South Western Railway improvements to December timetable delayed

A South Western Railway train. Picture: PA Wire / Victoria Jones
A South Western Railway train. Picture: PA Wire / Victoria Jones

A MAJOR rail transport provider has delayed long-awaited improvements to its timetable. 

Changes giving passengers more services and extra capacity on the South Western Railway (SWR) network have been delayed. 

The company – which acquired South West Trains in 2017 – had initially planned to provide the improvements in December this year. 

But in light of severe rail disruption as other popular timetables changed in May, has now announced its plans will be scaled back to allow for a ‘period of stability’. 

In a statement, SWR managing director, Andy Mellor, said: ‘Since before we started the South Western Railway franchise, we have been preparing for a major timetable change in December 2018 to provide customers with access to additional services and extra capacity throughout the day.
 ‘We are therefore disappointed that we will not be implementing any changes to the December 2018 timetable and instead rolling over the May 2018 timetable.

‘Preparations to deliver the extra services, capacity improvements and reduced 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 stability is needed.’ 

SWR, which operates in an out of Portsmouth, has said while the scheduled rehaul won’t take place, it will endeavour to make some improvements to its service. 

It comes as Mr Mellor, in his statement, cites plans to introduce 90 additional Class 442 vehicles – which are currently being refurbished – into service amid the existing timetable, allowing other trains to ‘cascade’ across the provider’s network. 

Mr Mellor added: ‘As part of the refurbishment of the Class 444/450 fleets, we will also be delivering an increase in standard class seating capacity through internal reconfiguration of these vehicles which will progressively increase capacity through to Spring 2019.
 ‘We will continue to work with Network Rail, the Department for Transport and insight from customers and stakeholders to implement the changes to our future timetables and ensure maximum benefit with minimal disruption to our customers.’