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

Part 2 on www.shrug.info has substantial snapshots of SWT’s performance failures.

Also see our website for an evidence-based history of SWT.


The high costs of wrongful prosecutions by SWT

Proposed Southampton-Hythe rail service

Misleading views of Prime Minister’s former speech writer

Optimistic claim for HS2-related benefits

How many ways does Stagecoach need to be told that its operation of SWT has been a disaster for passengers?

Summertime: SWT’s poor rolling stock and performance-enhancing measures create ‘utter torture’.

Ticket vending problems on SWT

Matters of convenience

What people really think of SWT: Letters

What people really think of SWT: Webchat event - 5/9/2013

What passengers really think of SWT – E’mails

What passengers really think of SWT: Twitter

Stagecoach resists quality contracts for buses

More serious safety failures on Stagecoach buses

In brief

Acknowledgements / Contact details

The high costs of wrongful prosecutions by SWT

E’mail received by SHRUG’s co-ordinator:

“Just a short e-mail to say thank you so much for your assistance and guidance back in August.  Based on your feedback, we did make a decision for my son to plead not guilty, as he was being prosecuted for trying to evade payment. The court hearing was yesterday and he was found not guilty. 

We took the decision to appoint a solicitor and although expensive, it was absolutely the right thing to do.  I don't know what it cost SWT, they had two representatives in court, plus the enforcement officer.  Unfortunately, as passengers, we'll all end up paying for their incompetence. Once again thank you.”

[See ‘A History of SWT’ on www.shrug.info for examples of outrageous Stagecoach prosecutions.]

Proposed Southampton-Hythe rail service

Andrew Wilson, HCC Strategy Manager gave a presentation at the New Forest Passenger Transport Forum in July. The study was reaching its final stages, with the project looking to produce about the required cost-benefit ratio.

Various service patterns had been considered, but scheduling issues beyond Southampton meant that an hourly all-stations local service between Hythe, Totton and Southampton was the chosen option. With the current line speed of 30mph, this would require two trains. With an increase to 45mph, a 23.5 minute journey time with one train would be possible.

It will be interesting to see the outcome. There should be ample demand. Passenger growth at Totton was meteoric until SWT killed it with a big timetable downgrade [See issue 139 of this newsletter]. Totton and Hythe together have some 55,000 residents. Totton alone is the fourth largest intermediate town on the line between Southampton and Weymouth, and much bigger than any town or city in Cornwall.

Ideally a Hythe service should have reasonable Bournemouth connections at Totton, but there is now a direct off-peak service between Totton and Bournemouth only on Sundays. However, on weekdays, a half-hourly service between Southampton and Totton should be possible with the Poole stopping service amended to leave Southampton around the hour (and accelerated by 25 minutes as the need to sit at Brockenhurst is then removed) and the Hythe service leaving around the half hour (after an approximately 7-minute turnaround). This would also provide reasonable connections at Redbridge between Hythe/Totton and Romsey/Salisbury services.

Misleading views of Prime Minister’s former speech writer

Ian Birrell, the PM’s former speechwriter, wrote in the Guardian of 15.8.2013 that “Union conservatism strikes a chord with the British public, long sceptical over the supposed benefits of rail privatisation. Many regular train users see it as little more than a modern-day train robbery, with fat cat bosses cramming passengers into carriages and creaming off vast profits from creaking services. Surveys show two- thirds of voters would happily see the railways renationalised, an idea being considered by Labour. As so often, conventional wisdom is wrong.”

Perhaps he should have waited a few days before putting his opinions into print. The Sunday Times of 18.8.2013 reported that Stagecoach’s SWT had in effect become a test ground for cramming passengers worse than animals. The space allowance for standing passengers on its commuter trains has been reduced, apparently with DfT approval, from 0.45 square metres to 0.25 square metres. Never mind that people are getting bigger, or that the EU standard for carriage of a sheep is 0.4 square metres.

It’s little wonder, therefore, that SWT needs its reportedly abusive ‘bouncers’ at stations like Wimbledon, or that it has been replaced by Great Western (which apparently continues with the old space standard) as the operator running Britain’s most overcrowded trains. It’s similarly little wonder that SWT’s passengers resent paying 1% every year (with compound interest) above inflation for a 44% reduction in space on already crowded trains.

Mr Birrell should also have noted the Herald City Editor’s report of 13.7.2013:

Golden payday for Stagecoach chairman

Sir George Mathewson was waved off with a £113,000 golden goodbye when the former Royal Bank of Scotland chief stepped down from his part-time position as chairman of rail and bus group Stagecoach in April.

SIR George Mathewson was waved off with a £113,000 golden goodbye when the former Royal Bank of Scotland chief stepped down from his part-time position as chairman of rail and bus group Stagecoach in April.

While Sir George's package for the year to the end of April totalled £283,000, Sir Brian Souter's last pay packet as chief executive amounted to £1.2 million, including a £382,000 cash bonus, as the co-founder of the Perth-based transport group stepped up to replace Sir George.

Sir George, who had enjoyed a near doubling in his fee at Stagecoach from £84,000 in 2011 to £165,000 in 2012, got another boost after Stagecoach handed him a one-off payment of £113,333 on his retirement from office. Sir Brian received a 37.2% pay rise for the year as his £599,000 basic salary was topped up £200,000 in lieu of a pension contribution and £22,000 of benefits in kind… Stagecoach posted an 8.1% rise in underlying profits to £218.9m for the year to the end of April.”

Among the replies [Guardian, 16/8/2013] to Mr Birrell’s article, Haydn Watkins from Hampshire points to a recent academic study showing that long-distance rail travel costs 0.49p per km in the UK, compared with 0.28p in Germany, 0.22p in Italy and 0.15p in France. Christian Wolmar points out that while Mr Birrell enjoys getting from London to Liverpool 37 minutes quicker than in the past, this follows a £9bn infrastructure upgrade, and £2bn subsidy to the Virgin-Stagecoach partnership over the past 15 years, all at the expense of taxpayers. Meanwhile, Railway Eye reports a poll establishing that just 21% of respondents wanted the East Coast route privatised again, while 58% wanted it retained in the public sector. The Government has turned deaf ears.

Intriguingly, Mr Birrell’s article comes when the Secretary of State’s public stance is that passengers’ opinions should be taken into account when franchises come up for renewal. That would give SWT’s passengers more cause for optimism if DfT wasn’t currently engaged in extending the Stagecoach franchise from 2017 to 2019, apparently without any prospect of meaningful public consultation.

Meanwhile, former shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle believes that London’s commuter services should be devolved, and run by a not-for-profit organisation such as Directly Operated Railways [Evening Standard, 11/07/2013]. Encouragingly, Ed Miliband is also focused on greed-driven, anti-passenger, train operators.

We must hope that recognition of the need for change persists. Remember John Prescott’s policy, over a decade ago, that passengers should play a decisive role in choosing franchise operators? Hopefully there is now more cause for optimism. The growing recognition that some rail franchises, like SWT, treat passengers disgracefully may well be an issue in the 2015 general election, with politicians feeling the need to firm up their promises given the prospect of a close contest.


