Following its informal consultation on franchising, DfT has acceded to requests for a formal consultation. The consultation document is on the DfT website. It is complex and takes time to absorb, but some aspects are quite positive for passengers. The danger is that the exercise will be hi-jacked by the least ethical train operators, so rail users should take the opportunity to respond. Closing date for responses is 18 October 2010.


When Stagecoach was bidding for a third franchise term on SWT, its prospectus declared: “Stagecoach’s success has been built on listening to customers and using their special insight to improve services even further. Local managers are empowered and encouraged to build relationships with the communities they serve – consultation lies at the heart of the Stagecoach approach.”

Some rail user groups and the national watchdog, Passenger Focus, recently requested a routine meeting with SWT management. They were offered 10 minutes, with discussion of rolling stock issues banned. Naturally the insulting invitation wasn’t accepted.


The public transport industry is noted for the disparity between its outputs and the piles of awards it collects. Stagecoach founder Brian Souter recently won a major Talent in Mobility award in Paris. Judges praised his leading role in encouraging car users to switch to greener, smarter bus and rail travel. [Source: RAIL, Issue 647]

But why? Since Stagecoach was founded, regulated bus travel in London has soared, but unregulated bus travel elsewhere has slumped. Mr Souter sold his London bus operation because he didn’t like regulation.

On South West Trains, Stagecoach introduced a surcharge on many off-peak morning trains to Waterloo. When the recession arrived, footfall at Waterloo slumped heavily. At London termini where other operators provided similar services, the percentage reduction in footfall was much smaller. Some stations even saw an increase in passengers.


In the previous issue, we reported how SWT snoopers had made a young musician leave his train for writing the word “Killers”, one of the Prime Minister’s favourite pop groups.

Since then, SWT has apologised to a passenger who was told he risked arrest under the Terrorism Act for taking photographs of overcrowding, and luggage blocking the aisles, on a Weymouth-Waterloo train. He was concerned that, in an emergency, passengers would not be able to get to the exits easily (SWT has already ripped out the safety hammers in the saloons). [Source: Railway Magazine, September 2010]

The latest outrage to attract high-profile media attention, was reported in the Daily Telegraph of 6 September, and Southern Daily Echo of 7 September. It also featured on the Jeremy Vine show.

A passenger returning to Southampton from his 25th birthday celebration in London, and his fiancée, decided to end their journey at Eastleigh, two stops earlier, to have lunch with friends. They had two £6 Megatrain tickets, and were travelling on the specified service. There was no question of peak restrictions, because it was a Sunday.

For alighting 53/4 miles short of their booked destination, which was against the rules, SWT fined them £114. But why have such idiotic rules? It’s usually the public sector which is accused of red tape, but Stagecoach is a leading master.

In any case, the maximum hypothetical loss to SWT was £6.40 (one third less with a railcard). This is what it would have cost the couple if they had completed their journey to Southampton and then bought two single tickets back to Eastleigh.

Perhaps Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne could renew his call for SWT to treat its passengers proportionately. There’s no reason why they should pay such an outrageous price to help compensate Stagecoach for its reckless bid to renew its SWT cash-cow franchise – around £600m more than the next highest bidder. Better still, the government might put a ‘professional’ operator, with the ethical standards which the word implies, in charge.

The underlying problem is that Stagecoach managers are required to act according to the Stagecoach ethos, which can broadly be described as ‘How much can we take and how little need we give?’

Stagecoach’s ethos comes from the Stagecoach founders. Of these, Ann Gloag owns two castles and conducted a costly lawsuit which was seen as a serious blow to Scotland’s ‘Right to Roam’ legislation. Brian Souter, who claims to believe in ‘greener, smarter travel’ reportedly spent £100,000 jetting his family and their friends to Russia for a birthday party. Such people clearly live in a different world from the vast majority of those to whom they have received huge amounts in tax money to deliver a public service.

