Reports, Research, Analysis from the South Hampshire Rail Users’Group [SHRUG]

[See Part 2 on www.shrug.info for snapshots of SWT’s extensive performance failures]


Train operation: private profit publicly delivered?

National Passenger Survey (NPS) results: SWT’s former inter-city routes have Britain’s worst mainline services

Totton: SWT’s downgraded service kills meteoric passenger growth

SWT Passengers Panel: still sidestepping passengers and dismissive of MPs from its parallel universe

Longcross incident: familiar chaos on ‘diabolical’ SWT

SWT stations: staffing failures = increased security risks Inner-suburban area: SWT removes late train information Twitter exposes dark side of SWT

More safety failures on Stagecoach buses

In brief

Stagecoach chairman a champion of egalitarianism?

Putting verbal diarrhoea before fact on SWT Acknowledgements / Contact details

Train operation: private profit publicly delivered?

Rail franchising is purportedly a partnership between government and the private train operators, with the intended outcome a public service privately delivered. The reality increasingly looks different.

The sum of the more negative experiences of passengers using SWT’s Twitter facility has something of the night about it: a micro-world where staffing is erratic; some members of staff are unbelievably officious; passengers may be bullied, cheated and penalised for technical infringements of complex rules; customer service is slow and information often wrong or non-existent, station facilities too often broken or otherwise unavailable, and the timetable frequently flexed for operational convenience.

This is scarcely by accident. Stagecoach chose a vicious revenue protection system after seriously overbidding for a third franchise term. Their gung-ho leaflets declared that passengers were to be penalised for genuine mistakes, despite the complexity of the fares system, reduced station staffing, and passenger-unfriendly ticket machines.

Twitter has revealed nasty little tricks such as penalising people who need to use lifts and therefore travel a slightly longer route (such as between Farnborough and Aldershot via Woking instead of via Brookwood). To any reasonable person, this must look suspiciously like a tax on disabled people and parents with buggies.

Passenger Focus marked up SWT’s revenue protection system as an issue but, unlike other operators in Hampshire, SWT hides behind a veil of secrecy as to how many penalty fares it issues. Its leaflets declare: “We have a policy to prosecute all deliberate fare evaders wherever possible”. Unsurprisingly, passengers sometimes send frantic tweets from SWT trains if they mislay their tickets or realise they were sold the wrong ticket.

They might well do so. In practice, even people who want advice about the best-value ticket and cannot get it before boarding, are likely to be treated as guilty of deliberate evasion, and there is clear evidence of staff bullying passengers with threat of prosecution in order to extract substantial sums of money. Our Group’s response to the DfT’s consultation on Penalty Fares (See Issue 126, Part 1 of this newsletter on www.shrug.info) includes shocking examples of the abuse of passengers, principally by SWT, in the name of revenue protection.

Successive governments have ignored the abusive treatment of passengers but DfT itself now faces a parallel threat of legal challenges with costly outcomes. Stagecoach seriously overbid for a third SWT franchise and revenue was below forecast. It then made a successful legal challenge to bring forward government support, costing taxpayers £68m.

The challenge by Virgin Trains (49% Stagecoach-owned) on West Coast forced DfT to extend and re-run the franchise exercise along with several others. This is reckoned to be costing taxpayers some £50m.

Stagecoach, along with First Group, National Express and Arriva then initiated court action to recover their bidding expenses for the other franchises, even though only one bid per franchise could have succeeded. We can only speculate whether the challenge would have occurred without the coming together of senior company figures in the Rail Delivery Group. It might have cost taxpayers a possible further £40m, but the companies withdrew their threats following the offer of extended current franchises with complicated but lucrative terms.

The Guardian of 1/7/2013 reports Stagecoach finance director Ross Paterson as saying “Extensions on SWT, East Midlands and Virgin Rail means the company having ‘nine years of cash flows and earnings guaranteed’. Chief Executive Martin Griffiths claimed that they were receiving ‘contractual support’ for their rail operations, rather than ‘subsidy’ (Herald 27/6/2013). The distinction looks fine. Stagecoach has posted an 8% increase in full-year profits to £218.9 million and raised its full year dividend by 10% to 8.6p. Stagecoach chairman Brian Souter, as a major shareholder, can expect a significant boost to his massive fortune.

Meanwhile, ‘Railway Eye’ reports that Virgin Trains is threatening to take not-for-profit Network Rail to court for the performance of its infrastructure. It quotes the Chief Executive as saying, “We have been trying to work with Network Rail to sort things out but this has been going on for 15 years and we have been left with no alternative,” adding that it was damaging the Virgin brand. Never mind Network Rail’s £8.6bn package of renewals and improvements on the route, enabling Virgin to profit from running a more attractive service.

So are government and taxpayers being held to ransom? Interestingly, following his condemnation of BR and praise for franchising, Minister Simon Burns was positive about East Coast’s period in public ownership under DOR [Directly Operated Railways] in a speech on 5/6/2013. This sits more comfortably with figures from the Office of Rail Regulation indicating that East Coast received net support of £3.6m in 2011-12, whilst Virgin Trains’ West Coast received £131.5m.

Mr Burns sounded a bit like former Minister David Mitchell praising Sir Bob Reid’s BR [See issue 138 of this newsletter] when he referred to "an extended and successful period of public ownership...", opined that "East Coast has delivered a great deal in the past three-and-a-half years of public ownership...", and stated that "the operation of train services by DOR is an essential part of the privatised franchising model."

The inferences are not totally clear. Is the role of DOR simply to provide continuation when franchises fail, or does it exist also to act as a warning that companies cannot take franchise awards for granted? Either way, its important role hardly points to franchising as a great success story. The lead article in Modern Railways magazine (July 2013) suggests that DOR should itself be allowed to bid for franchises, whilst the Labour Party has started to campaign for the East Coast service to remain in public operation. The potential savings to the public purse could be very attractive.

National Passenger Survey (NPS) results: SWT’s former inter-city routes have Britain’s worst mainline services

Historical perspective

With extension of electrification to the Bournemouth main line, and introduction of an ambitious new timetable across the Southern Electric network in July 1967, surveys found that passengers on the lines out of Waterloo were the most satisfied in Britain. BR treated the lines from Waterloo to Portsmouth and Weymouth as inter-city routes. They are now part of the London and South East network.

Our evidence-based History of South West Trains (see www.shrug.info) details how Stagecoach has downgraded rolling stock, timetables, and customer service while the founders enjoyed huge dividends.

NPS Spring 2013 data

The latest NPS findings from Passenger Focus show that SWT’s former inter-city routes cannot now compete for passenger satisfaction with other London and South East main line services, let alone with today’s inter-city services. Only parts of the Thameslink service, which is affected by major construction work, score as poorly.

On the crucial judgment of value for money:

* SWT’s Portsmouth services are rated the 78th best (second-worst) in Britain; with 23% passenger satisfaction. Only the niche Stansted Express is worse; and
* SWT’s services between Basingstoke and Weymouth are rated the 77th best (third-worst) in Britain, with 24% passenger satisfaction.

On overall satisfaction:

* SWT’s Portsmouth services are rated the 78th best (second-worst) in Britain; with 67% passenger satisfaction; and
* SWT’s services between Basingstoke and Weymouth are rated the joint-63rd best in Britain, with 77% passenger satisfaction.

On trains arriving and departing on time:

* SWT’s Portsmouth services are rated the 78th best (second-worst) in Britain; with 56% passenger satisfaction; and
* SWT’s services between Basingstoke and Weymouth are rated the joint-74th best in Britain, with 68% passenger satisfaction.

On room to stand or sit:

* SWT’s Portsmouth services are rated the 72nd best in Britain; with 60% passenger satisfaction; and
* SWT’s services between Basingstoke and Weymouth are rated the joint-66th best in Britain, with 62% passenger satisfaction.

On satisfaction with stations:

* SWT’s Portsmouth area stations are rated the joint-77th best in Britain; with 64% passenger satisfaction; and
* SWT’s stations between Basingstoke and Weymouth are rated the joint-75th best in Britain, with 65% passenger satisfaction.

SWT’s long-distance West of England service is rated much the same, except that the stations score rather better, probably because of the element of community involvement.

Over the whole SWT network, ratings have dropped, since the previous survey, in 31 out of 35 areas of delivery. In terms of the value for money of its tickets, it is the second-worst rail franchise in Britain. Even its highest rating under ‘train facilities’ (81% for speed) is 1% less than the average for the London and South operators, despite SWT’s advantage from incorporating former inter-city routes. The satisfaction rating for the way the company deals with delays is just 45%. Its lowest marking, for train toilet facilities, is just 30%.

SWT’s website says its passengers make 208.8m journeys a year. So its 81% overall satisfaction rate (based on the journey the respondent has just made, so not properly reflecting the experience of regular commuters) indicates that someone is dissatisfied with their journey on SWT more than 39m times a year, or 106,850 times a day. That’s equivalent to well over one unsatisfactory passenger journey a year on SWT for around 55% of the UK population.

Totton: SWT’s downgraded service kills meteoric passenger growth

SWT’s timetable changes from December 2007 saw many train services from Totton cut or significantly slowed. Dr Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East, described this downgrade as an ‘appalling outcome’ for the people of Totton, which is the fourth largest intermediate town (after Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch) on the SWT main line between Southampton and Weymouth.

Station usage (passenger “entries and exits”) estimates from the Office of Rail Regulation provide a strong case for review.

In the five years from 2001-02 to 2006-07, preceding the timetable change:

* Total entries and exits at intermediate stations between Southampton Central and Weymouth increased by an average of 22.1%.
* Entries and exits at Totton increased by 71.7%.
* The increase at Totton (almost 118,000) was more than at any other intermediate station, except Bournemouth, Poole and Brockenhurst.

In the five years from 2006-07 to 2011-12, following the timetable change:

* Total entries and exits at intermediate stations between Southampton Central and Weymouth increased by an average of 16.0%.
* Entries and exits at Totton decreased by 1.4%.
* Totton is the only intermediate station where usage has declined rather than grown over this period.

Various factors may affect station usage, but the timetable changes and drop in usage at Totton can scarcely be coincidental. It seems extraordinary that services were downgraded when demand was soaring. Even after the downgrade, the footfall at Totton (278,666) is much greater than at Branksome (230,756), Parkstone (188,854) and Hamworthy (160,222), which all have vastly better services.


DfT’s consultation on the 2007 timetable changes did not comply with government guidelines, because it omitted the proposal to cut stops at Totton from the ‘standard hour’ semi-fast Waterloo services, whereas less-contentious changes were set out in detail. The slower services which DfT originally prescribed for Totton were slowed still further by SWT, through insertion of stops at Farnborough and Fleet, on the fastest section of the route.

Many trains serving Totton are now overtaken by faster services at Eastleigh (eastbound) and Southampton Central and Brockenhurst (westbound). This has effects such as doubling journey times from Totton to New Milton and Christchurch. On Mondays to Fridays, there is no service to New Milton and Christchurch between 15.35 and 17.01. Totton connections at Southampton Central off faster services from London are not held, even for a few seconds. There is an hour’s gap in the direct peak commuter services to London. Connections with other operators’ trains at Southampton are erratic.

DfT appeared to recognise the unsatisfactory situation, because they agreed a meeting with two members of our Group a few weeks before the new timetable came into effect, suggesting that changes could be considered. However, the SWT representative was intransigent, and Totton has since had a service that is not fit for purpose.

Outside the peaks, many trains from Totton are now formed of outer-suburban carriages, even though journey times are longer. The booking office opening hours have been reduced on the grounds of low demand. The office closes at 09.00 on Mondays to Fridays and does not open at weekends. This means, for example, that senior citizens (major users of off-peak transport) who want information or bookings have to set out early in the day and cannot use their bus passes to reach the station.

The Department for Transport reportedly intends to negotiate an extension of the SWT franchise from 2017 to 2019. This would afford a new opportunity for Totton’s services to be reviewed.