>From SWT’s Passengers Panel (aka Sir Alan Greengross) in January this year, fighting as robustly as ever in passengers’ interests: “And, incidentally, whilst we are talking about standing room, has anyone considered how a nation that is getting fatter and fatter actually reduce [sic] overall capacity just by being there. In other words, what used to be ‘standing room for 20 people’ can probably now only accommodate 16 or 17. I wonder whether this is being taken into account when ‘overcrowding’ in [sic] computed.”

Optimistic claim for HS2-related benefits

Here’s another odd press article. The Southern Daily Echo reports a claim by ‘experts’ that HS2 could free up paths for new services from Southampton. Trains to Manchester via Winchester, Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes and Stoke would be a possibility, along with ‘extra stops’ at Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby or Leicester on services to the North East.

Some local MPs are sceptical about HS2. It’s doubtful whether it could do much for South Hampshire. There are already daily hourly services between Bournemouth and Manchester via Southampton, Winchester, Oxford and Stoke. There are also several services, Sundays excepted, between Southampton/Winchester and the North East via Derby and Sheffield. The current Manchester services serve Coventry, Birmingham New Street (Britain’s principal interchange for long-distance services) and Wolverhampton. Would it really be better to serve Milton Keynes instead?

The real problem, though, is likely to be not on the West Coast line, where HS2 should indeed free some capacity, but through Reading West station. Current thinking means the line between Basingstoke and Reading could soon see, in both directions, four container trains, two Basingstoke local services, a West of England service, and at least two Newbury electrics, as well as the existing Manchester and North East trains. That’s a train about every six minutes, with differing speeds and routes. It seems unsurprising that DfT is already against maintaining a diesel service through Reading West to maintain a direct link between Hungerford, Bedwyn and Paddington.

So what’s the most obvious option for improving passenger train services between Hampshire and the North? How about longer trains, instead of the pint-pot 4-car and 5-car Voyagers which Cross Country inherited from the Virgin-Stagecoach partnership? Something like an hourly 10-car service from Bournemouth, splitting at Birmingham into portions to Glasgow via Manchester, and Edinburgh via Leeds, perhaps? The Voyagers could then fill the gap left when proposals for new 4-car trains on the overcrowded Portsmouth-Cardiff route were aborted.

How many ways does Stagecoach need to be told that its operation of SWT has been a disaster for passengers?

When Stagecoach grabbed a third franchise term on SWT by outbidding its rivals by more than half a billion pounds, it probably thought it could continue stripping assets and profiteering ad infinitum. It is unlikely to have foreseen the forthcoming outburst of public revulsion at the culture of excessive high-level rewards, or the huge investment in many other parts of the rail network.

Since the award, SWT has underpinned its pariah status. There is little prospect of meaningful change given Brian Souter’s view that ‘ethics are not irrelevant but some are incompatible with what we have to do because capitalism is based on greed’.

How many ways does SWT need to be told of its failures? The same complaints arise on SWT month after month, year after year. At times the reported treatment of passengers borders on obscenity. It’s probably not unfair to say SWT is perceived by many of its regular passengers as rotten to the core. It knows from Passenger Focus surveys that it is very poorly rated, especially in terms of value for money. Its own Webchat events and Twitter, which recently embraced a ‘tweet the managers’ session, similarly confirm serious and widespread dissatisfaction.

Research by Brandwatch has found that First Great Western and SWT Twitter facilities have the joint-highest rate (36%) of negative tweets among commuter train operators. But remember that FGW has virtually no operational electrification, and is undergoing a massive upheaval following years of under-investment. Remember also that positive tweets are often just thanking the respondent for providing information.

Yet, despite the huge body of evidence which could reasonably leave someone wondering why on earth the SWT franchise isn’t transferred to a better operator, 6/8/2013 saw its first ‘Passenger Forum’ at Waterloo, thoughtfully held at the height of the holiday season when many commuters were away. It had a PR advantage over the Webchat events in that it produced no damning transcript. The following comparison suggests that the forum was little more than a PR exercise:

From the official report of the forum:

“Over a thousand passengers were given the opportunity to talk face to face to managers at London’s busiest train station this week, as the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance launched its first ever Passenger Forum. The new-style forum, which will take place twice a year at Waterloo station, provides a chance for passengers to raise any issues or ask any burning questions of a range of managers from across the business. 

From SWT’s Twitter records:

Caller: “Why are some staff unapproachable, and only interested in talking to each other? Including Managers at today’s Passenger Forum…. No reply to this question for #TTMSWT I see... Please could I have a response on this serious issue? @SW_Trains please could you respond to this, as it is an important consumer issue.”

Response: “We had several customers talking to managers at the Passenger Forum. The next one is on December 10. Stop by and say hello.”

So the Passenger Forum appears to be no more than a further opportunity for Stagecoach to delude itself. In this, it is on par with its Passengers Panel, which purportedly exists for passengers’ voices to be heard, but is tightly manipulated by Stagecoach and dedicates itself to teasing out crumbs of approval from generally negative perceptions.

In similar vein are SWT’s Update leaflets. It’s good to know, for example, that station stops at Earlsfield have been accelerated by 7 seconds. Compare this with passengers losing their trains because doors are regularly closed 30 seconds, and often up to several minutes, early. Never let fact get in the way of a good story.


The combined body of passenger feedback inevitably suggests that Stagecoach’s excessive bid (£600m more than any of its rivals) to retain its cash cow franchise, with passengers paying the price, has been an almighty failure. It’s bad for SWT’s passengers, particularly for its thousands of commuters; bad for staff morale – the numbers of complaints about abusive or indifferent staff are remarkable; and bad for the image of rail travel.

Summertime: SWT’s poor rolling stock and performance-enhancing measures create ‘utter torture’

Remember the days when warm weather meant emergency ventilation from open train windows, and complimentary bottles of free water on trains? The summer brought many complaints on Twitter about unbearable temperatures on SWT trains.

Given the severely reduced space standards and non-air conditioned stock on the suburban services, that’s unsurprising. Some trains were so badly maintained that they operated with their heaters on. SWT’s more modern Desiros also caused problems, as their bargain-basement design lacks provision for emergency ventilation when the air conditioning fails. As for the diesel trains, J Sainsbury wrote in the Evening Standard of 2.8.2013: “The 17.50 Waterloo to Exeter [line] train yesterday had six coaches, every single one with failed air-con. SWT is a disgrace and treats its customers with contempt”.

Twitter records on Sunday 7 July showed some people unable to cram aboard pint-pot SWT trains heading for the coast, while others were suffering the severe effects of air-conditioning failures. There was helpful advice on SWT’s Journeycheck facility: “We expect temperature levels to rise significantly this weekend. Here are a few tips for keeping comfortable in hot weather: Carry water with you. Don’t board a train service if you feel unwell. If you feel unwell please get off at the next stop and seek help from our staff. Avoid pulling the passenger alarm between stations, as help can be more easily obtained with the train is in a platform and not standing stationary on a railway line.

Someone apparently then remembered that station staff are increasingly rare on SWT, and their home page carried the significantly amended advice, “If you feel unwell please get off at the next stop and seek help from our staff or use the help point to contact us.” [Our underlining] However, even if station help points are operational, which often they aren’t, what sense would it make to leave a train at some of SWT’s more remote stations, such as Beaulieu Road, when feeling ill? Would sitting alone with sunstroke or dehydration in a small shelter really be such a good idea? It seems reasonable to assume that the real message was: “If you’re ill, you’re on your own; don’t delay our trains.”