The Echo article produced a massive blog, with two strong strands. One strand involved tortuous and conflicting legalistic arguments, some probably from people connected with SWT. This was the microcosm, perhaps, of concerns that the railways are often driven more by contractual conflict than the will to provide attractive services.

The other strand broadly represented the voices of moderation. Excerpts are below:

“Ridiculous, but that's privatisation for you: railways run by bean counters and lawyers instead of by railway men, with far more government subsidies (mostly directly into shareholders' pockets) than ever happened with British Rail.” [from ‘Smilzo’]

“I honestly don't see a problem with people getting off early. You are essentially just paying the same amount for using less of the service. If SWT want to encourage more people to commute via train, then they really need to buck their ideas up!” [from ‘soton1980’]

“It may be a condition, but what a stupid condition! I can understand you having to go from and to a certain station on the outward part of your Megatrain journey (eg to London Waterloo from Southampton Central rather than the busy & small commuter station Southampton Parkway) but people getting off a train early on their way home actually frees up seats for people getting on so that's an advantage to the railway companies, especially when almost all seats are taken (like the train we travelled on, on Sunday, of all days when we thought it'd be quiet)! Total madness! Perhaps they should get rid of so called cheap tickets & just charge one peak and one off-peak fare and save the money from all the extra admin/policing of all these stupid options! Bring back one nationalised railway system - much simpler and less costly/stressful to the nation and individuals! And they want us to use public transport???!!! Perhaps the answer here would've been to buy additional single-fare tickets from Winchester to Eastleigh & produce just those on getting off the train! Work the system when it's so appalling!!” [from ‘Poppy22’]

“This is absolutely typical of the behaviour of South West Trains whose revenue protection staff are becoming more intransigent by the moment. Not happy with falsely imprisoning people who turn up with bikes and refusing point blank to let them through the barrier, they are extorting money with menaces for something which any normal person with some sort of heart would have overlooked. And we all know that there are at least three or four other stations from which they could have made an early departure which are not covered by any staff. The truth is that there are certain stations they decide are hot spots while little stations are totally unstaffed and unmanned. The behaviour of some of their staff is little short of outrageous and I keep hoping and praying that these people lose their franchise and these staff lose their jobs pretty quickly. Someone ought to take legal action against this company and the sooner the better.” [from ‘Donald 2000’]

“What a laugh. Reading pro and contra arguments. Please, please tell me how it can make sense to fine or force a penalty fare on someone for getting off BEFORE the end of the journey! It is lacking so much sense it is almost unbelievable....only in England...really!!! [from ‘Andy’, in Germany]”

“It all boils down to whether or not you are a jobsworth bot or not.... anyone with any self respect who worked for that stupid railway would not have fined these people. people who support this are the sort who become traffic wardens and wait for 15 minutes by a car they think will tick over by 1 minute as the pregnant mum rushes back to her car.... real sado weeds with no life. [from ‘MGRA’]” [Response from ‘Donald 2000’] “You have not heard the funniest bit; the company would not have backed that employee anyway if it had come to a legal challenge and would have probably sacked him. That’s how twisted it’s all become on that railway.]

“Next they will be chasing you down with a pack of dogs and taking you to the TOWER for execution at dawn if you decide not to use the return ticket at all.” [from ‘sotonbusdriver’]

“You are missing the point that this franchise is one of the most appalling ones in the whole of the United Kingdom and is the subject of a series of bullying and harassing incidents on passengers and a reputation for sacking staff and making them redundant for no reason. You need to look at this topic in the round and not be so rule-bound. History is littered with stories of individuals, corporations and nations being rule bound with tragic results. South West Trains is not a military organisation which can terrorise passengers into submission with officious staff and it needs to remember that. I believe that this organisation should be brought to book and that it should lose it franchise. This is not an organisation that should be backed up by giving it air time by how it is doing right. It is not doing right and this latest thing is just one of a whole series of incidents in which it has proved to be a vicious, wilful and petty spirited organisation. Any right minded individual would want to consign SWT to the dustbin of history. To say that they are doing right is to demean our democracy. This company is by no means doing the right thing and it’s dubious that it ever will do.” [from ‘Donald 2000’]

