South Western Railway to delay changes to timetable due to low passenger numbers

THE region’s main railway company South Western Railway (SWR) has published its business plan for 2022/23, setting out how the company will meet post-pandemic demands while still delivering improvements for customers.

Thursday, 21st July 2022, 6:58 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd July 2022, 11:51 am

Notable commitments set out in the business plan include:

Boosting Wi-Fi provision across the fleet

Delivering a comprehensive package of station improvements, including toilets, waiting rooms, and anti-trespass measures

Commuters ride a crowded South Western Railway train on the Portsmouth to London Waterloo line as workers in five rail companies stage a fresh wave of strikes in the bitter disputes over the role of guards, causing disruption to services in the first full week back to work after the festive break. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday January 8, 2018. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday on South Western Railway (SWR), Arriva Rail North (Northern), Merseyrail and Greater Anglia, and on Monday on Southern. See PA story INDUSTRY Rail. Photo credit should read: Carey Tompsett/PA Wire

A package of station accessibility improvements

Developing plans to achieve net zero

Signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant

Appointing a fraud investigation team

South Western Railway has reached an agreement with its train guards to bring to an end a long running dispute.

But the company will not be implementing previously announced timetable changes for December. While off peak travel has returned to 100 per cent of pre-Covid trips, commuters have been slower to return making 53 per cent of the peak-time journeys they did before the pandemic.

SWR’s Managing Director, Claire Mann said: ‘The Covid pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work, play and travel, and the long-term future of the railway depends on it adapting to the new normal.

‘Our new business plan does just this, striking the right balance between reducing the cost to taxpayers, who have subsidised the railway to the tune of £16bn since the start of the pandemic, and delivering the improvements our customers want to see.

‘Alongside our business plan, we have made the joint decision with the Department for Transport and Network Rail to defer our planned December 2022 timetable changes. While we know this will come as a disappointment to some of our customers, we cannot justify spending taxpayers’ money on a further timetable uplift while the number of commuter journeys sit at around 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels.’