On Monday 8 July, SWT announced that owing to an afternoon ‘hot weather’ speed restriction between Clapham Junction and Waterloo, they would run a reduced service to maintain punctuality. Shepperton services did not run between Waterloo and Kingston. Stopping services from Alton and Basingstoke did not call at Clapham Junction, and only 6 trains an hour in each direction called at Vauxhall. Passengers could travel on buses or the Underground where available, and those travelling into London on trains which lost their Vauxhall stop could travel to Waterloo and then back to Vauxhall. In the event, many other services were also cut or curtailed.

Presumably Stagecoach thought they could get away with improving their performance statistics by making their passengers’ journeys even more crowded, longer and more difficult in uncomfortably hot weather. Unfortunately, the Evening Standard of the same day highlighted that the situation was unique to SWT. Other companies acted professionally and maintained something very close to a normal service, and they didn’t have the advantage of a ‘Deep Alliance’ with Network Rail. Perhaps it should be called the Deep Conspiracy?

Related Tweets * Where are all the trains at Waterloo and why no announcements?
* Well done SWT; there we are waiting for the Basingstoke train and it drives through without stopping. Even your staff didn't know until it went through. [Response: It was supposed to stop. Apologies. Where are you travelling to?] Nowhere thanks to your awful communication. Why did no trains stop for 45 minutes? [Response: We have had to make alterations to some services due to heat-related speed restrictions.] Yes. I know. So why did four surviving services go through fast? Staff were not told, passengers stranded 45 minutes. Awful conditions....
* On train to Wimbledon at last. Why did no promised trains stop? Am boiled and exhausted from ages at Vauxhall...
* Please answer why I had to be pushed around Vauxhall by kind staff who were being fed false information? Really awful communication.
* What a joke. Rails too hot so loads of delays. What a fantastic service once again for a ridiculous price.
* It is a truly rubbish service.
* What about the extreme heat right now, I mean it’s hitting 20!!
* I have missed my connecting train and have to pay for a taxi! Ticket refund?
* Can I claim for the extra one hour it took me to get home tonight? Or only if I didn't travel?
* Why were other London Overground services not affected? An excuse, not a reason.
* Any idea of the next train to Leatherhead from Waterloo please on this Sahara-like evening? To the nearest hour. Thanks.
* [Posted a week later] Will we have the hot weather go slow and cancellations tomorrow like last Monday. It was utter torture from Vauxhall.

The hot weather conditions continued for some days, but the performance-enhancing timetable alterations were dropped, apart from six trains a day from Exeter which lost their Clapham Junction stops. However, many individual late-running services had stops axed, in some cases without people on board being told, so that they were carried past their destination in true SWT fashion.

The afternoon of 15 July then brought a broken rail at Waterloo and signalling problems south of Guildford. SWT abandoned its timetable, creating appalling conditions for home-going commuters, both on the concourse at Waterloo and on any trains which actually ran. Some 40 departures from Waterloo were cancelled in the period from 16.00 to 19.00 alone, and this on a railway with extraordinarily poor space allowances for standing passengers.

Services to Dorking and Chessington were suspended. Hampton Court services ran as a shuttle from Surbiton; Alton services ran as a shuttle from Woking; and Exeter/Salisbury/Yeovil services ran as a shuttle from Basingstoke. Most other trains were up to around 90 minutes late and had stops axed. There were large numbers of tweets because poor information and apparently ad hoc decisions meant a mass of passengers not knowing what services would run. Compensation was restricted to half a day for season ticket holders on the worst-affected routes.

At least the Alliance is resulting in more detailed explanations of the failure of the infrastructure, including excuses about its age. Early in August it was announced that four evening trains from Waterloo to Basingstoke would lose their Surbiton stops all week owing to the delay in replacing defective points; passengers would have to travel through to Esher and then catch a train back to Surbiton. This introduced the new euphemism, ‘reduced infrastructure availability’. As an example of how little effort goes into running the scheduled service, at 13.26 on 1/7/2013, SWT’s Journeycheck announced that the 20.23 Waterloo-Alton and 22.15 Alton-Waterloo would not run between Farnham and Alton, explaining that ‘This is due to a train late from the depot earlier’.

To put SWT’s operations into perspective, it needs to be remembered that Stagecoach was selected for a 20-year franchise in 2001, which it lost through its appalling performance. A principal commitment of that franchise was to be the ‘gold-plating’ of track in the London area to provide more-robust services. As it is, SWT’s compounded failures just carry on creating misery for commuters paying some of the highest fares in Europe.

The Late Summer Bank Holiday was followed by a massive whammy for SWT commuters, with the Aldershot-Farnham line closed on Tuesday; Aldershot-Ascot line closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Farnham-Alton line closed all week, leaving Alton and Bentley stations with no train service. This was for ‘additional testing’ of new signals. So much for the purported benefits of the SWT/Network Rail ‘Deep Alliance’.

During the disruption, SWT trumpeted: “We have a number of agreed milestones in place with our project team which will be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure we can provide you with the latest up to date information”. Outcome: the replacement buses were slow and unreliable; many stations had no information system; and Twitter was overloaded with complaints.

The need for such prolonged testing of the signals suggests there are major problems. On Monday 9 September, Alton and Bentley commuters had no train service because of a signalling failure. Seriously overrunning engineering work was routine by the end of the month.

Ticket vending problems on SWT

Ticket office staffing failures at over 50 SWT stations during July-September

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 Alton, Andover, Ashford, Bagshot, Basingstoke, Brentford, Brockenhurst, Chandlers Ford, Chertsey, Christchurch, Cobham & Stoke d’Abernon, Datchet, Dorchester, Earley, Eastleigh, Egham, Esher, Farnborough, Fleet, Godalming, Haslemere, Havant, Hersham, Hook, Hounslow, Milford, Mortlake, New Milton, Petersfield, Poole, Portsmouth & Southsea, Richmond, Salisbury, Shepperton, Sherborne, Southampton Airport, Sunningdale, Swanwick, Templecombe, Tisbury, Virginia Water, Walton-on-Thames, Wareham, West Byfleet, Weybridge, Weymouth, Wimbledon, Windsor & Eton, Winnersh Triangle, Witley, Wool, Woolston and Yeovil Junction. It is clear from Twitter, and from reports that we receive, that the real position is even worse.