“To everyone angered by the attitude of South West Trains in particular - the Department for Transport are currently in a public consultation phase for the franchise process. All the complaints being posted here should be reiterated where they might have some influence - here -> /2010-28/ As a regular traveller with both Southern and SWT there is a difference in attitude towards passengers from different companies. SWT are a disgrace and if I have a long list of personal experiences of poor service I hate to think what SWT's total performance must be like. It's not just about running to time! There is also the South Hants Rail User Group (SHRUG) who try and keep tabs on SWT's poor performance. Use these resources - I for one will be very happy to see Stagecoach kicked off this franchise at the next round.” [from ‘Andy’]

“My real worry is that the publicity from this case will put more and more people off from travelling by rail for fear of being caught out by the bewildering plethora of idiotic regulations and jobsworth interventions. Mind you, that would be welcome on the inadequate trains provided by First on the Bristol Route and Arriva on the Cross Country trains. Less passengers more room for me....” [from ‘OSPREYSAINT’] [Response from ‘Donald 2000’: “I think everyone knows that the only rail company which really needs to be majorly avoided is SWT themselves.”

Our Group’s co-ordinator commented:

“This is typical of SWT. I travel widely by rail, at least as far as Inverness each year, and find other operators are normally much more generous-spirited. This couple had paid for every mile they had travelled and, at worst, this was a minor technical offence. Even if I were a SWT jobsworth, I hope I would be reasonable enough to realise that the maximum hypothetical loss to SWT was no more than £6.40 (one third less with a railcard). This is what it would have cost the couple to complete their journey to Southampton and then buy two singles back to Eastleigh. Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne has been among those criticising SWT for its disproportionate treatment of passengers in the recent past.

Brian Souter, Chief Executive of SWT's parent company Stagecoach, believes that "ethics are not irrelevant but some are incompatible with what we have to do because capitalism is based on greed". Stagecoach first got out of the red by selling off Southampton's bus station at a huge profit. SWT has been such a cash-cow that Stagecoach seriously overbid for the latest franchise (about £600m more than the next highest bidder) so Southampton Central lost its busy station travel centre and the popular Wessex Electric trains. The station has been an eyesore for 2 years and a £3m improvement scheme is underway, with SWT paying only a quarter of the cost. This is the kind of hidden subsidy that is costing the country so dearly.

SWT also introduced a 20% surcharge on morning off-peak services to London. Footfall slumped at Waterloo far more than at other London termini like Victoria. To make good the drop in revenue, taxpayers are to give Stagecoach an extra, unbudgeted, £70m-£100m, an amount which could have met the cost of the cancelled order for 14 new trains for Great Western's overcrowded Portsmouth-Cardiff service.

No wonder only one third of respondents to SWT's on-line poll thought Stagecoach should have kept the franchise (result confirmed by Passenger Focus, but SWT published a false figure of 61% in its former e-motion magazine). So long as Stagecoach retains the SWT franchise, it will do anything to recoup some of the wasted £600m, so passengers will carrying on receiving spiteful and disproportionate treatment.

The Government is currently consulting on the future of rail franchising. All details on the DfT website, and the deadline for comment is 18 October. A bit more ethical behaviour on the SWT franchise wouldn't go amiss.”

The Southern Daily Echo of 18/09/10 contained the following: “Off the rails robbery So two young people were fined over £100 for getting off at a station BEFORE the one they intended to travel to. What a “reward” for travelling by public transport. I understood that “highway robbers” became extinct centuries ago. They are obviously making a comeback in the guise of the railway officials. How unlucky for them to get off at a station that is stilled “manned” by staff anyway. S Galloway.”


SWT’s August 2010 Webchat event took place on the Thursday afternoon preceding the late summer bank holiday weekend, and was advertised about one week in advance. Inevitably, many commuters would have missed it.