Approaches to Minister

Thanks to Dr Lewis for writing to Norman Baker, after we alerted him to the issue.

The reply from Mr Baker’s colleague Simon Burns stated:

‘The current South Western franchise is due to operate until 2017. The Department has a challenging franchising programme to deliver over the coming years and has set out a timetable for this. This includes seeking to enter into a Direct Award contract with the current operator, to continue to operate the franchise until 31 March 2019.

Wherever possible, the Department will carry out a consultation on the service specification for each Direct Award contract or franchise competition, providing an opportunity for passenger service aspirations to be considered at that time.’

So there is some light for Totton, though at the end of a very long tunnel of Stagecoach gloom for passengers generally (as articulated in SWT’s Webchat events and Twitter records, and the National Passenger Surveys).

With a general election in 2015, the Labour Party expressing little enthusiasm for franchising, and the current government suggesting that passengers should have a say in whether operators are awarded further franchise periods, the future is unclear. However, there is at least hope that Stagecoach’s greed-driven ethos will have had its day on SWT within six years, with the network finally returned to something which the company’s tweeters might consider professional operation.

Interestingly, Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton, has also been asking when the franchising arrangements for SWT will be formally reviewed and whether the future franchising arrangements will be subject to open consultation (Hansard, 24/06/2013). There could be an eventual explosion of interest in these issues, given passengers’ poor perceptions of Stagecoach operation of the franchise.

SWT Passengers Panel: still sidestepping passengers and dismissive of MPs in its parallel universe

SWT’s Managing Director was quick to comment that SWT’s overall NPS rating was on par with those of other London and South East operators. This is certainly not the case when value for money is considered. For example, SWT’s Portsmouth services are rated at 23%, whilst Southern’s Sussex Coast services into Portsmouth are rated at 39%. In addition, there are issues with Stagecoach attitudes which clearly do mark SWT apart.

As ever, SWT’s Stagecoach-controlled Passengers Panel is used to make light of passenger dissatisfaction. Typically, a March 2013 item on its website includes the following vague and totally unsupported findings:

“What do people really think of South West Trains? We’re not talking now about what stories the Daily Mail or the Telegraph thinks might boost its circulation, nor are we talking about what a few MPs in a debate in the House of Commons think would go down well with their constituents. What we are talking about is what real passengers feel about the service they get and the things they feel they ought to get….

… from time to time, a team of Panel members will board a train and spend a couple of hours speaking to passengers on a ‘one to one’ basis to try and get an insight into passengers feelings on particular subjects. Last December we did this on a number of trains in the early evening. As always, the general overall feeling is that South West Trains are not bad. Indeed, quite a number of people go much further and say that they are really quite good. For a number it is not really what one might call a ‘ringing endorsement’. Yes, they think SWT are OK – but largely because they do not expect much more. But in the end, there is no doubt, passengers in general think South West Trains are OK.

This sounds familiar. Years ago, the Passengers Panel pages in SWT’s erstwhile e-motion magazine included things like:

“As the voice of train passengers on SWT, it’s vital that we understand the issues that really matter to you so that we can protect your interests and ensure your views are strongly represented. The politician faced with a rail problem and little idea of how to deal with it cries “We have to put passengers first”. If they have no idea at all, “have” becomes “determined” [sic] and they shout even more. Isn’t there a saying ‘the louder they shout their innocence, the faster we count the spoons?”.

And like this, which is attributed to an anonymous and probably imaginary SWT commuter:

“I think that South West Trains has done a pretty good job recently and deserves a new franchise, and I’m not alone in this. Before all of you at the Panel groan and consign my letter to the waste-paper basket as just a note from another sycophant, let me hasten to add that there are a number of my fellow passengers who would not agree, which is exactly why I am writing. What can the ordinary passenger do to make his or her views heard by whoever awards the new franchises?”

Such recycled verbal garbage is presumably intended as an antidote to prolonged and serious failings on SWT as highlighted in Twitter and SWT’s ‘Webchat’ events, as well as in the NPS results.

Ironically, given that the Passengers Panel is declaredly so independent, it is accessed via the “Contact us” link on SWT’s website. One wonders how many passengers actually find it. At least one person did, a David Lindesay who posted the following on 20 March 2013:

“What I want from SWT is very simple: –

1. Trains run on time, without cancellations or delays unless the weather is TRULY extreme – by which I mean more than 3 inches of snow. Cancelling trains after a slightly chilly night and then still having them delayed, cancelled and out of position or un-crewed 10 hours later is simply unacceptable.

2. Ticket machines that always work and at a speed that is faster than a snail.

3. Rural car parking at prices that are substantially lower than those in central London.

I do hope that they will deliver on at least one of these three before I retire in 10 years time, but I won’t be holding my breath – instead, I’ll continue to drive to London twice each week and use the trains as little as possible.”

This blows a hole in the Passengers Panel’s fantasies, but Mr Lindesay can rely on his comments being ignored. Stagecoach chairman Brian Souter once handed copies of Christian Wolmar’s damning ‘Stagecoach’ book to his managers, along with the following quotation from Robert Burns:

‘O was some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see orsels as others see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
And foolish notion.’

Put otherwise, Mr Souter’s view that “ethics are not irrelevant, but some are incompatible with what we have to do because capitalism is based on greed” is a case of tunnel vision. His words neatly encapsulate the thinking which has made the UK economy what it is today.

Longcross incident: familiar chaos on ‘diabolical’ SWT

Relevant SWT PR

‘The first year of the (SWT/Network Rail) alliance has been both interesting and challenging and highlighted that by working together we can deliver better results than could be achieved by working individually’ – SWT Managing Director Tim Shoveller on 29/4/2013.

The reality [Source: Get Surrey, 10/05/2013. Article by Russell Butt]

“Angry railway users have lashed out at South West Trains' management after a fallen tree caused some to endure six-hour commutes on Thursday evening. Hundreds of passengers suffered travel misery after being stuck for hours at Longcross, near Chertsey, when their train struck a tree that had fallen across the tracks.

Tempers were tested and some passengers even tried to force open the doors so they could leave the 5.20pm service from London Waterloo to Reading, after it was held on the line while maintenance workers dealt with the situation. Eventually the passengers were taken back to a deserted Virginia Water station at around 11pm, and completed their journeys via replacement bus services, taxis and minibuses.

South West Trains (SWT) confirmed the train struck a tree that had fallen on the line near Longcross station and apologised to customers whose journeys were delayed.

Warfield marketing director, Tony Larks, normally has a 55-minute commute by train to Ascot after work - but he finally got home at 12.30am on Friday. "It just felt like it was going on forever," he said. "There didn't seem to be any sort of plan for how to get passengers off the train or how to get the train going again.”

"At the end of the day we hit a tree, I would not say it was the biggest tree in the world, but it did damage a power cable. I think anybody can accept there was an incident but to get to Virginia Water and find there was no management from South West Trains there, just a train cleaner, was shocking. It was diabolical." He was on his own with several hundred angry passengers.

"The management is just appalling and has no idea how to deal with a crisis. In my carriage there was a woman having a panic attack and a couple of diabetics and there was no plan in place for them.”

Software engineer Peter Wise, from Bracknell, said: "It astonishes me quite how badly South West Trains manages to handle incidents on their lines. This is not the first but certainly my worst experience with them. And for that service I pay nearly £4,000 for a seat which is not big enough for an adult to fit on.”

"I don't think anyone can blame them for a tree being on the line, or for the train hitting it. But it is what happens after such an incident that is the problem. I don't blame the guard on the train who did his best to try and keep people informed, but he had limited information himself I suspect. I cannot imagine what would have happened if this had been a peak rush hour train with standing room only."”

Response to article on Get Surrey blog

“As one of the people stuck on the train I can also confirm what a diabolical service we received on Thursday. There was clearly no organisation whatsoever. There was no mention of any kind of reimbursement (I normally leave the office at 5pm and get home to my door at 7pm - on this occasion I walked in at 23.50). They kept changing their minds as to what they were going to do. Walk down the track to Longcross. Then changed to waiting for engineers. Then waiting for a replacement train behind ours which they were not going to couple but then decided they had to couple. Then there were promises of arranged taxis for everyone from Virginia Water to all the stops along the line. This was changed to trying to run our new train on the opposite track through to Ascot to get connecting train. After another wait at Virginia Water this was then not possible so we all rushed for the one coach which was full and left leaving many of us to our own devices in the rain at 11pm.

Apparently there had been a manager somewhere but he/she got on a train to Waterloo and disappeared into the sunset. So most of us had to fork out for taxis home with the vague promise from the driver that these cabs would be reimbursed. Also there were rumours that any taxis should only be to our respective stations, not our homes. This left me with the possible delight of walking home after 11pm on my own in the rain. There were no refreshments of any kind and no concern for people who had to get home. One woman at Virginia Water was distraught as she didn't have the cash for a taxi and had kids at home waiting for her.

Another delightful part of the journey was having to use the facilities on board the train - something not to be attempted by the faint hearted. So yes, I am annoyed that their concern was not remotely for getting their passengers home in a safe and timely manner and that no-one was there to organise anything. And I pay £4,000 a year for the privilege!”

SWT stations: staffing failures = increased security risks

Relevant quote

‘Safety is at the heart of everything we do’ – SWT General Manager Tim Shoveller on announcing the appointment of a new Safety and Assurance Director to the SWT/Network Rail Alliance.

Staffing failures at more than 50 ticket offices during April-June

Unstaffed stations present a range of security risks. In many cases, stations have only ‘facility managers’ whose principal task is to sell tickets. Yet, during the past three months, SWT’s website has advertised failures (in some cases prolonged and/or repeated) to staff ticket offices even during advertised opening hours at Aldershot, Andover, Ash, Ashford, Bagshot, Basingstoke, Brockenhurst, Camberley, Chandlers Ford, Chertsey, Dorchester South, Esher, Ewell West, Fareham, Farnborough, Farncombe, Fleet, Fratton, Hampton Wick, Havant, Hedge End, Hersham, Hounslow, Liphook, Liss, London Waterloo, Lymington Town, Micheldever, Milford, Petersfield, Pokesdown, Portchester, Portsmouth & Southsea, Portsmouth Harbour, Raynes Park, Rowlands Castle, Salisbury, Shepperton, Southampton Airport Parkway, Sunningdale, Swanwick, Upper Halliford, Walton-on-Thames, Weybridge, Weymouth, Whitchurch, Winchester, Winchfield, Windsor & Eton, Wokingham, Wool and Worplesdon. It is clear from Twitter, and from individual reports that we receive, that the real position is even worse than this.

Security failures at Guildford station From the Surrey Advertiser of 13/5/2013:

‘Evening 'drunken free for all' at Guildford station By Nick Edmondson

Security levels at Guildford railway station during evenings have been criticised as ‘non-existent’, with regular drunken fights and antisocial behaviour.

South West Trains (SWT) has installed additional security cameras at the station where Ryan Harrison fell to his death between a train and a platform, under suspicious circumstances, late at night on March 30. However, members of the public and Guildford’s MP have voiced concerns about evening safety at the station, especially when passenger gates are opened at 10pm. There were no members of staff present on the platform when 22-year-old Mr Harrison, from Woking, died following an altercation on platform five.

Jeremy Varns, of Ardmore Avenue, Stoughton, who regularly takes late trains through Guildford, said the station was a ‘free for all’ for antisocial behaviour late in the evening. He said: “Once you get past 10pm, all of the gates are open and anyone is wandering around the station. You have drunk people, groups of youths who wait on the platform for the gate to open so they never need to buy a ticket and there is often a lot of trouble. There is no way that SWT is taking responsibility for the safety of its customers.

I have seen it all. There are arguments, drunk people staggering around and one time I even saw people running along the tracks. People can do what they want. Most of the time a security presence is basically non-existent. A couple of times I have seen two people in orange vests but they don’t get involved in anything. There is a constantly threatening atmosphere. People don’t feel safe and why would they? SWT seems to be very secure when it is trying to get as much money as possible out of its commuters but it’s a different story late at night.”