Ticket machine failures at over 70 SWT stations during July-September

Ticket vending machines are becoming as unreliable as ticket office opening hours on SWT. They have recently been out of action at Addlestone, Andover, Ascot, Ashford, Ashurst, Barnes Bridge, Bedhampton, Bentley, Botley, Byfleet & New Haw, Chandlers Ford, Chertsey, Chessington North, Chessington South, Chiswick, Christchurch, Clandon, Clapham Junction, Cobham & Stoke d’Abernon, Crewkerne, Datchet, Earley, Eastleigh, Effingham Junction, Feniton, Fleet, Frimley, Fulwell, Godalming, Grateley, Hampton, Hampton Court, Hampton Wick, Hamworthy, Hilsea, Hinchley Wood, Kempton Park, Lymington Town, Lymington Pier, Micheldever, Netley, North Sheen, Overton, Petersfield, Pinhoe, Portchester, Rowlands Castle, St Denys, Shawford, Shepperton, Sherborne, Staines, Sunnymeads, Swanwick, Templecombe, Thames Ditton, Tisbury, Tolworth, Totton, Upper Halliford, Upwey, Virginia Water, Wanborough, West Byfleet, Weybridge, Whimple, Winchfield, Windsor & Eton, Winnersh, Winnersh Triangle, Wokingham, Wool, Woolston, Wraysbury and Yeovil Junction. In addition, Redbridge, Millbrook and Beaulieu Road suffered ‘permit to travel’ machine failures.

Matters of convenience

(1) Last year the toilets at Southampton Central were refurbished after long-term neglect during which they had become seriously grubby and unhygienic. Stagecoach then installed turnstile boxes in preparation for coin operation. The Southern Daily Echo published our comment that operators such as First Great Western, at Gloucester Central, haven’t introduced charges after refurbishment. It was noted in September that the turnstile boxes at Southampton Central had been removed, and entry remained free.

(2) From SWT’s website: “The toilet facilities are out of order at Clapham Junction, facilities are available at London Waterloo and other local stations in the area. Some train services through Clapham Junction do have these facilities available. We will advise once these facilities have been repaired and re-opened for public use.”

(3) SWT may have set itself a new record on Sunday 29 September, when the 08.54 Waterloo-Weymouth (via Havant) had no toilet facilities for a journey of 3 hours and 45 minutes. Despite the much-reduced service which SWT operates at weekends, if a service is short-formed, subsequent workings by the train are likely to remain short-formed for the rest of the day. For example, on 7/8 September a suburban train, without toilet facilities, operated between Waterloo and Reading on Saturday evening, and continued in use all day Sunday.

What people really think of SWT: Letters

“I have commuted from Bournemouth to London since 2006 and have seen my annual season ticket almost double in price. I toyed with the idea of leaving my job as it was becoming unsustainable to pay the extortionate fares for the train. I have always hated coach travel, but lo and behold it has been the answer to my prayers. Although there is less flexibility than the train, I am guaranteed a seat. My journey time is 30 minutes less each way than the train. And it is almost £3,000 per annum cheaper (taking into account that I now need an Oyster card) allowing for holidays, flexitime and working from home. After all, I am only buying tickets for when I travel, as opposed to the endless days unused on a season ticket.” Adrian Newman, Bournemouth [Evening Standard 7.8.2013]

“Wimbledon train station is one of the busiest in south-west London, with lengthy queues at ticket offices and many counters unattended. Why then does South West Trains insist three of its staff stand gormlessly each morning on the busiest platform doing nothing whatsoever other than “protect” a platform barrier divide that goes down the main length of the platform? Yet another example of higher train fares being put to ridiculous use.” Lauren Clarke SW19 [Evening Standard 23.8.2013]

“South West Trains: I would like to comment on my experience of your customer service as a result of the line closure between Shawford and Eastleigh on 24th August. Whilst I understand the original incident was beyond your control I was very disappointed by your actions towards your customers as a result of this. Travelling on the 18.30 service from Southampton Central to Waterloo we returned from outside Eastleigh to Southampton and advised that the delay would be 30 to 45 minutes (this turned out to be completely inaccurate). Once back at Southampton we found that none of your staff knew what was going on and after about 30 minutes of total confusion around 200 people were advised to board a [Southern] train from Southampton to Brighton and change at Havant for a London bound train. No additional/emergency service was arranged despite the number of trains and staff available in the station. Once on the Brighton train there was no information provided about the timing of the service to London, sad but not unexpected at this point. Having got to Havant at 20.00 we found the toilets shut and a lack of staff to assist, again disappointing. We found the next scheduled service from London to Havant was due at 20.31 but while waiting on the platform at 20.15 a train to London went through the station, can you explain why this wasn’t asked to stop additionally at Havant to assist your customers? When we finally boarded the London train we were greeted by several communications from staff warning that if we had Southern service tickets we would be charged full standard fare and to ensure we obtained the correct ticket, which given that some customers were now 2 hours late was nothing short of insulting! The guard informed us that he was checking arrangements for onward travel from London for customers to the north east, information for others was not available. I’m surprised that this was left to the guard of this service and was not being dealt with by SWT management who were aware of this 2 hours before!!?? The final insult was arranged for our arrival at Waterloo, we were greeted by 5 police officers but not one SWT customer service staff member! All in all shocking customer service which deserves explanation if you truly care about your customers.” Richard Briant [Twitter]

“I was somewhat bemused to read that South West Trains is planning to order a fleet of 40 new five-car trains to be used on its inner-suburban services. I understand that these trains are needed to reduce overcrowding during the peak periods. What I fail to understand is why it continues to allow regular overcrowding during off-peak periods - by running mainly five-coach trains from London to Southampton and Bournemouth when it has enough rolling stock to run ten-coach trains on a busy line that earns a lot of revenue. This overcrowding is particularly acute during the summer period and on Bank Holiday weekends. SWT claims it must save money on train leasing costs and track access charges, by running five-coach trains in the off-peak periods. Given the increase in revenue during the past few years, I think it is high time SWT puts a stop to this penny-pinching, and provides a more comfortable travel experience using more ten-coach trains on this busy line.” Nigel Perkins [RAIL 728]

“We, as a family, had a day out in London and decided not to go by train as it was too expensive from Southampton. We found a website which let us park in Richmond on someone’s drive, which worked out just over half the price. The train prices in this country are a disgrace compared to other countries.” John Newman [Southern Daily Echo 21/8/2013]

What people really think of SWT: Webchat event - 5/9/2013

Overview Questions were numbered 1 to 136, with four missing - we know from experience that SWT may ignore some questions it doesn’t like. On our reckoning, 86 (65%) of the answered questions were negative, with some extremely critical; 33 (25%) were asking for information; and 13 (10%) were making suggestions, which were mainly dismissed.

Questions which speak volumes:

Question: 64 While I think that it's good that you do these webchats, I'm always disappointed by the cut and paste answers you give. No doubt there will be howls of protest about the abysmal service you have given over the last three months. No doubt you will say that you are sorry and that you are working hard to deal with the issues. The fact remains that your customers need a reliable railway and you are unable to provide it. The level of track and signal failures is totally unacceptable, especially on suburban routes where a problem is compounded by an intense service, leading to significant delays, cancellations and ensuing inconvenience. Please could you publish a clear and credible plan that charts how you will get your trains back on time and gives some confidence to your customers that things will get better?

Question: 55 What is going to be done about the standard of hygiene on your trains? It is absolutely disgusting to see inches of urine standing on the toilet floors or rivers of urine flowing from underneath toilet doors and what's worse see the urine-stained carpets, on the same carriage, still wet several days later. I have mentioned this to your twitter team and provided photographic evidence but all we get is false apologies. Your guards are fed up of all the complaints they are receiving about hygiene! What will you be doing to get to the root cause of the problem?