As always, passengers had a wide range of complaints. And, as always, concerns about ticketless travel were negligible, contrary to what Stagecoach managers have claimed. Just one questioner, referring to Fratton, was concerned about the lack of barriers. There was much greater concern about how SWT has restricted access to Fratton station to the detriment of passengers.

Only about 100 questions were answered but, on the basis of PassengerFocus’ surveys of passenger satisfaction, nearly 400,000 SWT passengers are dissatisfied each week.

Areas of concern included:


* General lack of improvements, despite rising fares. Poor spacing of services in the Bournemouth area. Poor Sunday service on the Shepperton line. Poor Sunday service at Branksome and Parkstone. Considerable slack on Waterloo-Alton trains, also on the 18.15 Waterloo-Fratton. Service into Portsmouth from some stations starts too late, so passenger drives. Long-term speed restrictions between Wimbledon and Woking. Weymouth-Waterloo fast services slowed by extra stops since last timetable change. Some services need to run later in the day. Ongoing delays on the Portsmouth-Waterloo line. 07.13 Portsmouth-Waterloo often late.


* Trains are too short at weekends. Refreshment trolleys taking space from standing passengers on long-distance services. Passengers stand on the 16.24 Basingstoke-Portsmouth while first class section is empty. Seat reservation facility removed.

* Marking of quiet zones has been downgraded. Excessive announcements on trains, including in quiet zones.

* Train catering facilities no longer shown in timetable.

* Contrary to Southern, announcements don’t tell passengers which coach they are in (creates difficulties with trains that split and at stations with short platforms).

* Extreme discomfort of seating in the class 450 Desiro trains, including first class. Class 455 and 458 units have more comfortable seating, but class 455 can become unbearably hot owing to poor ventilation. SWT claimed they disposed of the Wessex Electric class 442 units because of their age, but the class 455 units are much older. Class 450s should be replaced on the Waterloo-Portsmouth line. Passenger has switched to Southern to get a table to work on.

* Trains in terrible state after cleaning reduced. 18.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth commonly has most of its toilets out of use. Diesel units are shabby with frayed seats and missing arm-rests, and toilets filthy. End external doors of diesel units remain locked, contrary to the practice of other operators. All train doors next to a platform should open, as on Southern. Cycle space on trains is not respected.

* Why no plans for Wi-Fi?


* SWT much more expensive than Southern. Only small number of Advance tickets available. Big poster advertising £9 fare from London to New Forest, but only two such tickets available at 07.30 on a Saturday morning.

* Ticket machines may not accept notes or give change, so passengers without a credit or debit card face a penalty if they travel. Screens initially show ‘recently popular tickets’ including high ‘Anytime’ fares to London without making clear that other options are available. Machines do not issue ‘Groupsave’ or ‘Plusbus’ tickets. Poorly located ticket machine at Swanwick illegible in sunlight.


* Gates being closed 3 minutes before trains due to depart. Trains despatched from Wimbledon when ‘ready to go’ as a matter of policy; should await departure time.

* Ticket barrier at Waterloo swallowed a monthly Travelcard season on its day of issue; staff refused to retrieve it and passenger had to spend £20 on a replacement. Guards and drivers rude to barrier staff talking to passengers at Waterloo.

* Gate-line at Kingston too short, and the most convenient entrance for commuters is closed by the start of the morning peak. Subway at Aldershot in a horrible state. Fareham station unstaffed at start of service, so new lifts not in use. Stations like Feltham understaffed and no information available; Help Point responses slow or non-existent. Toilets at Egham closed. Back manual entrance at New Malden closes five minutes before advertised time.

* No announcements at Southampton Airport Parkway station during January’s bad weather, when they were most needed. No announcements when trains terminate short of destination and passengers dumped.

* Passenger twice clamped by ‘gangsters’ at Poole station; now drives instead of going by train.