Guildford MP Anne Milton said members of the public had contacted her on numerous occasions to raise concerns over security at the station. She said she had been passed reports of drug-dealing taking place on trains, fights and railway staff feeling threatened and unsafe, as well as passengers. “I generally receive a steady number of comments about the station from people who are concerned about it,” she said. “At some of the busy times it would seem it is not so bad but during the late periods it is a continuous concern. We want people to use public transport as much as possible but they have to feel safe in order to do so. It would seem there are people who don’t. This is all about public perception. People need to feel safe and it often takes a tragedy like what recently happened for people to take a look at how we can improve things.”

A spokesman for SWT said: “We continuously monitor levels of staffing and security measures at our stations to ensure we are providing customers with the best possible service. Guildford station remains accredited under the Department for Transport’s secure stations scheme. Rail community officers and British Transport Police provide a regular visible presence at the station and security guards are in place at appropriate times to provide support and reassurance to staff and customers. In recent months, additional CCTV has been installed around the ticket barrier gates and the number of cameras across the whole station has been increased.” SWT declined to reveal the number of security staff or cameras it has at the station as it states those facts could ‘encourage’ antisocial behaviour. [This only makes sense if “the number of” means “how few”.]

In order to receive secure stations accreditation, a station does not have to meet any targets for staff numbers. DfT guidance on the scheme states: “Staff can play an important role in deterring offenders and providing reassurance to passengers. The desire for staff presence can be addressed by sensitive deployment of staff, by increasing their visibility and mobility and widening their range of responsibilities.” [Anne Milton forwarded Mr Varns a letter from Mr Shoveller to DfT, which simply ignored the fatality and commented dismissively that “SWT are meeting all their secure stations requirements and that the franchise does not require them to check tickets or staff stations in the evening”.

On another point from Mr Varns, that a ticket machine failed to issue a ticket after he had paid for it by entering his PIN, Mr Shoveller said he should have used another machine and must buy a ticket before travel [presumably meaning, “pay twice, or risk prosecution”].

Inner-suburban area: SWT removes late train information

SWT has removed information about delayed London-bound trains at stations between New Malden/Barnes and Vauxhall inclusive. Instead of showing the scheduled and expected departure times of individual trains, screens will simply show how many minutes to the next departure.

Unsurprisingly, Twitter reveals that passengers weren’t fooled. Comments included:

* It's to hide how late trains are surely ...
* So we can't tell how late a train is anymore?
* What a disgrace. You are making sure no one can identify late running but disguising it as an improvement.
* Absolutely agree. Very much a South West Trains fail. Alongside their computerised announcements apologising for delays.
* So officially giving up on the concepts of timetables at last. Makes sense given their record.

Twitter exposes dark side of SWT

A fair number of passengers are looking to Twitter for help in their SWT nightmares. They hate all the rip-offs, problems with trains and stations, information deficit, cancelled stops, not getting replies from customer services, and the rudeness and aggression of SOME members of staff. It must all be pretty depressing for decent members of staff as well.

MPs’ tweets

* Tweet to SWT from former Winchester MP, Mark Oaten, on 7/4/2013: “Such a rude South West Train guard. Total disgrace. What can I do to complain?

* Tweets to SWT from Anne Milton, MP for Guildford, on 25/6/2013: “Wish there were big signs on ticket machines to tell people when fares go down; cross passenger today paid peak fare for 9.34. [Response: As soon as the last peak service has departed this changes automatically. We might have had a lag in the system.] There is quite a delay though - maybe as much as 8 minutes. I waited but the understandably angry man there this morning didn't. [Follow up 26/6/2013:] Has someone changed the timings on the machines yet? [Response: Hi, could you let us know where this was so we can get it looked into please?] Tweeted you yesterday with this information! It’s Guildford mainline and there is more than a 5 minute delay on the price change.

Other passengers’ tweets (with some minor linguistic tidying / corrections)



* You guys really are a joke. Are you regulated? Do you deliberately exploit the monopoly you hold? (Rhetorical)
* South West Trains have taken the **** this morning. I am absolutely disappointed and disgusted in their services.
* You are simply ripping people off for the amount we pay and the service that we get - you should be ashamed. You are a disgrace; it's no wonder the country is in a **** state, your whole system is late and I am too now. Sort it out. Think it's time your company held its hand up and admitted you're not up to the job. Embarrassing on a daily basis quite frankly.

Customer services

* Why does your customer service department consistently take longer than the already ridiculous 20 work days to answer queries? [Response: Sometimes this can happen. I am aware they have a large backlog and are working hard to respond to as many people as possible.] Is failing to respond within 20 days not a violation of your charter?
* Sorry to be bearer of bad news. The SWT customer service is horrific also.
* Why have I just had to endure the run around through a call centre in India simply in order to take a bike on a train?
* A £10 fee for an automated refund system is a rip-off! Also nobody answers your freephone number. Seven times it was left to ring out.
* Who do I complain to about an unanswered complaint e’mail I sent your Customer services over a month ago?
* Got any photos of your Customer Services department? Please include the dart board and the lazy-boy chairs.
* Late trains on March 6th/7th - so far I've had two woolly letters and NO reimbursement. How long does it take to print a cheque?
* I sent an e’mail to your customer services 13 days ago with no reply. Your agreement is response within 5 working days.. help please?

Disabled people

* My mum’s in a wheelchair, and when we go to London they say they will phone through but nobody is ever there to meet us.
* Tried Vauxhall in wheelchair twice today. Lift was locked off and staff absent or clueless. Without assistant would have been stranded.
* You need to be more helpful to all disabled people in special buggies or wheel chair users. Also, Saturday/Sunday 18th & 19th May is the big event at London Zoo for disabled people. Hope you improve services before then?
* What is the point of booking assistance on a train from Dorchester to Waterloo if you don't tell the train guard about it!!


* 06.52 from Weybridge to Waterloo cancelled. Now having to wait extra 20 minutes for next one. No explanation given either.
* Love it when the train is stuck at a station for 10 minutes plus, but the guard doesn't tell you why.
* Why is there only one announcement per train at Southampton Central currently. It’s nice to know when the train is actually approaching. One announcement about 3 minutes before arrival, nothing else.
* Any updates on the PA at Southampton? Has there been any response to the issue?
* 12.45 has been waiting one hour outside Clapham Junction. No voice over.
* The board said my train went to Guildford, but it didn't; now I’ve ended up in the middle of nowhere!
* At Waterloo we were told to leave the train "within 60 seconds" as it was being taken out of service. Not your finest moment. Typical, get a slightly delayed train at Waterloo and we go nowhere. Why no announcements…No announcement on the train as to delay or suggestion to get another train.
* No announcement of cancellation of 07.46 from Petersfield to Waterloo, just disappeared from the board! Why?! [Response: This did not call at Petersfield as it was heavily delayed by a broken down train earlier at Fratton.]
* I know! Only because NRE online said it was cancelled at Havant, but no platform announcement is unacceptable service!
* I asked SWT why the 07:37 was delayed (now cancelled) They couldn't be bothered to reply!
* Point blank REFUSE to pay for your shocking service tonight. Fine if there are problems but your lack of communication is outrageous.
* Thanks, once again, for a cancelled train (fault again) and for NOT informing us (8.15 Walton). SORT IT OUT, PATHETIC!
* Still no announcements upon train approaching at Southampton Central. [Response: Hi, there is a fault at Southampton regarding automatic announcements when trains approach, and as a result they cannot be made.] Quite dangerous considering freight is not announced before it passes!
* SWT staff are clueless. [Staff name], guard on the 08.50 to Woking. Out of his depth. [Response: Hi, what happened?] Or what is still happening... Go back to the concourse, concourse staff say get on the train, I'm saying go back to the concourse.
* Seeking clarity! Your telephone line, Twitter & website conflict with one another - are there trains from Surbiton, Hampton Court & Esher tomorrow?
* Staff at Egham telling people to wait on the platform for the 5:21 to Weybridge; website says its cancelled. [Response: It's unlikely that one will be able to get to Weybridge. Can get to Virginia Water, then replacement transport from there.] You'd better tell the staff at Egham, people are getting angry at their ineptness.
* Passenger information at Vauxhall is playing games tonight sending us on wrong trains what is happening?
* Ten minute delay on website from Liss to Petersfield. The 19.30 arrived at Portsmouth & Southsea at 21.31 instead of 21.01, that’s 30 minutes delay!!
* Auto announcements on 16.20 Waterloo-Woking are playing in reverse again. "Next station is Vauxhall" at Clapham Junction etc...


* Trains hurtling through our station, yet no trains stopping here for 20 minutes due to delays. Make some stopping services.
* Yet again your organisation ruins my plans for another day.
* I've been travelling over 2 hours thanks to SWT and I'm not home yet! 13 miles - that's a great train record for you!!!
* Train from Ascot! Missed my last bus - what to do now? [Response: Sorry for the delay, it was caused by a disruptive passenger at Clapham Junction.] That is a ** excuse. You are pathetic. How about reimbursing us for taxi fare!
* Sorry but you are totally incompetent. How can 4 trains go to one place within a 90 minute period but none go to another?
* Huge sympathy for my friend who's been stuck at Wimbledon for 2hrs! I thought delays were only up to 60mins???
* You made us 2 hours late and then want to abandon us at Epsom?? [Response: We have to alter some trains to keep others moving.] It's not our fault!!! and we have no option but to use your service. Yet we're the ones charged & penalised.
* Thursday, Friday and now Monday, never a journey without delays and problems!!
* Train leaving the station three minutes early? That's helpful!! 1659 Kingston to Waterloo via Richmond. I just got on but people behind me didn't. We then sat at Hampton Wick for four minutes.
* I could have run to Vauxhall faster this morning! And I am 5 months pregnant!!
* Why does the train have to skip Clapham Junction? Was hoping to catch 06.53 Guildford to Clapham. Now on 07.07... [Cheeky response: The train was very delayed and we were not able to cater for the additional stop at Clapham as the impact in the morning peak.] Clapham wasn't an additional stop, it's the one I paid for and got up at 05.45 this morning to catch.
* Furious at no scheduled stop by 19.05 yesterday. Turfed off at Southampton. Proper explanation please! Others furious too.
* So broken train, signal-jumping train & signal problems. Doesn't sound shambolic at all...
* Brilliant! Well done on stopping ours & many families being able to support friends & family at London Marathon Fix it today!
* Thanks for this - a tricky journey to start of London Marathon 2013. Please brief your station staff - getting conflicting messages.
* Why are you doing engineering works on the Day of the London marathon?
* So is this why nobody can get to the marathon today? Brilliant.
* How are those with young families, who have paid in good faith for a service today meant to go to watch the Marathon?
* Brilliant. Now thrown off train number 3 at Hounslow. Where can I claim a refund for this terrible service?... Are you actually sorry though? I left Waterloo over an hour ago and am still not at Syon Lane 4 trains later!
* Whose idea was it to chuck an overcrowded train out at Woking, all trying to get to London?
* What is it these days? Service is delayed two or three times a week? Where does the huge revenue go?
* I'm at Milford. It's been nearly 1 hour since your 1st tweet. If train left Havant now it will be at least 40 minutes to get here?
* Isn't it cheaper for you to run only 4 carriages whilst still cramming in the same number of fare paying passengers?
* That’s twice this week the 18:24 to Dorking has been 4 coaches, any chance of some money back? Happened several times last week too. Makes a mockery of the exorbitant costs of a season ticket. Please sort it out.
* If I fail my Science GCSE I blame you, sort your trains out.
* The entire population of Surrey is currently at New Malden station! What’s happening?
* The exact same thing has happened at Norbiton. They're hopeless at keeping people informed of the slightest change. Several hundred commuters from London to Dorking squeezed like sardines into 4 carriages yet again. Good job. [After response] A fault? So ambiguous. This is the 5th 'fault' on the 18.40 Waterloo-Dorking train in last 10 days. Any plans to fix the fault?
* Why did your 17:40 leave Syon Lane at 17:38 It's not really on is it, you have a timetable for a reason I presume?