Question: 50 Would it be reasonable to suggest that the passengers of South West Trains from Alton have been suffering increasing delays and cancellations, with the overall experience for most, some of the worst service in the country? Further, would it be correct to assume that the debacle of last week was merely a taste of things to come? Even as I write this message, I note that there are no trains to Alton and the signals have failed again. In closing, is it time to stop pretending that South West Trains can deliver a reliable service to Alton residents, and time also for honest answers so that the commuters of Alton might take their own travel decisions based on facts, rather than hope beyond accomplishment.

Question: 49 When are you going to get rid of the 3rd class blue trains on the Portsmouth line - they are not fit for purpose? We pay a fortune to use your trains - the least you could do is provide decent rolling stock.

Question: 47 Your fares go up year by year, yet still delays, cancellations and rude and bad staffing. Why raise prices when people’s wages are not going up too? People are losing faith in South West Trains. Lower prices dramatically or otherwise people will use other modes of travel.

Question 45 What plans are there for longer trains and new rolling stock on the Epsom branch? The trains are increasingly tatty, unreliable, uncomfortable, overcrowded, overheated and unpleasant. I notice that some platforms along the route have been extended.

Question 44 I would like to understand why so many onboard toilets are out-of-order? In fact the general state of the 'blue' trains has become noticeably more shabby in the last 12 months. The overcrowding is bad enough but it is not pleasant to sit next to a window that is covered in dried-on spilt drinks. The seats are filthy. Is there a deep clean policy above and beyond the occasional sweep through?

Question 41 Just one question. When will I get a train service worth thousands of pounds per year? Your performance is lousy.

Question: 29 Aircon!!! Who sets the temperature onboard? Over the summer the heat onboard the 444s and the 450s has been unbearable at times. It's almost like there is absolutely no cooling onboard. This really is not acceptable in the interests of the passengers’ health!

Question: 11 Quite a few inaccurate signs popping up around your stations - might be worth a review! Examples: Poole platform 1 side entrance: both platforms listed as being "this side" - they're not, one's over a bridge. Poole platform 2 exit: "Way out (via subway)" - it's not via a subway. Bournemouth: sign pointing out wide gate exit on platform 3 is illustrated with a picture of a lift! Waterloo: should you have giant "Exit" signs mounted above dead ends? Not terribly wise in a busy public area, but that's what you've managed to do with the ticket office when viewed from the concourse! "No entry" would surely be less dodgy in terms of safety and confusing people?! Would also say that white-on-navy signs are really difficult to read in low light (i.e. at night) as they just disappear into the gloom. Not good for rural / suburban stations!

Planted questions?

With reduced station staffing, open ticket barriers, passenger-unfriendly and often broken ticket machines, and a bewildering range of fares, the penalty fares scheme and prosecutions are big business for SWT.

Remember this? “What’s the absolute worst thing you can imagine about travelling with [Stagecoach] East Midlands Trains? … Unless you said “knowing that other people on the train may not have paid,” you're just wrong. We know this because the rail company's managing director, Tim Shoveller, told the Evening Post last week that “one of the things that passengers tell us consistently is that they are fed up with fare evaders.” I think we can all agree that we are not on the side of the ‘regular fare cheats’. At the same time, I am having something of a difficult time imagining the floods of calls and e’mails coming in about this particular issue.”

It’s interesting, therefore, that two of the first questions placed (though deceptively numbered 102 and 76), on the day before the Webchat went live, were about revenue protection. These were the only two questions complaining of ticket infringements; passengers are far more concerned about SWT’s atrocious service. What chance that they were planted by someone connected with the company, especially as they were both anonymous?

Question: 102 I am pleased to see that you seem to have stepped up the ticket checks at barrier-less stations in the Portsmouth area but when will you start doing something about the people who constantly travel between Fratton, Hilsea, Cosham and Portchester, constantly avoiding the fares? The distances between the stations are so short it's a fare dodger's paradise. I use this stopping service daily and could estimate probably half a dozen people in my carriage alone who I see regularly having to buy a ticket should the guard come through and if the guard doesn't, free ride! It makes me wonder why I bother to buy my ticket as only rarely would I have to pay a penalty fare and by that time I would have easily covered the cost in saved fares.

Question: 76 “I raised a question last time in reference to revenue inspection. I can safely say I have noticed no improvement in people being bought to task for not having a ticket. I have witnessed since my last question, individuals being let through barriers at Waterloo with off peak tickets to travel on peak services this I have seen daily, also a number of individuals travelling on trains with no tickets and guards taking no action just letting them continue their journey, at least monthly I have observed this. This just makes me feel cheated that I now pay over £4,200 a year and people are getting away scot-free with their travel or not paying the right fare. When is this going to be addressed? Also there are no ticket checks for Oyster passengers so conceivably being let through the barriers at Waterloo (which I have witnessed), and no doubt at the other end, then these people get free travel.”

What passengers really think of SWT – E’mails

“I missed the mayhem at Waterloo this evening but there appeared to be speed restrictions between Clapham and Waterloo at midday - not something SWT was making people aware of, but I saw Network Rail information on one of the screens at Guildford suggesting speed restrictions would be in place between 12-6pm. No mention of this on the PA system at the station or on the train, so presumably SWT didn’t want to encourage even more negative headlines after last week's news coverage.

I have also noticed that the train pulled into Waterloo just under five minutes late (despite the speed restrictions near Waterloo / and slow running at Weybridge).  We waited for one minute while the train was split and in this time the arrival screen (on the mobile website) had cleared.  I wonder if some of the late arrivals are deleted before they have exceeded the five minute point to improve statistics?  Not the first time this has happened.  Also worth mentioning that the door jammed when I tried to leave the train and two or three people behind me nearly lost their balance as they attempted to disembark through a narrow gap.  I suspect maintenance is being cut to the bone judging by the number of train failures and frequent door jams.  I have noticed a number of the key-operated flaps by the doors (non-tech word I know) for the guards to release the doors are in some ways damaged, in the worse cases anyone can access the PA system (and perhaps door opening facilities although I’d like to think there is some sort of restriction on this)?  In most cases it looks like the lock has been damaged / worn out.

I also noticed that two platforms had trains arriving on them this evening (platforms 1-4) despite the fact these were apparently 'closed' due to the emergency engineering works.

I have now read the latest newsletter and it’s an excellent source of information as ever.  Petersfield station ticket office was closed 3 weeks ago for at least an hour and no indication as to why this was the case, just a notice on both windows saying: 'ticket office closed'.  I really hope your efforts will one day be rewarded with the removal of Stagecoach from the SWT franchise.  I cannot believe their shockingly poor 'service' has been allowed to continue for as long as it has.  Stagecoach clearly benefit from having friends who are in government / the DfT and / or politician's obsession with claiming privatisation works regardless of the obvious flaw of having routes operated without competition.” [E’mail to SHRUG from Surrey rail user, July 2013]

“On arrival at Branksome Station this morning, there were no less than FIVE revenue inspectors in the booking hall! You probably know that there is only one entrance to Branksome station, the booking office was open, manned by the regular booking office clerk, Jason, and all passengers whether for up or down services have to pass through this smallish lobby! Where are they at 7.30pm at night?” [E’mail to SHRUG from Dorset rail user, October 2013]

What passengers really think of SWT: Twitter

SWT’s Twitter facility provides information, apologises endlessly, and refers people to Customer Services.