South West Trains has been fined £15,000, with £5,000 costs following an accident at Wimbledon depot on 1/6/2009, when an employee’s arm was broken. The Office of Rail Regulation says there were ‘serious failings’ with procedures. [Source: RAIL Issue 647]


Passenger Focus is calling for an overhaul of the design and operation of ticket machines, because too many passengers are confused by them. Chief Executive, Anthony Smith, says: “Ticket machines can present bewildering jargon, a barrage of information and choices as well as incomplete information about ticket restrictions. This is the most frustrating of all. As a result, some passengers give up and join the ticket office queue.” [With service like this, who would have thought that tourism is one of the British economy’s major earners?]

Passenger Focus has also unveiled research about queueing times at stations, which were sometimes longer than the industry standard of 3 minutes off-peak and 5 minutes in the peak. The longest queues were observed at Guildford, Winchester and Basingstoke. Whilst SWT immediately refuted the findings, the following item perfectly complements them.


[Update to DfT and Guildford’s MP by a Surrey rail user]

“I thought I should update you on SWT's continued poor performance with regards to their ticket selling arrangements, communication to guards and revenue staff, and ticket validity information. At Woking today, 9th August 14:55 only one ticket window was open and there was a queue of 12 people (this was at the 'main' ticket office; the busy town centre ticket office was closed as is usually the case). As I had just missed my train, I timed the queue and 5 people at the rear of the queue (when the timing started) had still not been served after a period of 17 minutes. I spoke to people waiting in the queue and explained to them that the queueing standards were 3 minutes at off-peak times. Two passengers asked to speak to a Manager so I called across to a member of the gate-line staff and asked for the Manager to provide an explanation or resolution to the problem.

The Manager provided no apology to those waiting in the queue and simply told them to use the ticket machine. Three passengers (one of the passengers mentioned above and two further passengers) said that their transaction could not be completed at the machine. I asked for the gates to be opened and I was told they would not be opened. Myself and another passenger quoted the queueing standard and the Manager said this had no relevance to whether the barriers would be opened or not. She said; 'You'll just have to wait'. No further assistance was offered.

Well I am sorry but this is unacceptable. SWT are in a privileged position that they operate a monopoly. What is the point of having a queueing standard if passengers’ interests are not going to be protected? The thousands of hours people are forced to waste waiting, over and above the queueing standard should be a cause of concern to those responsible for regulating the railways. SWT have no financial interest in properly staffing their stations, and as more stations are gated they seem even more unwilling to provide an efficient service at the ticket office.

I was not able to speak to the guard on the following train, but at Guildford at 15:28 I asked a member of revenue staff (not gate-line staff) if they were aware of the situation. They abruptly said 'no' and 'so, what am I supposed to do about it, I'm gate-line'. I said that if passengers were being stopped from leaving the station by barriers then I wanted to be sure no one would be charged a penalty fare or prosecuted had they travelled from Woking. They shrugged their shoulders and gave me a look of total disdain. I thought I might have at least been thanked for my efforts. The DfT have said measures are in place to report problems at ticket offices – however in three years this has only happened twice to my knowledge. This is despite the fact that everyday the queueing standards are not met at SWT's stations.

Basingstoke on Sunday 8th August 14:30 had only one window open and a queue of 9 people. Ticket machines at this station are frequently not offering for sale tickets to London on the first attempt. Perhaps SWT could put a sign on the machines indicating that there is a problem as it’s been going on, to my knowledge, for three weeks (intermittently). At Guildford on Saturday 7th August at 11:49 there were 19 people in the queue and two ticket windows open. As you are probably aware the travel centre at this station has been closed for some time now and in its place is an M&S store (where non-railway transactions are completed efficiently). All complex ticket requests are now completed at the understaffed ticket windows. The Guildford Park entrance no longer appears to be open to sell tickets (not that it has been open during advertised hours for over 18 months now) yet the National Rail website, SWT website and station posters indicate otherwise.