* More garbage service from SWT. Buy a 1st season ticket...only standard on the train.
* Forced to buy train ticket twice?... bought via phone from SWT, reference invalid at auto machine on collection. Had to buy again or miss train. No-one will refund.
* Went for a day out on Saturday, return from Bournemouth to Winchester with my sister. Ended up costing £111 because you charged me three times.
* I pre-booked a ticket on line for travel 20-4; got to station, could not collect it..had to buy another ticket...your solution?
* Have received letter from IRCAS claiming unpaid fine for a journey I wasn’t even on or in the area. Please help. [Cheeky response: Independent Revenue Collection and Support, Penalty Fare, Unpaid Fare Notice] I know that, but you can’t call them to speak, only an automated phone number. An appeal form online but nothing to help! Who can I actually speak to? I am concerned re identity fraud. [Response: Please could you write in to us and explain the situation here: customerrelations@swtrains.co.uk The customer service team will then investigate what has happened. You will also need to advise IRCAS of what you have done.] Great but it’s not possible to contact them!
* Disappointed by SWT station staff at Southampton Central. They didn't give my wife the return part of ticket and refused to reprint.

Replacement buses

* Replacement bus has bypassed Stoneleigh, Worcester Park etc, and just going to Wimbledon? Why's this? [Response: Did you get on the fast bus or the stopper?] Man at Ewell West said I could get to Worcester Park on this bus. [Response: Are you able to check with the driver?] Called customer services, spoke to a man called Stewart that says there shouldn't even be a fast bus from Ewell West...so now have to go catch another bus. Thanks for the help. Not. I have to wait till 03:32 for the next bus BACK to Worcester Park. What a joke.
* Outrageous service; after 1.30hrs wait for a replacement bus!! Vauxhall to Epsom. Waited 30 minutes at Vauxhall; at Wimbledon 13.20 were told bus arrives at 13.47, didn't arrive till 14.15.
* Replacement bus service starting at Barnes through to Richmond and Twickenham undermined by absence of a bus!
* Surely SWT have time to get better buses that can accommodate buggies? Especially on big event weekends?
* I had to get a taxi to work! Cost £20! Bus didn't turn up, waited for over an hour but had to get in.
* Ridiculous to tell passengers to get off at Barnes due to signal failure, and no replacement buses. Have so far had to take 3 buses. [Response: Really sorry about that. Are you back OK?] No actually I am not. Now stuck in Chiswick. A 20 minute journey has taken 1.5 hours so far.
* I use a folding cycle to get to Camberley, and from Richmond to work. Replacement bus service means I can’t go.


* Not one member of staff to be found !!
* My god SWT, the rudeness of some of your staff is only matched by their incompetence. For goodness sake... Get some training in place.
* Just watched a man get bottled by drunk football supporters at Woking on platform 2. Sort your staff out.
* Intimidating aggressive Revenue Inspector at Guildford station towards female minor and parent! Terribly rude and belligerent!
* Incompetent jobsworth staff Walton-on-Thames sold wrong ticket then barrier man deliberately refused to let me on train. No apology or courtesy.
* Any reason why there are 4 of your 'revenue' staff standing around pretending to work at Parkstone? Quiet station...kill some time.
* For the second day running I've had a "revenue protection officer" flanked by two coppers check my train ticket. Bit excessive SWT… I'm used to the RP guys being surly and rude when you have a ticket, I was just surprised by the addition of coppers.
* Such disgusting service at Guildford station. Disappointed again.
* Outstanding customer service with SWT this morning; the guard’s customer engagement was superb NOT. Lessons in customer engagement due! Guard on the 10am out of Farnborough to Waterloo was very rude and confrontational regarding seats. We chose to stand, and as a result the guard confronted us and then proceeded to tannoy the whole train pointing out there is no need to stand! Very rude and a poor attempt to publicly humiliate us! Needless to say we were not the ones that let ourselves down!!
* Can you tell me how you justify having 9 station "bouncers" employed on platform at Wimbledon each morning? Rail fares on increase. There is no need for so many, they stand around like statues and I bet are on a fair bit of cash for doing this! Waste.
* Pretty sure to work at SWT, you have to be a rude, unhappy person with no manners. Don't ruin my day!
* Ahhh that explains it. SWT guard just announced this train won't stop at Vauxhall and if you want to travel from there you should, and I quote, "come back to yourself" because we all know what that means? Any chance of plain English speaking guards?
* Rail safety officers doing a brilliant job. Stood in same lobby by the doors for three stops. I'd just be ** off if I were their manager. [Second caller: They always stand in same place! And always disappear when trouble. Waste of money!!]
* Why are there about 30 private security personnel at Twickenham lining the platforms?
* Really don't appreciate your drivers swearing at me for standing on the wrong part of the platform.
* Customer service assistant ignoring collapsed woman in front of him while commuters beg him to help near platform 12 at Waterloo…. I just couldn't believe the 'so what' attitude of the assistant on the gates of platform 12 who was about 15ft away.
* Oh why have your guards restarted this odd behaviour of announcing what tickets are not valid AFTER the train has departed.
* Phoned up SWT to enquire about my delayed train.. Only went and got told to f*** off'.. Nice way to treat paying customers! I pressed the information point at Woolston train station at 9:20 this evening.

Station environment

* You closed Ascot waiting room for months for refurbishment. Previously the gents was always flooded .. as it is again. Well done!
* Why is the big clock at Clapham Junction still running 5 minutes late? Surely this is quite important info for your customers?
* In the dark at New Malden station, dangerous as announcements didn't come through and had speeding train... kids are scared too.
* Ashford ticket office closed during busy time because of broken printer, you should keep a backup there as only one ticket window.
* Bookham ticket office shut yet again! Can you explain?
* Second from right ticket machine at Surbiton has a dodgy card reader - have to press and hold to use. Didn't have time to report.
* Why do SWT announcements at Waterloo always miss the first word?
* It's been a disaster at Norbiton today, ticket machines not working etc.. Just concerned someone will hurt themselves
* Just to let you know your Oyster card readers at your non-gated entrance at Wandsworth Town station aren't working
* I wonder if SWT realise Clandon station is still playing ‘Get ahead of the Olympic Games’ announcements?
* Monday and SWT ticket machines and information screens are all broken, worst timing ever. Understand things like this happen but why, when staff can see the machines not working, couldn't I get a weekly paper travelcard?
* Please could you get the loos in Wokingham opened. We are not in a third world country. There are a few builders on site!

Ticket machines

* The ticket machine at Overton is so slow I suspect there's a man inside writing out the tickets by hand... Others had to board the train without tickets though.
* Your ticket machine at Berrylands won’t take card payments again. How are people meant to pay when ticket office is shut?
* Ticket office closed at Sunbury and one machine that wouldn't work. Your guard’s advice- shrugs shoulders 'don't get on the train'.

Train environment

* I'm on the 9:50 from Waterloo to Reading. Would you mind turning the heaters on too? It's freezing.
* All the class 458s I've ever been on give your eardrums a workout when the doors open. Not a problem on other stock.
* Is there a national carriage shortage? 4 coaches and crammed again between Epsom/Waterloo.
* Can't believe SWT can get away with running a train with no heating when it is minus 2OC outside.
* No heating on 06.16 Rowlands Castle to Waterloo. Can you tell me if it’s working on the one behind? [Response: Sorry about this. Have you tried a different carriage, it could be a local problem.] It’s throughout the whole train according to the guard, who added that it was nearly taken out of service at the depot.
* Put the heating on! It's colder on this train than it is outside!
* The state of both your toilets on the 23:50 from Waterloo to Reading is absolutely disgusting. One toilet out of order, one toilet flooding with urine... And this is how the train left the station. Unbelievable.
* There is a needle/pin sticking out of a seat on this train to Shepperton. Car serial no 77823, I think.
* Why was the 07:27 Surbiton-Waterloo only 8 coaches long today? Nowhere near long enough and you have some very angry commuters.
* It is not a problem specific to just one train - all trains have been blowing out cold air for at least a week. [Response: We are anticipating higher temperature from this weekend, and so changes have been made to accommodate this.] Sounds like an excuse to me! Surely train temperatures should be set according to daily weather, not 'anticipated'
* Been stuck on a train between Vauxhall and Clapham Junction for the past half hour. A woman has just fainted. Please sort this out! … All the windows are open but it's extremely hot. No one wants to ring the emergency alarm because of the delays.



* ‘Since the alliance was introduced passenger satisfaction has increased’... Erm...The only thing that has increased is the ticket price..
* You've been contracted to provide a public service. Doesn't satisfaction matter to you?
* Dreading having to travel on SWT today. I know the journey thanks. Just the other unpleasantries I'm not looking forward to.
* Do they fix these problems with Sellotape or something?? Week in week out!!
* A lot of 'faults' on one of the most expensive public transport systems in the world. Makes me wonder how our fares are spent...
* I would be happy to give any feedback – at the moment I only travel with you because there are no other options, and you 100% abuse this.
* Travelling on one of your services this morning and would like to know how I can put in a complaint.
* Well the train I'm on says South West service. Either way I’ve been completely let down yet again! How can people travel safely?

Customer services

* Don't bother contacting SWT by e-mail regarding refunds. Over one month and still no reply. samestandardsastheirtrainservice.
* Customer Charter means South West Trains tries to respond in 6 weeks. Over a year later and I'm still waiting to hear… a complaint, re unpaid fare notice, sent to your customer service centre as 2 other staff members said it was fine to catch train. Your member of staff also made unfounded allegations and failed to complete the form correctly by not completing his name.
* I sent a complaint e’mail on 8th March, and emailed twice since and have yet to receive any reply or acknowledgement!
* Awful customer service from SWT... Not best pleased!

Disabled people

* Unbelievable. Lady in wheelchair unable to board 8.05 from Kingston to Waterloo. No ramp? She'll have to wait for the 8.18 then?
* Nice way to block the disabled bays.
* Those are my comments, if you care about staff swearing at disabled passengers because they need help, you'll do something about it… in case you actually care, it was platform 8 around 17:00. Swearing and shouting because a disabled passenger actually asked for help.


* What's happened to the 7.06 from Syon Lane? Information board isn't working and there's no answer on the help point.
* This morning you tweeted that issues would be fixed after rush hour to minimise disruption. Clearly not case, poor information!
* How on earth can your notice boards be wrong at 04.30? I was at Guildford - the 04.30 was showing due at 04.53 but arrived at 04.32; no one knew what platform!!! Time for you to work longer!
* Do you seriously have to play the security announcement message so much? Most of it is common sense anyway...
* Why was the 17:03 at Kingston going fast to Waterloo with no announcement!!
* I go to Wimbledon (from Waterloo) and could have taken any of the 5 trains, but you don't inform people of what's happening
* A 30-minute journey and not a peep from the train crew. Spoke to driver at Waterloo who said it's guard's job not his…Delayed 06.15 from St Margaret's to Waterloo. Apparently an announcement was made at Twickenham but no one bothered after that.
* Any chance of an explanation for the delay to the 00:09 from Waterloo? We're all just sitting here.
* If there's any way you can communicate this it would be much better received. A train simply 'disappearing' frustrates.
* 08.36 from Waterloo to Hampton Court. Did it really take you 10 minutes to announce a faulty door then cancel the train?
* Stuck at Staines waiting for 04.58 to Waterloo, no information as usual.
* Shame there is no staff to talk to at Portsmouth Harbour to find out what's going on/times/alternatives!
* If you had told us how bad the problems were I could have caught a slow train. There is no information at Waterloo.
* On train, just left Haslemere for Fratton and no warning at all by guard about massive delays ahead at Havant