Passengers hate 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.

What is particularly noticeable is the glaring absence of any promise to improve the treatment of passengers. A few excerpts, with small corrections / amendments for clarity):



SWT once again proving how utterly incompetent they are. /// If they gave out a refund for every delayed train SWT would go bust within the hour!! /// Your season ticket section on your website has been out of order for days, getting to be another joke. /// SWT beggars belief. /// Your appalling service is driving me to drink. /// At what point do you have to stop charging people for this shambles? Trains are ludicrously late and biblically hot. /// I never tweet anymore, but feel too strongly about this... The only thing reliable about you at the moment is your unreliability. /// As an annual ticket holder, I'd like to inform you that your service is very poor. Unfortunately there isn't another service. It's not one thing. It's constant. Late trains, overcrowding. /// What a shocker of a week you are having. One fiasco after another! /// This is a joke? Do we get our money back??? /// Too hot, too cold, too many excuses. /// Bit of a joke. I assume I will be refunded for my journey? Pushing prices up and STILL offering substandard service. Disgrace. /// A different problem every day at SWT. “Owing to a fault with the information screens at London Waterloo we are unable to show any trains...” /// And there we have it, a full 7/7 days of cock-ups from the circus act which 'runs trains' . /// Aahhhh spoke too soon! These clowns are at it again folks. /// I need to make a complaint about the absolutely atrocious service I received from you this evening. It wasn't just the disruption but the unhelpfulness of staff also, which led to a lot of confusion and frustration.

Customer services

Since when can't you buy a weekly ticket starting the next day? [Response: That has been in place for quite some time … As I understand it a recent change to the ticketing software now forces the rule.] /// Day 24 and still no e’mail reply from SWT. Had money stuck in ticket machine, e’mailed 26 days ago and sent another a week ago. /// Please can you check my timeline and advise accordingly? I do not have the emotional energy to have to go through it again. /// Is 4 months an acceptable time to answer a complaint? You take £6k a year from me. /// It's just taken me 1hr 10 minutes to get a refund on my season ticket while your people fill in forms…. No apology? Oh it's only a £6,000 ticket. No biggy!!! You guys need a lesson in customer service. /// When I was told it would take 2 days to be authorised and sorted I didn't expect another month before getting the cheque. /// Lose my card and have to pay for another set of tickets because of your horrific systems? Joke. And useless staff at Waterloo. /// Twenty-two minutes and counting spent at Waterloo trying to get refund on season ticket due to maternity leave. Clerk was inputting wrong details into system. Sorted now with support from 3 others.

Disabled people

My blind colleague handed in her notice yesterday as she can no longer face her commute to work. South West Trains are supposed to provide assistance but she has been so let down, even told 'not my problem' by temporary staff. She moved 5 weeks ago to Surbiton. After 6 years on job she is now choosing unemployment over a commute with SWT. Our team feel so furious about this. I felt the need to complain. I would love to hear SWT’s response to this situation. /// Congratulations SWT! You've managed to outdo South Eastern on your disgusting attitude towards disabled people.


What is happening at Ascot? Where is the train to Guildford? Why aren't you telling people the right platform? /// A train has turned up. The lack of coherent information is frustrating. /// Two trains to Portsmouth are late. Neither is on your delay site. Do you actually care about updating it, or is it a sham? /// I think the guard is dead...no update on why this train is stationary. /// How long will it be until the rail replacement buses reach Virginia Water towards Chertsey? [Response: Taxis are being used, not buses.] The only cabs that have shown up in Addlestone have been opportunists wanting us to pay. Station staff still saying buses on way. [Response: I'm really sorry. I don't know where they have got that from. Nobody has been told that buses are coming!] /// Complete confusion at Virginia Water! No idea which trains are arriving / leaving. Only definite thing is they're all delayed. /// Congratulations SWT - a hat trick! Late leaving Waterloo every night this week and, of course, no information given. /// Stuck at Guildford trying to get to Fareham. Any idea what's going on?... None of your people seem to. /// I’m on a train at Guildford. Guard has no idea what is happening. Are there taxis or not? If so would someone inform your staff?! /// Just to say the website refers to the wrong buses to get to Chessington - should say 71, 465 and K4 - it says 65... /// Jumped on an unexpected train that arrived Clapham 1840. Rumours are we're off to Surbiton. Any idea if it'll stop at Basingstoke? [Response: The guard is the best person to help.] So turn up at Waterloo and take our chances? Fabulous information provision as always. /// Some information please about Havant via Guildford ... been chucked off at Woking but boards say train’s still running. /// There's only so close to the time that one can check. Is it likely to be altered after 18:40? If so, it's useless to me. /// Well done SWT for the announcement telling us of the platform change. Not. /// What's going on with the Camberley-Ascot trains? Been sat here 30 minutes now. How much longer? /// 1620 Exeter train divided at Salisbury. No warning given. Would've made sure I was in front if I'd known, a warning in future please. /// Totally unacceptable to leave passengers standing on the platform when a train has been cancelled and not announce anything! /// People at Vauxhall just told that no trains stopping at platform 8; been waiting twenty minutes!!!! [Response: This is not correct, services are stopping at Vauxhall.] SWT, really??? Perhaps you would tell the 300-odd people told otherwise!!! Moved to platform 3 and told to go to Clapham Junction. /// Tannoy at Vauxhall says no trains from 8, go to 3. We all do. Then watch train stop at 8. Unhappy commuters.