References made to shopping in other retail environments such as a supermarket:

SWT are often keen to draw comparisons between the unacceptability of getting on a train without a ticket and shoplifters. It has been suggested to me that sometimes railway staff pose online in forums as members of the public or railways staff stating that all people without a ticket are fare evaders. This is incorrect. I accept that some members of the public have sympathy for such a response, but a train station is not a typical retail environment. For starters, if Tesco provided such a pitiful service they would quickly go bust. Can you seriously imagine them expecting their customers to wait 30 minutes to buy their shopping? Of course not; people would use one of Tesco's many competitors. Furthermore, I suspect Tesco 'wet' clean their shops more than once a year. They would be closed by Environmental Health if their shops were as filthy as SWT's services. Yet, the train company are allowed to sell food and drink on their stations and trains for consumption in their dirty carriages.

If I buy a product or service online or over the telephone I often have enhanced protection as a consumer. With train tickets the opposite is the case. Expensive (and refundable) turn-up-and-go tickets purchased online are subject to a £10 administration charge should I change my mind/not be able to travel. In such instances, there is no financial benefit to myself of booking a ticket in this way. I also recently conducted some research online that I will forward soon, and found SWT to be the most expensive of all the London-based operators when buying tickets in advance (for journeys of a similar distance).

Train tickets in this country are ludicrously complex. Operators such as SWT have made the problem worse by introducing two-tier off-peak pricing with restrictions on both morning and afternoon travel. One stated reason, commented on by the DfT, explains that it was found people that have 'invested' a lot of money on season tickets cannot get a seat during peak evening times. I, for one, invest in even more money than a season ticket holder as my travelling needs are not the same on a daily basis. Yet I, along with others, are penalised because the operator cannot match supply with increased demand.

This train company no longer puts maps showing the validity of tickets at many of its stations including Guildford ticket hall, or on most of its trains. The minuscule maps on the ticket machines are almost entirely pointless. If there's space for multiple retailers, there should be space for providing information for the core function of the business/public service. Even a guard the other day was unable to tell me if a SWT station; Hampton Court, was in the travelcard area. The train I was on was going to this station.

Most tickets in the direction of travel towards London carry such a surcharge regardless of the route. Quiet suburban routes cost over 20% more than before SWT's franchise was renewed. Not surprisingly, many such trains are even quieter than before and peak trains are busier as the price differentiation is reduced. On many routes, there is almost no difference in price between peak and off-peak. I expect more restrictions and fare rises as a result. This, along with many other reasons, is why passengers need to use the ticket office.

If I board a train with the intention of buying a ticket, I am not a fare evader and I will robustly defend myself in court. As previously mentioned I have sought legal advice regarding SWT's aggressive attitude and unless a test case proves otherwise, I have now been told they are breaking the law by stopping me entering a station platform (if I could not buy my ticket beforehand by using 'all reasonable measures'). The queueing standards form the basis of any such defence should it be required.

I know with some certainty that SWT are unlikely to take me to court; I have taken hundreds of photos of their closed ticket offices, closed windows and overcharging ticket machines. I continue to urge passengers to follow my example and I continue to request regulation of this company. These problems would never have been allowed to happen if the SRA was still responsible for regulating the railways. I am still waiting for a response regarding the harassment I was subjected to from the Duty Station Manager at Guildford recently. This was due to the ticket machines not offering the ticket I required (Super Off-Peak) and myself taking photos should they be required to substantiate my claim. If SWT continue to threaten myself and other passengers I will use all reasonable measures to protect myself against potential prosecution – including taking photos.

To reiterate on record. I will not wait longer than the queueing standard to buy a ticket if I could not use the machine (for example if the fare I require is not available) and reasonable measures are not made to reduce the queue. I have found a folder at Guildford station that was not properly completed where the queues had supposedly been timed. Where the queueing standards were breached (on all but one page) the queueing standard tick box and confirmation of the barriers being opened were left blank. I wonder why.

For three years this nonsense has been going on. For how much longer should passengers tolerate this abuse? If SWT are so keen on catching fare evaders, why don’t they start checking tickets on a Friday and Saturday evening? No, it’s easier to get more money out of busy people who are less likely to pose a problem. All fare evasion at any time of the day is wrong but not all people without a ticket are fare evaders in this complex and unregulated system.”