* Seven minutes? More like 45 minutes…the Effingham Junction train was made up of 4 coaches (fantastic) so it was full. So had to wait for next Epsom train.
* 06:46 left Totton at 06:45 AGAIN- Timetables are there for a reason and should be stuck to. Going to start taking photos. Train left at 06:45:31 by station clock. STICK TO YOUR TIMETABLES.
* An utter joke this morning, who the hell runs a 4 coach train at peak times? Useless as ever.
* Why was 07:23 out of Twickenham cancelled? Knock on effect on 07:33 is horrendous.
* If I miss my flight because of SWT I am going to be so annoyed. No apology either for being late - appalling service.
* Just given up, wife has driven 50 miles to pick me up, now 50 miles home, hope your CEO & board are worried about their franchise.
* You have less than 15 minutes to avoid a riot and anarchy. You’re paying for taxis we assume.
* Thanks SWT; just left Putney station over a minute early and now I've missed my train, nice one!
* 2135 Guildford-Clapham Junction stayed in Woking for 20 minutes without an update & NOT ABLE TO GET OFF! I pity the phone operator who gets me tomorrow.
* Yep, they've just chucked us all off at Wimbledon, platform packed, then train goes off to London anyway!
* So how exactly am I meant to get home with cancelled trains? Best thing is you've charged me for this service.
* Epsom to Waterloo train delayed by arrest at Motspur Park; SWT make it fast to Waterloo when nearly all want Wimbledon - thanks for extra delay!
* Train is 8 instead of 12 carriages. Who can't count? Misery on SWT. But I don't pay £3,700 for a seat, just for the joy of travelling.
* Even when I'm not travelling on your network your broken trains still ruin my life! I'm going to be stuck here for ages … I was on Southern Trains, and was going from Southampton Central to Victoria, and one of yours was broken outside Fareham.
* Egham train never moved, no cash for taxi, and had folding bike, stuck - have just cycled Egham to Sandhurst in wind/rain/dark.
* Taken 7 train trips to and from Southampton in the past 2 weeks. South West Trains are wringing me out with delayed/poor service.
* We were on your train for 5 hours with no food or water. * Over 2 hours so far to get from Farnham to Waterloo, you lot are a joke. I presume I can get my ticket money back?
* Booked a taxi to try make work on time. What's address to send in for refund on taxi and ticket?
* Delays at Kingston...train just got cancelled. Now every other train delayed and packed I bet. Fancy giving a mass refund?
* Should be ashamed. 09.30 from Basingstoke to Waterloo and no seats available. Shocking. Next time travel with FGW. Far better.
* What you doing about compensation? I'm stuck on the train and going to miss the cinema thanks to SWT!!!
* Why have I been standing at Godalming for over an hour when you are running fast and fast empty trains through the station?
* 16:56 through Winchester has been cancelled with no notice.
* Yet again another delay on SWT ..Your lack of customer care disgusts me! I'll miss my connection & lift! Stranded.
* Can I claim money back for the journey London-Bournemouth? We've been made to move, like a herd, off and back on the platform.
* Can I please ask why the 07.55 from Kingston left 2 minutes early this morning leaving a load of bemused passengers on the platform?
* The 11.47 Salisbury-Waterloo left 50 seconds early. I missed it despite being on the platform.
* Why don't you update destination on front of train? Just missed Epsom train as it said Hampton Court. Can't see board at end of platform 8 at Vauxhall.
* Why does the Twickenham to Reading train leave just before the Kingston train arrives. Pointless. So many people run for it everyday...
* Not impressed, had to get a taxi home which cost me £40 as there were no other arrangements available. It's not acceptable.
* Not happy about the train failing to stop at New Milton yesterday. What's the e’mail address to send full details?
* Please explain why last evening, when trains started running down from Waterloo, no trains stopped at Liphook and Liss until 8pm?
* No compensation for the journeys in May that did not arrive at my destination? I guess I'll have to complain the old fashioned way.
* Oh dear SWT. Late home last night, late again this morning. At least your customers are reliable.
* Just to double check, am I entitled to a refund due to being stuck on a train between Guildford and Woking for over an hour?
* What is going on with the 01.05 from Waterloo? It's taken 50 minutes to get to Weybridge and we had to reverse into the station!


* I require advice upon the very unhelpful ticketing situation just encountered at London Waterloo. Forced to buy expensive ticket! Who can I speak with to discuss ticketing matters and the inability to purchase the correct one at Waterloo?
* Shocked at customer service at Vauxhall. Staff didn't tell I was being charged a £10 'admin' to refund an unused £12 ticket.
* Why did SWT Twitter tell me I could change my ticket at Waterloo ticket office, but the office refused? Conflicting (costly) information. Accidentally bought single rather than return (£1.10 difference!) Went to office, she refused, said I had to go within 1 hour of travel. I ended up having to buy another single. So it cost me £42.40 rather than £22.30!
* Who do I write to for a refund, it's now cost me £22.10 to get home on top of my £13 I paid for your trains earlier?
* Just got checked and charged £17 for being on a different train just to try and get home! [Second caller] That's ridiculous!!! Crap customer service and then they screw you for more cash #boycott @SW_Trains. [Third caller] And they will do nothing. I've written in before and they refer to their ridiculous charter.
* Ridiculous I can't buy a cheap travelcard from SWT before 10 despite having a season ticket covering my journey before 10…It was the ticket office at Egham that told me they weren't allowed to on the day even though it was impossible to use it before 10!
* Put £20 on my oyster in Kingston station this morning. It didn't go on but money has been taken from my account.
* Left weekly pass at home so bought day return but told can't get refund! Why?! This is very unfair and tough when money is tight.
* I was harassed for my personal details and fined £20 through no fault of my own.
* At Richmond bought four returns to Twickenham £10, then staff sent us to shuttle bus. Charged again! How do I get refund for train tickets??
* Another £600 taken from my account for a £300 ticket this month! Cheers...again SWT; complaints and compensation coming your way.

Replacement buses

* Buses at Wokingham great, but WE'RE STUCK @ BRACKNELL ON A STATIONARY TRAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!
* Cheers SWT for stranding me and 5 others at Andover station last night when the rail replacement bus never showed up. Waited 2 hours.
* Told to change at Staines for bus replacement to Sunningdale. Arrive, no bus replacement. Contact me if you want to sue SWT… [Response: buses on all affected routes] Your customer service staff just told us she contacted control who say no buses.
* No taxis and no buses! We are stranded by SWT!!!
* We saw no buses the whole time we where there and after seeing the tweet saying 14:00 got a taxi! Can we reclaim cost?
* Heading to Dorchester. No buses ever turned up but we've been called back into the train now.


* Disgusting attitude by SWT staff towards my mum today, just because your signage is out of date doesn't mean passengers should be fined… she was told to tap her oyster at Wimbledon when changing trains. So she did on the yellow pad as this was on the platform… turns out it tapped her out and she was fined at destination for not having a valid ticket.
* Staff member gets on at Wimbledon effing all over place to remove blue bin. Not pleasant image for your company surely??
* Thank you SWT for your incompetence at Clapham Junction and total lack of customer relations, great job!
* I'd love it if you didn't mug people off. Your staff are VILE. What gives them the right to speak to people like that because they want to buy a ticket on the train?
* What about getting some help to get our baby son home? After asking a dozen drivers, finally found one willing to take us. Station staff very unhelpful and unsympathetic. Seriously guys, where is your contingency for transporting stranded parents with young baby when you cancel train at 9pm? Total chaos on the trains and SWT no help at all.
* Spend close to £4k a year with SWT, the least I'd expect is to not have to speak to rude lost property staff.
* Never been spoken to so rudely in my life by a scrawny man with glasses from SWT from Salisbury! Please sack him for me.
* I'm still out of breath from having to carry the chair up the stairs 20 minutes ago! Didn't even get an apology from the staff.
* At Wimbledon I see guard closing train doors on people. Before passengers get off they whistle madly, no time for full platform.
* A guard just robbed me of £30 and abused me (not sexually). Where can I complain and get my money back?
* Thanks for the hugely unfriendly customer service today. Really enjoyed that. Not. Horrible start to the day.
* I do not appreciate a member of staff purposely blocking my entrance to a train door as it’s about to close at Putney.
* Spectacular display of incompetence at Guildford for the 08.31. Top marks to all involved.
* My explanation fell upon deaf ears and I was threatened with 'police action' for asking why they refused to listen to me.
* Two of your ticket inspectors at Hampton Wick in uniform. She is swearing and being uncouth. Saying people should buy their ** tickets.
* Humiliated, mistreated & bullied by your train inspector In Waterloo, I cried my eyes out all the way home, I had paid my return.
* I would like to make a serious complaint against a member of your staff but she wouldn't give me her name.
* Not even back in the UK for 24 hours and SWT are already making me rage! Staff at Waterloo so unhelpful and defensive - I was given short shrift. I wasn't even trying to be difficult! It was an honest bloody question.
* Some customer care training at Wimbledon wouldn’t go amiss either. Don’t think guy could have been more indifferent if he tried.. Key lessons are: poor information, apparently pointless bureaucracy & failure to make effort to deal with customer impact.
* I've seen him start arguments with passengers, lock off the middle carriage until the last minute, close the doors on passengers.
* Sister slipped over on hazard yesterday at Waterloo, manager who witnessed ignored and walked away, where can I feedback?!

Station environment

* Another day in the life of SWT, no ticket office open this morning at Ewell West = lots of angry commuters! [Second caller: There are 6(!) SWT staff standing chatting by the barriers at Earlsfield - send them to Ewell West).
* Oi! This is a question from a fare paying customer. Why are the toilets at Wokingham still closed and when will they open?
* Upset by lack of tactile on island platforms at Vauxhall station. Very dangerous for visually impaired people, why is there none?...Worry for my best friend who is totally blind and regularly travels from Vauxhall, his local station.
* Just to let you know the big clocks on platforms 1 & 2 at Waterloo are ten minutes fast.
* Why don't you follow the European station examples and only announce about trains? Getting pissed off with hearing about smoking… It’s at Guildford, every day. EVERY SINGLE DAY.
* How am I supposed to swipe out at Earlsfield when all the barriers are red crosses? Honestly !! …No staff at the barriers, they were open but I still needed to swipe out. Went to other platform’s barriers & swiped there instead.
* Is there any chance that the waiting rooms at Ascot will ever be open; it gets windy and cold sitting on the platform.
* Hi, please could you tell me why Addlestone ticket office is closed at 9:15 on a Monday morning?
* Aside from making commuters miserable, is anything actually being done behind the boards at Putney station? Doesn't look like it. Fed of with missing trains because it's impossible to get to platform.
* No signs working at Putney, staff have no information & trains pulling into different platforms than normal means lots of missed trains. [Second caller] Carnage at Putney this morning. Screens down, nothing announced over PA, lots of zombies in hi-viz doing nothing to help.
* The oyster readers at top of the stairs at Brentford aren't registering any cards..
* The lift to platforms 7&8 has been off for a week now! Any updates?
* Please try to understand what I'm saying! Please research Isleworth station. It's nothing to do with technology or train size. A longer train makes no difference!!! The platform is too short and there's not enough time to get on the train due to congestion.
* Why was the footbridge on Wokingham station removed so long before the new one will be in place?.... The alternative is steep, rickety & not suitable for everyone, which is why I hoped you could explain the logic of removing old one now?
* Waterloo gates at platforms 12/13 set to reject all tickets requiring photocards, but no extra staff to check for them! Is this new policy? [Response: No, this will be a one off revenue protection exercise. Sorry for the inconvenience.] Perhaps you should get some revenue staff to assist then! Confusion and conflict a plenty.
* Barnes. All your signs were blank, it was lucky dip with which train. Then waited on the 7.37 to Hounslow for no driver to turn up!
* Comedy from SWT - man outside Staines station with leaflets - How to use Oyster cards and then in a low voice 'not valid at Staines'

Ticket machines

* Where am I able to collect tickets as the ticket machine at St Denys is out or order?
* The ticket machine at Hersham has just stolen my £2! Didn't give me any change!
* Your machine gave me only ONE part. I checked there was nothing else. There was a queue at the desk and my train was coming!
* Ticket machine at Hersham just swiped a £10 note for a £6.70 ticket & gave me no change!
* Someone needs to be sent to fix the platform 2 machine in Hersham, didn't give me my change for the second time.
* Tried two different notes, one wouldn't even go into the machine and other kept getting rejected.