What a joke. No trains to Woking for an hour. They should pay for taxis. /// Stranded at Ascot AGAIN because SWT are late again!!!! /// Now my train has been wiped off the board with no announcement, not that it was stopping where it should have. Delayed 30 minutes now. /// Why was Dorking train 4 coaches with no platform announcement at Clapham Junction? Couldn't get on so just had to wait 30 minutes for a Worcester Park train. /// Thank you for a great service today. No doubt the woman with a baby who couldn't get on too, will be in touch. /// Are we entitled to refund? Going to be waiting over an hour now. Not acceptable in this heat with my 6-year old. /// Hottest day of the year and SWT running short trains. Waiting at New Milton station; three trains, 90 minutes later, still unable to get on. /// This is an absolute joke, been standing for nearly TWO HOURS and we're now being delayed by a preceding train with a fault!!!! /// Delayed, ridiculously overcrowded due to an insufficient number of carriages and freezing cold. Useless! /// No one can even get on at Basingstoke. Guard is telling people not to get on. Good work. Can't wait for the journey home! /// Why didn’t 22.59 Clapham Junction stop at Earlsfield? Stuck at Surbiton for 30 minutes. Luckily caught last train back to Wimbledon. Then walked. /// Approximately what time will the 1.15am train from Clapham Junction to Surbiton be running at? [Response: Hi, I'm afraid this train will not be calling at Clapham Junction this evening. Apologies for this.] /// All trains to Esher cancelled. How are we supposed to get home? /// How come there were TWO cancelled trains from Winchester today? /// What's going on? For two days running my train from Richmond has failed to stop at St Margaret’s. Are we an optional station? Wait 20 minutes for delayed train and then you make it go straight to Waterloo only instead of stopping; packed station in the heat. Delayed Wimbledon train on both days. We all stood by the doors and watched as we sailed past St Margaret's with no explanation. /// My train didn't stop at Putney then stopped at Clapham Junction and didn’t open the doors - currently trying to make it back from Waterloo. /// The Kingston-Wimbledon-Waterloo train seems to have gone crazy after Hampton Wick and has not stopped. Approaching Waterloo now. /// 40 minutes late for a meeting, 25 minutes of which thanks to your service. /// Again when you have trouble Chessington Line abandoned with no apology. Leaving us trainless whilst 6 go to New Malden per hour unfair? /// What possible reason can you have for not providing a stopping service sooner? [Response: We had a loss of all signalling between Guildford and Haslemere earlier which has caused delays. Sorry.] No response I see, clearly you agree you are staggeringly incompetent and inconsiderate. The issue is that you could have made any of the 4 previous services stopping ones! /// Can I claim compensation for cancelled service from Waterloo to Alton - arrived Waterloo station 17:50, eta Alton 20:17 via Woking? [Response: Please contact customerrelations@swtrains.co.uk who deal with compensation claims.] Thank you - Can you confirm that compensation is applicable so I don't waste anymore of my time today?! [Response: They deal with claims on a case by case basis so I can't confirm either way.] So there are no general guidelines on when passengers might be entitled to compensation due to service failure? No web link? /// Why are all Chessington South trains cancelled? I know there are delays but cancelling all of them is not on. /// Any eta on a train to Clandon yet (from Vauxhall) I've been on the platform for nearly an hour now. /// Why, oh why, did you make the 19.39 from Waterloo to Guildford go fast to Effingham Junction? Loads of trains via Cobham. No common sense. /// Isn't the first time this has happened...poor service on Friday as well. Expect better considering the cost of fares. /// That's two consecutive evenings I've had to scrap my plans because of SWT’s inability to run a service or provide ACCURATE/CORRECT information. /// I feel like I'm going to pass out. Thanks SWT, will you make it 3 days in a row and ruin tomorrow’s commute too? /// Delayed again. No air conditioning. Truly unbelievably bad. /// Every time I've tried to get a SWT train this week it's been cancelled or very late.. This one just went straight past us all though. I see you have no answer. Happy to run fast to a station serviced by other lines but not the station prior to it that isn't. /// So my train was delayed and now you are kicking me off at Effingham Junction SWT! We had better be refunded 2 days travel! /// Numerous things - Melting tracks, broken down trains, 15 minutes added to journey tonight.. Endless list really. /// Late home every single night this week, going for the full house tomorrow? /// It's NOT the heat, rather your inability to deal with British weather conditions (rain, snow, sun etc). Would you agree? /// Find a driver please. Been waiting at Woking for 10 minutes now. /// I'm stuck at Guildford because of cancellations. Been here for ages. /// Guildford. Been here for 45 minutes. You have cancelled everything past its arrival time. Trying to get to work. /// Bit of a joke. I assume I will be refunded for my journey? Pushing prices up and STILL offering substandard service. Disgrace. /// Can you tell me why the last train from Kingston-Waterloo left three minutes early leaving several people stranded on platform? Also worth noting that security staff were extremely unhelpful and unconcerned by the fact that people may have been stranded. /// Delays at Clapham Junction are ridiculous, avoid! /// Why is the delayed 09.23 from Leatherhead no longer stopping at Vauxhall or Clapham Junction? [Response: This is because it was delayed on its journey.] … Frustrating when you need to make a connection at Clapham Junction. /// Just ran for your *** train and it left 30 seconds early. [Response: Train doors will close 30 seconds prior to departure.] … It was gone 30 seconds prior to departure! /// How about focusing less resources on inspectors at stations and more on making your trains run on time? /// You're kidding me, the 07.45 to Waterloo only has 3 coaches? This is a usually full and standing peak service. /// Why does your web say no cancellations yet 07.41 Surbiton is cancelled. Would have got earlier train as have meeting at 08.15, now lucky to be there by 08.30. No compensation I presume for this 20 minute delay. So there was absolutely no point me getting up early to make this train was there? What are we blaming this time, the Royal baby? /// Another glittering performance from SWT - train to London "delayed" with no outlook on how long. Chaos on other lines too. /// Looks like my train is going to be delayed... AGAIN. [Response: What train are you on?] I'm not. I just want to get from Weymouth to Dorchester. [Response: The 12.20 left on time and your next train is the 13.03.] No it didn't. I've been sat here since 12 minutes past. I've already bought a ticket otherwise I'd be finding another way to go. [Comment: Odd that Journeycheck showed the 12.20 as being axed between Weymouth and Bournemouth due to duff stock.] /// Want to pay my taxi fare? I'm not sitting in another stuffy train for another hour. /// When are you going to stop screwing those on the Dorking/Epsom lines? Last 3 weeks have been utterly embarrassing. Refunds? /// Every time you mess with the Dorking/Epsom lines you make me trek miles on a broken foot. Are you OK with this? My foot isn't. /// Does the 12:17 Guildford to Waterloo seriously have just 4 coaches?! Normally it’s packed with eight. /// How do I get a refund for the appalling journey on the 09.35 from Norbiton to Waterloo? /// Why is this line being disrupted almost every day over the last fortnight? /// This added over an hour to my journey. Stuck at Ashtead for ages then train only stopped at Waterloo. Spent over 2 hours on train. /// You are joking? There are no taxis here, it's 1.20am! [Response: Are there still 6 people there please? Very sorry for the delay here.] Just 4 now. Two were picked up by friends. How do I get a refund on the taxi fare, my train ticket and compensation for my time? /// Why do your drivers insist on leaving stations early? Has any train ever left on time? /// Please can you tell me why the 08.12 to Waterloo from Fulwell has never been on time during the last 2 years? /// Yet again you fail me by randomly cancelling a train on a Monday morning. Thanks for getting the week off to a flying start. /// Why were there only 4 carriages on the 18.28 Vauxhall to Dorking? Couldn't get on and will be late home now! /// Why do so many of your trains break down? Poor maintenance ?


[Response: So the ticket operated the gate but the guard sold you a new one on board? A response to the police threats? We would need this in writing in order to speak to all staff concerned.] /// A ‘dripping wet’ charge, I might add. [Response: Did you find out why it had been put on your car in error? Did you speak to the manager about that?] I pay you £130 a week and "Danny" wants to make me say "Yes please" to speak to a supervisor? How about no. /// What is the appeals process against penalty fares? I have not been issued it yet but intend to appeal immediately. Disgusted. /// You need to do more if your trains are significantly delayed... Maybe refund a fraction of the stupid fares you charge. [Response: Not in our current contract I am afraid.] /// I have spoken with somebody on a ticket office and my fare was incorrect so will be taking it up accordingly. Give me a contact number or e’mail immediately and I will explain. A 20-year old boy almost lost his job because of this.... /// SWT asked me [my age] and made me get an adult ticket when I was 15 numerous times. /// No hint of a compensation for yesterday's embarrassing farce? /// I lost a weekly ticket one day after purchasing and you would not provide any replacement or refund at all! /// How does SWT explain that I can't buy a peak hour return ticket, but have to buy 2 singles in either direction at double price?