After SWT reduced wet-cleaning of carriages from monthly to annually, the national passenger surveys showed a sharp drop in satisfaction with train cleanliness on the company’s network. Could this be why fares expert and Stagecoach lobbyist Barry Doe has a very odd item in RAIL magazine (Issue 652) about a female SWT passenger purportedly determined to find fault with the condition of a clean train?


The Evening Standard of 2/08/10 reported that on July 27, the day that Olympics chief Lord Coe and Mayor Boris Johnson launched the campaign to find up to 70,000 volunteers for the Games, a secret memo warns all 5,000 staff working for Stagecoach-owned South West Trains they will not be granted leave to help out at the Games. Volunteer places are expected to be snapped up by the autumn but SWT staff have been told that applications for leave will not be looked at until 2012 “at the earliest”.

The memo states: “At this early stage, the company is not in a position to agree any requests to take time off to be an Olympic volunteer and it is likely to be the early part of 2012 before we would be in a position to do so. SWT will need to make sure that it has sufficient staff available… during the Olympics.” It continues: “SWT does not want to discourage people from volunteering but as a transport provider in London, the company’s ability to give employees time off from their job is going to be extremely limited.”

Unions are considering a legal challenge. Gerry Doherty, leader of the TSSA transport union, said: “Brian Souter [the Stagecoach chief] is the meanest boss in Britain.” He added: “Souter is stopping his staff enjoying a ringside seat at a once in a lifetime event just because he wants to profit from the Games himself. “Volunteers will not only be part of the biggest sporting event of their lifetime but they will also probably save themselves more than £1,000 in ticket costs by having free access to the events they are involved in. That may not be a lot of money for Souter but it is to a booking clerk or a railway guard.”

A Transport for London spokesman said there was no general policy over staff taking time off, nor had directions been given to staff about booking advance holidays.


[The website information on which the following is based was amended after the hard copy of this issue was distributed; we cannot take responsibilities for any inaccuracies.]


The draft Cross Country (Mondays-Fridays) timetable shows the following additional services to/from Hampshire from 13th December.


06:33 from Birmingham (serving Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton Airport and Southampton Central)

06:15 from Leeds (serving Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton Airport and Southampton Central)

07.23 and 09.35 from Newcastle (serving Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton Airport and Southampton Central)

11.27 from Newcastle (serving Basingstoke, Winchester and Southampton Central)

13.34 from Newcastle (serving Basingstoke and Southampton Central, and apparently routed via Andover)


08.01 Winchester-Newcastle (also serving Basingstoke).

09.46 Southampton Central-Newcastle (also serving Southampton Airport and Basingstoke)

11.46 Southampton Central-Newcastle (also serving Southampton Airport, Winchester and Basingstoke)

13.46 Southampton Central-Edinburgh (also serving Basingstoke)

15.47 Southampton Central-Newcastle (also serving Winchester and Basingstoke)

17.46 Southampton Central-York (also serving Winchester and Basingstoke)


On Saturdays, the additional services are broadly similar. However, all trains serve Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton Airport and Southampton Central. Northbound trains leave Southampton Central at 07.47; 09.47; 11.47; 13.47; 15.47 and 17.47. The existing token Newcastle train at 06.53 is retained. This means that Hampshire has a remarkable service of 23 trains to the Midlands/North.

Sunday service levels are unchanged.


Southern will start running hourly Sunday trains between Brighton and Southampton Central. Services will depart from Brighton at 07.50 and hourly to 20.50. Departures from Southampton Central are at 09.29 and hourly to 21.30 (departure times vary by a minute or two in this direction). One of the four Great Western trains from Southampton Central to Brighton provides an earlier service at 08.31. Trains also leave Southampton Central at 22.15 for Littlehampton and 22.52 to Barnham.

The expected diversion of weekday Brighton-Southampton trains to serve Southampton Airport is not going ahead. However, the services already routed via Eastleigh (14.26 Southampton Central-Brighton and 15.33 Brighton-Southampton Central) will call additionally at Southampton Airport.