Train environment

* Woman fainted on hot and crowded 2nd carriage of 18.05 from Waterloo. Currently stuck at Richmond.
* Just left Clapham Junction on Effingham Junction train. Sweltering day yet the carriage heating is on. Why? Who controls this?
* Well, well, another faulty train! And the air conditioning isn't working too! Bravo SWT. Maybe time to invest a bit more in maintenance?!
* In light of the fact your trains far exceed reasonable capacity, could you turn the heating off! It's May!!!
* This 22:54 train to Poole STINKS LIKE ****. I don't expect to have a 2 hour 30 minute journey with it smelling like this.. CLEAN IT!!
* 22.40 Winchester to Botley. What the hell is that stink on carriage 2?!!!!!!


Customer services

* I think 50 working days (not counting bank holidays & weekends) is a bit excessive a response time, without any updates!
* Absolute worst "Customer Relations" people I've ever had to deal with. Insisting to me that my tickets printed when they didn't!!
* Any news on my refund for taxi home on March 6th - CS ref number 1737675? Can't believe I've been waiting so long.
* Just wondering if there’s any danger of getting a reply to the complaint I sent by e’mail two weeks ago?
* I have now sent the 3rd e’mail of complaint to SWT. 28 days later and still no reply. The poor customer service is speaking for itself.
* Hi there, I am still waiting for a refund for my gold card ref: MEE960 claimed 7/5/2013. Please help, thanks.
* Your lost property service is laughable. Southampton station says they definitely picked up my jacket, but Waterloo doesn't have it. Lost jacket on 3rd [over a week earlier], Southampton said that it was taken off train at Salisbury and sent on. Went to office just now and not there.
* Put £20 in ticket machine for a £8 ticket, got my ticket but no £12 change was vended. E’mailed a complaint but day 4 no reply.
* I bought a monthly pass just 3 days ago and the magnetic strip is already not working. I have to ask a staff member to let me in every time!


* There was no announcement! I let the slow train go at 26 minutes past as the fast train was due at 9.33 as per announcement. POOR
* What happened to the 9:11 from Ashford to London Waterloo. No announcements, just didn't show???? [Response: It was running 14 minutes late but should have stopped. It shows arriving at 09:25] No it didn't stop.
* So the guard finally tells us the train terminates at Farnham after a ten minute delay & silence. Unacceptably poor performance. Trains are terminating at Farnham. I know. You knew. Why didn't you say sooner & tell the guard, too? Just pathetic.
* Just on the 10:28 to Reading - this overshot the platform at speed at Richmond. No information! Passengers were scared. Please explain. Any reply to this? Or do I have to pass to BTP to look into as the driver could have been unfit to drive etc?
* Complete lack of information as to what's happening at Waterloo. PA system is useless. Can hear nothing.
* We’re sitting outside Waterloo. No-one tells us anything. * A question to SWT: What does 'apologies for the late departure, it's due to the late running of this service' actually mean?
* Got to love the plain English from our guard on SWT to Waterloo. We're held up due to 'an unsolicited application of the brakes'.
* Why is the 08:38 Surbiton - Waterloo train cancelled? The station guards can't tell us anything.
* Any reason you didn't tell the passengers on the 17.33 from Kingston that it was now cancelled and going straight to Waterloo?
* No announcement on train that it’s not stopping at Wimbledon so we all end up in Waterloo. Awful customer service.
* Hey, going to Waterloo (07:32 from Surbiton): the auto-PA thinks we're going south. Every station wrong so far. No word from guard.
* Any reason the 20.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth cancelled? No apparent information at this building with trains in it.
* So you gave me duff information then, train delayed not fixed.


* Another packed train from Waterloo to Hounslow. Again 4 cars instead of 8! Why?
* Why was the 0834 from Motspur Park only formed of 4 coaches. Appalling service.
* Why are you running trains with only 4 carriages at rush hour? Plain stupid!
* Appalling that people are standing like cattle on a 06:30 train into London. Why don't you put out a full length train??
* This deals with delays. My journey was 'terminated', requiring a taxi which was promised but not evident. No staff guidance. ???
* Just arrived, over 10 minutes late. Punctuality this year has been AWFUL & SHAMEFUL.
* How do I claim a refund for the two hour delay between Raynes Park and Waterloo last Saturday? I have a pre-pay Oyster. What the hell SWT, why all the cancellations at Ewell West? More incompetence?
* The train I'm on that was for Christchurch is now cancelled and I have to change trains due to SWT incompetence! Terrible service. [Response: Hi, sorry about that. Your train is running non-stop due to an earlier train fault.] Yes I know that now. No announcements until "you'll have to change!" Appalling service that I've come to expect. I pay £5.5k per year to be treated like cattle... If there was ANY other option I would take it! [Second caller: Couldn't agree more.]
* The 08:13 train LEFT the station at 08.12.22. I'll make a formal complaint.
* Stood for an hour. Not a great experience when I've recently had knee surgery!
* Would you explain the terrible service to Wokingham tonight. 25 minutes late, no apology and expensive. Service!!!
* Absolutely horrific journey home with SWT; I just want my bed.
* Why do SWT only put 4 carriages on 18:45 Waterloo to Hounslow service? Is it an experiment on how crammed a peak time service can be?
* Stuck on a train to Guildford due to trespassers but funny how we've seen three other trains whizz past on same track!
* Every train from Waterloo to Weybridge late leaving this week, any specific reason? [Response: Sorry, there will be a different cause each day. Which train are you on today?]
* I don't get trains very often and YET AGAIN your service is pants and announcements non-existent.
* Sorry but why every time I get on a SWT train it’s delayed due to one thing or another??!! Now going to miss my connecting train!!
* Once again SWT proving this morning that they cannot meet their customers’ basic needs. The train only had 4 carriages so many of your customers couldn't get on it due to overcrowding. This is a recurring problem!
* Just cancelled my Alton train, I see.
* Surprise! SWT cancelled my train today. They're usually late, so doesn't make much difference. Unreliable, dirty, overpriced company.
* You're not sorry or your service would improve. 11:35am Norbiton to Waterloo. I'm late for my 12pm meeting in Earlsfield. Again.
* I seem to spend more time standing than with a seat, yet I still pay the same amount.
* Great. SWT ruins another night out. Why is my train not moving?!
* What are the prospects of the 17:50 from Waterloo actually going anywhere?


* Fareham-Egham. I have these issues every time I travel with you. How you can justify charging so much is beyond me. Not only did I pay almost £30 for a SINGLE, the journey which is literally an hour up the road will take me 4 hours.
* Left return ticket in machine at Epsom. Have out ticket to Guildford and card receipt. Can I get home? [Response: I'm sorry no, you need to have all parts of your ticket with you when you travel.]
* How is it that you can charge £20 for re-printing one paper ticket that costs £250 to buy each month??
* I have a group ticket but have missed the train that my group is on. Can I still use my ticket to get home? [Response: I'm afraid you do need to travel with the rest of the group for the ticket to be valid.]
* Disgraceful fares. Website says £36 to Dorset, get to station it's £49. Daylight robbery. Quicker and cheaper by car. From now on if I have a transport choice it won't be SWT.
* Why is a anytime return Egham-Reading £10 but an anytime return Reading-Egham £18.90? It's the same journey!
* [Response: The retail manual says replacing a faded railcard is free of charge provided the customer can produce the receipt.] Wrong answer. They will charge for a replacement. I repeat my question: As it's not my fault, how can I get a FREE replacement?
* Thank you for letting me pay twice for my ticket! Sort your systems out!

Replacement buses

* There are no buses to Kingston from Twickenham. There are thousands of people here. Do something!
* Find it disgusting that SWT left thousands of people stranded at Twickenham last night and supplied no rail replacements. Bad Service!! Families were walking with me to Richmond, children were crying from walking so far. The information was not clear from your staff. [Response: Your train tickets were valid on all bus routes last night, this was arranged as soon as the incident occurred.] That's not good enough, we were told by the police to take a bus and we walked to Richmond and then I had to pay a hefty cab fare. I'm afraid it's not easy for thousands of people to get on a bus. More than 10 buses drove past the bus stop, your service is bad.
* Is there going to be a bus replacement to Alton? I have been waiting at Aldershot for an hour now.
* The rail replacement bus just left Alton has heating stuck on full. Any chance you could get us some water before we asphyxiate? Our driver says she can't turn the heating off or down without a spanner. Do you have a spanner? It is ferociously hot in here.
* Don’t use replacement buses that drop you off a mile away from where you're meant to be and arrive 45 minutes late!!


