Is there any room for SWT to improve?

South West Trains runs on a very tight schedule
South West Trains runs on a very tight schedule
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I SEE the new company to run South West Trains from August has made some sweeping statements about the service it is hoping to provide.

However, I wonder if they have really thought it through?

Infrastructure comes to mind.

That is having the stock to provide an extra 35 additional services a day. The company does not say if it is 35 up and 35 down trains.

Either way, it is a minimum of an extra train, maybe even two, an hour – and that’s at the very least.

Staff, drivers and guards will be needed to crew these additional trains.

And what about what we call the Pathway – that’s to say, finding the space to run these additional trains, especially after Woking junction.

At the moment, there are three trains an hour that travel from Portsmouth to London Waterloo via Liss, as well as a stopping service running every hour from Haslemere.

When Woking is reached, the services that start from Weymouth, Bournemouth, Southampton, Exeter and Salisbury will suddenly kick into action.

On reaching Surbiton, services from Hampton Court and from Guildford via Cobham come in to play.

After Wimbledon, the services from Chessington, Shepperton and around-the-houses join in.

Then, after Clapham Junction it is a complete free-for-all. This is also not counting any specials and freight trains that are timetabled to run.

By the time Vauxhall is reached trains are running signal to signal to get into Waterloo.

Can you imagine these supposed extra trains trying to find a pathway along this route too?

The stated five minutes saving on arriving in London is also a bit of a joke.

The reason why is rather simple – the saved five minutes will be taken up in waiting time standing outside London Waterloo.

Hardly a stellar improvement.

As for South West Trains running late trains, I think that’s an unfair statement to make.

I worked on the railway for 26 years – the last 10 of which I was in control of London Waterloo as a train crew foreman.

In those 10 years of travelling, I was late for work just twice.

Once was because of a fallen tree and the other because of a failed freight train ahead – both of which were circumstances out of SWT’s control.

South West Trains is just about the best you can get, believe me.