western Railway network.

The Board asked the managing director of SWR and Network Rail Wessex route managing director to explain recent poor performance, their approach to managing disruption and investment plans.

Following calls from Transport Focus for clearer and more automated compensation, SWR told the Board that it would be introducing online accounts imminently and it also hopes to introduce automated payments in early 2019.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

“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.

“We urge every passenger affected to claim compensation. Send a clear message to the industry and make sure your voice is heard. And we will keep pressing industry to make this process easier and more automated.”

How delays are dealt with is a key driver of trust. Six of the top 10 passenger priorities for improvement on South Western Railway are performance based – clearly emphasising the importance of delivering a good, reliable core service. Improving disruption management for passengers is going to be a key issue in 2018.

Notes to editors

For further information please contact:

Kieran Watkins, senior communications officer, 0300 123 0836

In December passengers were hit by a number of days of major disruption as services across the SWR network were cancelled and delayed following a line side fire and a track circuit failure.

First MTR has only been in control of the franchise for the last four railway ‘periods’ (August – November 2017). Official punctuality statistics show that there has been a longer-term trend in declining punctuality. As might be expected right-time performance averages are lower. Cancellations and significant lateness (over 30 minutes) are increasing.

You can read our chief exec’s most recent blog about this here.

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