* An employee just started shouting at me for littering. May you inform her that it wasn't me and maybe send her on a holiday.
* Today an inspector assaulted me by taking my wallet out hands to get my ID to give me a penalty when I wanted to pay for a ticket.
* How do I lodge a complaint about guard on the 17.35 Waterloo-Weymouth please?
* Why put 4 ticket men on a train if none of them will sell a ticket? [Response: They are undertaking a revenue check, you should have a ticket before you board a train.] Doesn't excuse your staff accusing me of being a liar.
* If lucky enough to get a ticket that works you go through. If not SWT demand you prove ownership of Young Person’s Railcard. Discrimination? If the ticket had worked (which it was supposed to) the machine would have trusted me. Why not your staff? But no, they thought, "There's someone in a hoodie, they must be trying to get a free ride."
* Encountered the rudest, most patronising guard on the 7.20 last night from Waterloo. He needs to address his people skills.
* How do you feel about STM staff screaming in the faces of commuters on platform 11 at Clapham Junction? They are here for our benefit, yeah? [Response: What was happening?] Long haired STM guy screaming in a woman’s face from about 8' away about the yellow line. She sidestepped past him, hence the line. Basically nothing unusual. Believe me when I say these guys are failed bouncers and nothing else. Old Clapham Junction staff were OK. [Response: OK. We do ask customers to stand behind the yellow line but if they are going about it the wrong way you should let our customer relations team know in order for the matter to be fully investigated]. I definitely will not be doing that. I've got a few weeks on your line left. I hope something bad happens and you get sued. I did actually tweet you about the same thing on Platform 9 earlier - this security team you've contracted in are rude.
* Why is an inspector unable to let a customer through an open barrier when shown a valid ticket for travel? [Response: I'm not sure, if the gates were open couldn't you walk through?] You would have thought so. I was made to go back through a closed barrier with my ticket. Am I missing something? New policy? [Response: No new policy. So essentially ticket had to go through gate? Could be to avoid someone else using afterwards?] Think I fell foul of staff member trying to make poor point. Can you feedback to Farnborough station? [Response: Will do, and sorry for that.]
* I have a season ticket return between Chessington South & Waterloo. Wanted to travel to Kingston. Was told ticket would be fine but it wasn't. [Response: You were told this would be fine by staff at Chessington South or Waterloo?] Waterloo. I asked about buying single from Raynes Park to Kingston & she said I didn't need to. [Response: You can write in about this to get more feedback from the station team. I will e’mail our tweets to them.]
* Aldershot station staff are useless - cancel a Guildford train and say bus on way- someone else says "I don't know, not my fault" [Response: The problem has been rectified, did you manage to get on a train?] Yes thanks - I did! Despite station staff telling us the train would be cancelled, it left on time!
* Six staff on London bound platform at Clapham Junction all shouting to board. How many rushed to the aid of woman with buggy? Yep. None
* You've got good staff, but also some awful Waterloo barrier guards - their attitude is bad yet still in jobs - a smile won't hurt.
* What do all the security people do at Clapham Junction. Are SWT paying for them? They don't know where any of stations are. [Response: Hi, we do pay for them. They are employed on busy platforms to ensure passenger safety.] So why did security guard not help lady with buggy on train just now ? Next time you need budget cut..... [Response: Security Guards have a specific role with regards to safety so may not be able to help everyone. Sorry about that.]
* I forgot my wallet and train pass at home and have only just realised. I am on the train... What do I do? Arghh help! [Response: Hi, the only thing you can do is explain your situation to the first staff member you see.] Thankfully the guard was understanding, if only all your staff were so nice...
* Most disgusting homophobic man I've ever encountered working for South West Trains. Horrified.
* It is a disgrace you do not communicate office closures with staff who then call honest people liars. Formal complaint coming. [Response: Hi, sorry about that. Petersfield ticket office was broken into last night and is closed as a result, staff are aware.] Your staff in Portsmouth aren't.. She said she didn't believe me. I want this looking into. Worst customer service ever…. I am e’mailing your customer relations now. I could have kept the money but being honest I didn't and then get called a liar... This female member of staff needs customer service training and doesn't deserve a job when they are so hard to come by.
* The people who answer 023 8072 8022 are certified cowboys. when I said I was recording call they hang up !!!!!!!!!!! [Response: Sorry who were you trying to reach. I don't recognise that number.] Seems to do with fines. They are cowboys. Hung phone up at 3pm. No answer after 9, calls now office closed.
* Can you tell [Name] at Waterloo that politeness and courtesy towards customers is a job requirement? His attitude stinks.
* So you'll pass on praise, but not complaints? Typical.
* Incompetent staff at Wimbledon unable to do changeover, told to return tomorrow regardless of a £20 loss to me. What gives? Typical.
* Someone needs to have a word with the rude, uninformed man guarding the barrier at Guildford. Almost missed my train for his idiocy.
* I'd forgotten just how rude your Southampton staff are! Thanks for ruining my day… saying 'it's not my problem' is unhelpful in any situation.
* Really excelling yourselves tonight. Who would have thought getting to Havant from Portsmouth and Southsea would be so hard! … Got to Havant. It was the misinformation from a disinterested member of staff at Portsmouth & Southsea I took issue with mainly.
* Bit strange your guard who wasn't a guard but some kind of revenue protector couldn't tell us that?
* Very complicated. Two very helpful staff on phone, but can't get hold again, one very rude, different prices by different people....
* Going with my price, but tickets have ranged from £70-ish to over £100! If your staff can't do it, how can passengers?
* How can someone sell you 2 sets of completely wrong tickets? Two returns to places I'm not even going to and only single trips!!!
* I see that SWT reply on social media, but completely IGNORE official complaints & take people to court due to their staff ignorance.
* Missed a hospital appointment because of the useless, inept staff at SWT. Sack the lot of them. Just another case of your company not providing the service you overcharge for in the first place.
* Your staff are disgusting, the ticket machine at Strawberry Hill is broken and the man wouldn't wait while I got a ticket, now I'm late.
* Shocking ineptitude by SWT this morning. 08.59 Basingstoke very delayed but staff physically block people trying to get off when 09.17 rolls in.
* Can SWT please move the 2 women currently at Bracknell ticket office into non-customer roles? Repeatedly unfriendly, unhelpful & rude…. Investigate if you like. I won't waste more time. Forced to buy ticket on train again! Unclear rules = poor inconsistent service.
* Putney station is a mess of incompetent staff who don’t know what is going on, unclear station announcements don't help either. Confused and contradictory information over the PA - train reported full when not...I had already switched platforms. Looks like you have sub-contracted your Passenger Assistance services at the station...don't you check who they let loose??
* Your staff outdid themselves for arrogant contempt of "customers" tonight. I have a right to be furiously angry and want a refund.
* You on the other hand I don't forgive. Got a fine from your employee and still no reply. Bad customer service all round!
* Thank you, staff at Richmond had no idea.
* I’ve just had to do some smartcard training for SWT on the Waterloo gateline.

Station environment

* At Guildford there's a long queue & only one person serving, you always do this! Why am I paying for this crappy service?????
* What about the lift at Vauxhall station being closed at 9pm every day? Please see my previous comments from last week.
* Please fix the lift to platform 5 at Woking before home time, my bike is very heavy to carry up stairs!
* I've been to the Wareham ticket office yesterday and today and found it closed, do you know if it will be open anytime today?
* Bracknell is a very busy station but WCs been closed for years. Any chance we can have these back? * Well done, just saw someone fall over dangerously near platform edge as forced to run as you have blocked half of platform 5/6.
* Any chance of fixing the departure screen at Haslemere?... It's been broken all week!
* Cobham ticket office closed again, One machine can't cope with demand. When will you invest in 2nd machine??
* Cobham office closed, again. One machine can't cope with demand, again. Second machine or relax penalty fare rule!? [Response: Our staff are able to use discretion where there are reduced facilities however in some cases a penalty fare may still be appropriate.]
* Your waiting room at Sunningdale is a disgrace. It hasn’t been cleaned in 2 days now and smells of urine.
* Filthy there too. No station staff. Disgusting. Disgrace.
* The clocks at Waterloo are [1 hour, 4 minutes] wrong at the moment.
* Your Waterloo analogue clocks are accurate and your digital clocks are fast. Wonder how many have missed their trains?
* Just an idea, when St Denys station has a sign up saying 'toilets this way' how about not locking them! [Response: Sorry, the toilets are only unlocked when there are staff at the station…. St Denys is only staffed until 10:45.]
* Cosham 11am today - ticket office closed, one machine flashing. Not good. Thought it’s open until 19.45. [Response: Sorry, staff have other duties to attend to during the day and may have closed the window to allow this.]
* How can Clapham Junction have ALL of its 10 lifts out of order at the same time?
* Toilets closed at Wokingham station AGAIN! Why can't you ever do a proper fix and provide an acceptable service to the fare paying public?... [Response: I've heard back. They are awaiting a plumber to attend a burst pipe which has caused the flooding.] The toilets always seem to be closed waiting for a plumber I hope they fix it properly this time.
* Is it true that lifts at Aldershot will only be operational when the station is staffed? [Response: Yes, as is the case at all our stations, the lifts are only switched on when the station is staffed.] When is it staffed please? NRE says 0530-0115 but ticket hall closes well before 0115. Are there staff around after it closes? Just wondering because sometimes we come home from London at 2200ish with a pushchair and lifts will be a godsend!
* Secure bicycle storage at Fleet station demolished (wasn't on posted plans).
* I don’t think this is best practice for health and safety at Havant station toilets.

Ticket machines

* So you don't have a ticket man at Chessington North and the ticket machine is broken! Yeah good job guys!!
* There is no way to purchase a rail ticket from Bookham at the moment. Ticket vending machine not working, office shut.
* At 06.47 the Bookham ticket office was deserted, no one setting up etc. long queue at ticket vending machine. It's often like that.
* Customers not happy at Shepperton. Can they not just get on the train and pay at other end if your machine is down?
* Ticket machine 2413 at Clapham Junction rejecting all cards - wasn't working last week either!
* Why can’t ticket machines be programmed to allow the purchase of Privilege tickets? [Response: Eligibility for Privilege tickets needs to be proved at point of sale, sorry!] Technically, so does the purchase of a ticket with a railcard yet these can be purchased from machines so what’s the difference? [Response: I'm afraid those are the conditions of Privilege tickets (can only be sold at ticket offices). Sorry.] The same conditions apply to railcards though so why allow those? Other European railways allow staff to do it.
* Is not being able to read ticket machine a valid reason for not having ticket? Oxshott station, right now, scratchy mess.
* Why is the ticket office at Windsor not always manned during the published opening hours? It's frequently closed before 20:20. Needed to extend journey, & excess en route. No ticket issuing machine on platform & not sure if guard would have one. Staff said miss train.
* Thanks very much for short changing me at Guildford station. Those machines really are spot on.
* I think some of the machines had a Monday morning e-Hangover & weren't taking cards. Be great to have e-Tickets for travel.
* Another red letter day for SWT. Four of six archaic ticket machines at Clapham Junction working, queues (and frustration) building...

Train environment

* Onboard the 1828 sweatbox express. Come on SWT, turn on the air conditioning!
* Please can you turn the heating off first thing in the morning. The sardines in the can were baking hot today. Thanks.
* Air conditioning bust on 5:28 Windsor service. We are FRYING! No windows = dangerous.
* Why do you have the heating on?!! It's June and your train carriages are like ovens!!
* Oh of course, it's June and therefore the time for SWT to put the heating on in carriages. * I'm not the best at cleaning but I don't think this SWT table has been cleaned for quite while - ugh!
* What will you do to improve toilets on SWT? Judging by daily commute they only work 50% of the time, the other 50% are filthy.
* On a class 455 from Hampton Wick to Waterloo and loads of the windows won't close... I'm getting wet!
* The 16:51 from Cosham has a blocked toilet and stinks of urine. Please sort this as the smell made me sick.
* Train maintenance is becoming your biggest problem. Profit must come second to operations...
* It honestly doesn't ever look like the trains I catch are ever cleaned. You can tell by all the sticky patches all over floor... Been commuting for about 20 years & have really noticed state of trains go downhill.
* Why is it always in the summer your air conditioning breaks? Surely you should get them serviced before summer hits!
* South West Trains need to get it together! Almost passed out on the sauna of a train!
* Just to say I’m on 15.46 from Waterloo to Chessington South & no litter was cleared and there is some on seats.
* Roasting alive on 07:23 Windsor service because THE HEATING IS ON and there are no windows. Why would they bother to put it on? I've seen other posts regarding heating this morning as well, it just doesn't make sense.
* Why is the heating on in the 07.44 Claygate to Waterloo? I'm going to have to abandon my hard fought seat and stand by the doors.
* 1st class carriage on train from Bournemouth to Waterloo is crap. Seats in 2nd class are in better condition & no space for buggy here.
* Why do none of the windows on your trains open. It's 22 degrees and I'm squashed into a carriage with 200 other people.
* What is going on with our train from Kingston to Waterloo? They won't open the doors at any station and no announcements.

More safety failures on Stagecoach buses

Stagecoach bus fires have become a feature of public transport in recent times. Blazes averaged almost one a month in 2012, excluding arson attacks and overseas fires. See Issue 137 of this newsletter for the locations of 5 incidents in 2009; 9 incidents in 2011; and 11 incidents in 2012. The majority of fires occur when passengers are on board, and there are some horrific internet video clips of the conflagrations.

Stagecoach’s response to every incident is that safety is their absolute priority. However, fires have not been the only problem. Sanctions were imposed after a number of buses shed wheels in Scotland, a bus drove on after wrecking a shelter in Cheltenham, another bus ignored a level crossing barrier on the Taunton-Exeter line seconds before a high speed train passed, and yet another demolished level crossing gates in Canterbury, causing major disruption to South Eastern train services.


1. [Highland News, 05/03/2013]

Bus passengers injured in A9 road accident north of Inverness By Helen Bushnell.

Bus passengers were among those who suffered minor injuries following a four-vehicle road crash on the A9 at Munlochy earlier today. The collision involved a double decker bus carrying 29 adult passengers, a three-axle rigid heavy goods vehicle, and two small saloon cars.

Minor injuries were sustained by some of the bus passengers, who were offered medical attention at the scene. A male driver of one of the vehicles was taken to hospital in Inverness, where he was released after a check-up.

The incident happened at 8.05am on the southbound carriageway of the A9 at the Munlochy junction. This was within the area of road affected by the traffic management measures in operation for the Kessock Bridge repair works.

The A9 southbound carriageway was closed for around 30 minutes, before police opened one lane to allow traffic to flow. The roadway was restricted to one lane for around two and a half hours to allow recovery of the vehicles involved. A Northern Constabulary spokesman said that as a result of the collision, a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”

2. [STV News, 10/03/2013]

“A coach has been destroyed after it was engulfed by fire after an engine blaze spread at Perth Bus Station. Twelve firefighters were called to the scene at Leonard Street in Perth at around 8am on Friday.

Two crews spent almost an hour tackling the blaze which had spread rapidly through the bus. Firefighter Ewan Baird said: "We were called to an engine fire in a bus. When we got there the bus was completely involved in fire from front to rear. Flames had spread through the seating compartment. Two fire appliances from Perth attended. Crew was able to rapidly knock down the flames and the fire was brought under control by 8.30am.”