PROVISION FOR TRAINS BETWEEN WAREHAM AND SWANAGE Local government has committed itself to meeting the £3m which Network Rail requires for signalling work to allow trains to operate between Wareham main-line station and the Swanage Railway. This seems well justified by the international tourist potential of this prime heritage area.


We understand that column notes, showing the final destinations of trains, are to be reintroduced with the December 2010 timetable. However, the font size will still require many people to use a magnifying glass.


[The website information on which the following is based was amended after the hard copy of this issue was distributed; we cannot take responsibilities for any inaccuracies.]

SWT has tinkered with the Lymington branch timetable, which currently provides one of the most regular services in Britain. On Mondays to Fridays, after the 09.29 service from Brockenhurst, there is no train until 10.12. The service then runs half-hourly until 18.12; then at 18.48 and half-hourly until the last service at 22.18. Saturday services are half-hourly from 06.12, with services after 21.12 leaving at 21.48 and 22.18. Sunday services are unchanged.

SWT claimed at a New Forest Transport Forum in January that it was looking to accelerate the Waterloo-Poole services to maintain connections for Lymington, but hasn't bothered. With punctuality statistics boosted by these services' 15 minutes of slack time between Waterloo and Southampton, and station layovers of 15 and 25 minutes at Southampton and Brockenhurst respectively, complying with the Government’s service level requirement (confirmed by FOI request) was presumably too unattractive for Stagecoach.


A report in “Which?” quotes the dearest town-to-airport rail service as Paddington-Heathrow by Heathrow Express at £1.22 per mile. The second dearest is SWT’s Southampton Central-Southampton Airport at 68p per mile.

Glasgow Central to Prestwick Airport by Scotrail is just 17p a mile, one quarter of the SWT fare.


Southampton Itchen MP and former Secretary of State, John Denham, recently commented on TV that Southampton’s lavish new police station reflected the city’s importance.

Unfortunately, the lack of a bus station and rail travel centre (both succumbed to Stagecoach’s destructive greed) don’t.

Well over a decade since Stagecoach made a huge profit from selling the bus station for commercial development, people still write to Southampton’s local paper to complain. This seems well-justified given the disjointed arrangements now necessary to avoid traffic congestion from buses parked on-street. The passenger facilities, as follows, are very unhelpful to disabled people:

* For Totton/Waterside/Lymington/Salisbury: Buses leave outside the West Quay shopping centre. A few seats under the canopy, and more seats inside the centre during opening hours. Canopy seats not weather-proof in driving rain.

* For Hedge End/Botley: Bus shelter in Bargate Street. Narrow plastic ‘perch’ inside shelter.

* For Fareham/Gosport: Bus shelter in Castle Way. Narrow plastic ‘perch’ inside shelter. Different departure points on Sundays.

* For Romsey: Bus shelter in Vincents Walk. A few seats in the open air.

* For Eastleigh/Winchester: Bus shelters in Hanover Buildings. Narrow plastic ‘perch’ inside shelter. Our Group’s co-ordinator had the following letter published in the Echo of 7 August 2010:

“Even Stornoway has bus station!

Mrs Nicholas (Letters, July 28), like Lorna Wallis (Letters, February 1), highlights Southampton’s lack of a bus station. This is a fair point, since even comparatively small and remote towns such as Stornoway do have one.

The fledgling company Stagecoach got out of the red by buying Hampshire Bus and then selling the less-profitable routes, and disposing of Southampton’s bus station for commercial development, at a huge profit.

Without such deals, Stagecoach might never have become the transport giant which seriously overbid for the South West Trains franchise and cut its losses by measures such as closing the busy travel centre at Southampton Central station. Many other rail stations, from Brighton to Inverness, retain their travel centres.

Meanwhile Portsmouth City Council and 1,500 passengers are expressing anger about the cramped suburban trains introduced by Stagecoach on services to London as part of a rolling stock reshuffle which increases the company’s profits even more.”