No one was injured in the blaze. It is understood the fire started after a fuel leak. The blaze caused the station to be closed for around an hour bringing disruption for commuters.”

2. [News and Star, 29/05/2013]

Driver praised after Stagecoach service bus catches fire By Kelly Pattison.

A Stagecoach driver has been praised for his quick actions after a fire broke out under the bonnet of his bus. The driver safely removed passengers from his bus before tackling the battery fire on the bus as it was parked up in Market Place, Egremont.

Fire fighters from Whitehaven and Frizington were called to the scene shortly before noon yesterday. Watch manager Mark Smith said: “The driver did a good job. He got his passengers off the bus and then started to tackle the fire with the onboard extinguisher. Another bus turned up while we were there so the passengers I think were able to get on that one.”

The firefighters used a hose reel to put out the blaze. A Stagecoach statement said: “The driver acted swiftly to ensure the three passengers were moved from the bus before dealing with the incident using the on bus extinguisher. The passengers were transferred onto another service bus. Such incidents as these are rare [!!!] and we are investigating the causes.”

[3. Cambridge News, 06/06/2013]

Guided bus fire forces track closure By Chris Havergal

“An engine fire forced the closure of the guided busway near Longstanton this afternoon. A Stagecoach B service developed an electrical fault as it approached the park and ride site from Oakington at about 2.15pm.

Firefighters were called out and doused the flames, and all the passengers were put onto other buses. Paramedics were also put on standby but were not needed. Nobody was hurt.

The busway was closed and services were diverted while the incident was dealt with. Andy Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach Cambridgeshire, said firefighters had been called to be “on the safe side”.”

In brief

Passenger Focus’ address

This has changed to: RTEH-XAGE-BYKZ, Passenger Focus, PO Box 5594, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 9PZ. The main passenger contact phone number and e’mail address remain the same: 0300 123 2350 / advice@passengerfocus.org.uk

Summer timetable changes

There are few changes in the GB Rail Timetable 19/5/2013 – 07/12/2013. Locally, the more significant changes are:

CROSS COUNTRY - The usual summer Saturday diversion of the 17.45 from Bournemouth, to Leeds instead of Manchester, applies from 25 May to 07 September inclusive. On Saturdays 14/09/2013-19/10/2013 and Sundays 15/09/2013-01/12/2013, trains will call at Reading West instead of Reading.

FIRST GREAT WESTERN - The 16.59 (Mondays-Fridays) / 17.00 (Saturdays) train from Brighton to Bristol is slightly accelerated by omission of the Avoncliff and Freshford stops. SOUTHERN - On Saturdays, the 07:33 Brighton to Southampton runs via Swanwick instead of Eastleigh, and the 08.33 runs via Eastleigh instead of Swanwick.

SOUTH WEST TRAINS - There are several minor service extensions, in some cases achieved by bringing empty stock workings into public service. On Mondays-Fridays the 16.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth & Southsea continues to Portsmouth Harbour; the 18.15 Waterloo-Fratton continues to Portsmouth & Southsea; the 19.15 Waterloo-Havant continues to Southampton Central, calling at Cosham, Portchester and Fareham; and the 19.24 Portsmouth & Southsea-Waterloo starts from Portsmouth Harbour at 19.19. In addition, the 08.56 Salisbury-Romsey departs at 08.50 and runs earlier as far as Southampton Central, and the 11.39 Waterloo-Poole calls at Beaulieu Road. On Saturdays, the 06.10 Wareham-Waterloo starts from Weymouth at 05.42, calling at Dorchester South and Wool.

The history of service development at Southampton Central, posted on our website, exemplifies how static train services have become in recent years.

High rate of lift failures at SWT stations continues

Lift failures (in some cases prolonged and/or repeated), a major problem for disabled people, have recently occurred at Basingstoke, Brentford, Clapham Junction, Earlsfield, Eastleigh, Fareham, Farnborough, Feltham, Fratton, Haslemere, Havant, Portsmouth & Southsea, Richmond, Southampton Airport Parkway, Southampton Central, Staines, Surbiton, Vauxhall, Waterloo, West Byfleet, Weybridge, Wimbledon and Woking.

High rate of ticket machine failures on SWT

Ticket vending machines are becoming as unreliable as ticket office opening hours on SWT. For example, at 15.44 on 05/06/2013, their website was advertising failures at 16 stations spread across the network from Vauxhall to Lymington Town and Tisbury. At Brockenhurst, the customer information system was also out of order, and there were no manual announcements.

Programmed failure?

The short Brockenhurst-Lymington branch line has a 30-minute service frequency provided by a single train. Interesting that, at 20.36 on 15/4/2013, SWT’s website showed that the train would fail after a further three return workings: “22:18 Brockenhurst to Lymington Pier due 22:29. This train will be cancelled. This is due to a train fault. Message Received :15/04/2013 20:36”

Commuter trains deliberately shortened

On 21/6/2013, SWT’s website announced that the 16.12 Waterloo-Basingstoke and 17.54 Basingstoke-Waterloo would be reduced to 4 coaches, and the 18.23 Waterloo-Basingstoke to 8 coaches ‘due to an unusually large passenger flow’. Twitter revealed that this actually meant coaches being transferred to the lucrative Royal Ascot market.

SWT withholds timetables from tourist outlets

SWT is refusing to supply its timetables in bulk to anywhere except railway stations. Wareham Tourist Information and Crewkerne Museum are among places affected. Presumably not enough have been produced.

First Great Western looks after Glastonbury festival goers

FGW ran over 50 extra services for the Glastonbury festival, including from London, and in some cases using Inter City 125 trains. It was all done in a very matter-of-fact way. What a difference from all the verbal diarrhoea from SWT when they ran a single football service from Portsmouth to Bournemouth on 9/2/2013! [see previous issue of this newsletter]

Praise for our efforts from RAIL columnist Barry Doe

Thanks to Network Rail and First Great Western for incorporating all our suggested changes to Table 123 of the new GB timetable, and thanks to Barry Doe for describing these changes as a ‘major improvement’.

Crossrail bidders shortlisted

The shortlisted bidders for the Crossrail concession are Arriva, Keolis/Go-Ahead, MTR and National Express.

Road pollution

London has the highest levels of nitro-dioxide (NO2) of any European capital city. Fifteen other British cities and regions, including Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow, are heavily polluted by traffic and, according to the government, will not meet the requirements for lowering emissions for at least seven years. Last month the Supreme Court ruled that Britain was in breach of EU law on NO2 emissions from exhausts. Parliament’s environmental audit committee estimates that outdoor air pollution causes 29,000 deaths a year in the UK, compared with fewer than 2,000 a year caused by road traffic accidents. (Guardian 24/6/2013)

More cuts on Southampton bus services

The city’s bus services are remarkably run by Bluestar, Unilink, Salisbury Reds [all Go-Ahead companies], Brijan, First, Velvet, Wheelers, Xelabus and Stagecoach. First’s city services have seen successive reductions in recent times. The latest cuts are in all probability the indirect effect of the financial blow the company sustained after the Virgin/Stagecoach partnership successfully challenged its West Coast franchise award.

In some areas of the city buses are non-existent in the evenings, on Sundays, and even on Saturdays. The “Southampton Bus Update” website is now referring to journeys switching from “bus” to “bus and walk”. Yet, with so many operators, there are major service overlaps as well as bus deserts, leading for example to some 18 competing buses an hour on the main route around Millbrook.

Stagecoach chairman a champion of egalitarianism?

Asked what his priorities would be if he were transport minister in an independent Scotland, Stagecoach chairman Brian Souter said he would slash income tax to take the poorest people out of tax completely, and introduce road tolls. He considered that, "It would be very egalitarian because often the people using public transport are those who are have the least spare cash.” [Source: Herald 13/6/2013].

The Herald of 20/6/2013 exemplified Mr Souter’s egalitarian society: “Sir Brian Souter's investment vehicle is thought to have made tens of millions of pounds after luxury yacht maker Sunseeker International was sold to Dalian Wanda Group in a deal worth £320 million”.

Could it be that ‘egalitarianism’ means giving people incentives to use his buses and swell his profits even more?

Putting verbal diarrhoea before fact on SWT

One activity in which Stagecoach never fails, is its famous PR excesses. These are well illustrated in the following news release – note our italics.

Pity that the following blurb is itself unreliable, because the class 458s are officially the most reliable train fleet, and the class 455s normally run to Hounslow or Reading only when substituting for failed rolling stock.


* Further improvements to country's most reliable train fleet
* 91 Class 455 trains to be fitted with modern traction equipment to help reliability
* Lighter trains will require less maintenance and reduce wear on rail infrastructure
* Regenerative braking will return up to 20% of energy for use by other trains

Passengers using South West Trains are to benefit from a newly-launched £40 million upgrade of its Class 455 train fleet, which is already the most reliable in the UK.

The upgrade will deliver even greater reliability for services which operate on the Metro area from London Waterloo to Reading, the Hounslow loop and the Shepperton branch.

The 91 Class 455 trains, which are already the most reliable trains in the country, will be fitted with new traction equipment which promises to enhance performance and improve reliability even further.

The programme – which will be rolled out over the next three years – involves removing the existing DC traction equipment, including the motors, and replacing it with an even more reliable modern AC traction system.

Christian Roth, Engineering Director for the South West Trains – Network Rail Alliance, said: “Our Class 455 trains are already by far the most reliable fleet in the country, however we are not complacent and we want to make sure these excellent results are sustained and improved even further.

“The new traction motors will help us to improve the reliability of these trains for our passengers at the same time as delivering environmental benefits through the reduced electricity supply.”

The prototype train will be fitted at Wimbledon depot with the remainder of the fleet fitted at Eastleigh depot. The project should be finished by Spring 2014.

The investment is being delivered in partnership with the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, Porterbrook and the Department for Transport.”

Acknowledgements / Contact details

As always, thanks to everyone who has been kind enough to contact us. Without your support and input, this newsletter would not be possible. The newsletter is produced in good faith, based on reports and information from many individuals and sources including information identified from press and website research. Contributions are always welcome. We aim for accuracy at all times, because our good reputation depends on it. We do not use material which could be offensive or which appears unlikely to be correct.

Address for correspondence: Denis Fryer, 19 Fontwell Close, Calmore, Southampton, SO40 2TN (denis@fryer1491.fsnet.co.uk).

Contents of website [www.shrug info]

Our quarterly newsletters from December 2002 are on our website. These include Part 2 of recent issues, which provide daily reports of SWT’s appalling performance as it is increasingly run for operational convenience. There is also a mission statement with a history of our activities. Some principal items:

Memorandum 12 in Volume II of the former House of Commons Transport, Local Government and the Regions Committee’s report “Passenger Rail Franchising and the Future of Railway Infrastructure”. [Hogrider No. 91]

Contribution to the Labour Government’s ‘Big Conversation’. [Discrete document]

Memorandum 1 in the Transport Committee's report "Passenger Rail Franchising". [Hogrider No.110]

Response to the Department for Transport’s consultation on Penalty Fares. [Hogrider No.126, Part 1]

Response to the Department for Transport’s informal consultation on the Future of Rail Franchising. [Hogrider No.127, Part 2]

Response to the Department for Transport’s formal consultation on the Future of Rail Franchising. [Discrete document] Response to the Department for Transport’s consultation on Replacement of the Great Western franchise. [See Hogrider No.134, Part 1]

Response to the Department for Transport’s consultation on Fares and Ticketing [Hogrider No.135, Part 1] Response to the Department for Transport’s consultation on De-Centralisation. [Hogrider 135, Part 1]

Response to the Department for Transport’s consultation on the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise. [Hogrider No.136, Part 1]

Submission to Richard Brown’s Review of Franchising. This was framed around our History of South West Trains because of time constraints. [See the third edition of the History]

Contact details of some government and transport bodies and the media are also provided.