Replacement buses

No bus rail replacement service from Fratton to Portsmouth & Southsea tonight? What happened to it? Can I claim back cab fare?! [Response: Could you tell me what train you were on please?] The 01.06 from Petersfield, stopping at Fratton for the bus (which was announced). [Response: Taxis did run from Fratton last night. I am sorry to hear you did not get one of the prearranged vehicles.] No one said they were arranged, including the two taxis there that saw us tabbing like lemons. Two guys went in one, the other left. [Response: Thank you for the feedback, sorry for your experience, you will have to contact our customer services team.]


Why can't I buy a weekly ticket from Twickenham to Hackney Central, starting tomorrow, without giving up my ticket that expires today? [Response: You can, who said you had to give it up?] The man behind the counter at Twickenham; it's the 2nd time in 2 weeks. I buy them the day before to save time in the morning. /// Guy in the kiosk (Name) at Bracknell station was rude and gave me wrong information about ticket prices. /// Please refer this guard back to HM prisons where you found him. Felt need to name and shame after watching him be aggressively rude to four different people who were just asking him for help! /// Please attend to the bad attitude of the ticket man at Ewell West. Tried to charge me £16.50 for ticket to Vauxhall, then threw my change. /// Do you think it's acceptable for the gate line staff at the back of Guildford to open the gate into customers and laugh? Same old SWT though. Your staff physically assault me and the response has no urgency. I’ll report it but as usual nothing will happen. /// Steaming mad!! Trying to get on a train, buttons not working, guard sees this but train just goes!! Late for meeting now!!! [Response: Seems that train left early from Effingham Junction as well.] /// Asked about delays. When I politely expressed views, was threatened with security, they were three, I am one, 5ft 8in. /// Twice called ‘prick’ this morning by [Name] your Putney platform manager. Acceptable way of speaking to customers? /// Not impressed with guard who wouldn't let a begging passenger on the train after doors closed, then the guard had a sly smile. /// Can't believe I just watched a SWT employee spit on the floor on the platform. Oh wait, yes I can. /// Amazing that @SW_Trains twitter is 100% more polite and useful than any platform guards at Woking station. /// Nine people at Swanwick Station checking for tickets. Is this necessary? Have you got any vacancies in this role? Standing doing nothing and talking to your mates is perfect job for me. /// Your [name] at the customer service desk London Waterloo should go on a course for good manners. /// Ticket machine was broken at station the other day, when I got to Waterloo the guard made me give him £5 to go through barrier! /// Unbelievably rude and petulant SWT staff this morning at Eastleigh train station. Such poor customer service. /// Rudest train guard on the train I'm on, and in the middle of the conversation he got out his i-phone and answered it. /// Just had an extremely rude member of staff (name) shout at elderly passengers on platform 11 at Waterloo. What can I do about this? /// Your staff just stand there and, at last minute, tell what train will depart first when display says different. /// Bad, bad, bad customer service at Waterloo Station. Very long queues for tickets and unhelpful staff. [Response: Can you drop us a quick e’mail so this can be looked into?] E’mail sent on bad customer service at Waterloo, so I expect a response in about 40 days. /// I was refused entry onto the train with my bike. The guard was arrogant and has made me late for an appointment. Unacceptable! [Response: Where were you travelling with your bike to and from? Was it a folding cycle?] Going from Wareham to Branksome on the 07:27 service. Not a folding bike but I've not had this before in the last 4 years. [Response: The experience you have had today. You can write in and tell us more in detail here.] /// Station staff at North Sheen this a.m. reluctant to help my pregnant friend & toddler with pram on footbridge - disgusting & lazy! /// Guard on a train earlier was useless and rude and the train itself was falling apart as well. Not impressed. /// The person at platform 11 at Clapham Junction is the most rude & unhelpful person I've ever had the displeasure of talking to. /// How much are these 4 security guards on plat 5/6 at Wimbledon costing you? They do nothing, and when they do, they act like thugs! And also, what are they there for exactly? They don’t give advice on directions or help people with disabilities, they do not provide any customer service and are just plain rude! I presume you will just ignore my questions then...? /// Ticket queue was huge at station, I go to the grumpy conductor on the train who writes me a warning. Am I meant to miss my train? /// Yet another day at Staines train station where I hear the ticket office clerk being rude. Sort the guy out.


Platform screens off again at Clapham Junction Platforms 15 and 16. /// Any chance of fixing the departure screen at Haslemere?... It's been broken all week! /// Would it kill you to unlock two loos at Ash Vale? The ticket office said they won't, and to wait for a train. /// Awful litter at Chessington South station today. All along station. Bottles, cans plastic bags etc. Not nice for tourists coming for day...! Can't the staff there sort it out? /// Any chance you could sort out the temporary ticket machine on the London bound side at Fleet. Currently only one working and a queue of 25 people. /// DEFINITELY a need for EIGHT station guards on what we all refer to as 'Pesky Platform 10'. /// The announcements at the top end of the platform don't seem to be working, so no-one knew to move down. /// Tons of police and sniffer dogs at Southampton Central, what's going on? [Response: I believe Hampshire Police and BTP are running an operation there but I don't have any more details.] /// Sewage leak at Clapham Junction platform 2 has been there over a week. Very nasty now! Sort it. /// Why is the ticket office at Bookham shut this morning? Is it a part-time station? [Response: Not sure but will find let the station team know.] … Did you hear back from the station team about Bookham ticket office this morning?. It's crazy it's shut during rush hour. I haven't had an explanation why Bookham ticket office was shut this morning as it frequently is. I will have to write to my MP. /// Sewage leak at Clapham Junction platform 2 has been there over a week. Very nasty now! Sort it. /// Oh how convenient, all your staff have left the station! Can you please send me approximately 15 delay-repay forms? /// Should send someone to check the middle platform at Wandsworth Town. The whole temporary surface at the city end is loose. Possibly about an inch vertical movement on some boards with the most warped edges. /// Any news on when the toilets at Dorchester South will open again? It's been over 4 months! // Why is the Real Time information screen at Haslemere still not fixed? It has been nearly 6 weeks! /// [Response: I can confirm the ticket office is now open - I have just spoken to station staff.] It’s a bit late as the train has already left. /// Please install a TFL Oyster touch-in/out machine at Clapham Junction. Hugely inconvenient for passengers to have to leave station. [Response: I am sorry but these were removed, you will have to head to the entry and exits of the station to tap in and tap out.] /// Barriers at Putney rejecting my oyster card with zone 1-3 travel card until 9th August. No staff on hand to assist. /// Shepperton ticket office closed. Queuing for machine at 06.35. /// Screen on Botley’s platform (Fareham direction) is showing diagnostic type stuff instead of train times.

Ticket machines

Ticket machine at station didn't work and the ticket machine on the train doesn't work, how can I buy a ticket? [Response: You will need to talk to staff at your destination station. Possibly get the guard to write down the fact he couldn't issue ticket.] /// The ticket machine at Claygate station is not working!!! /// Ticket machine broken at Ashford, Surrey leading to platform 2; unable to buy tickets due to the massive queue at the other machine! /// Why is it not possible to buy monthly travelcards from machines at your station? [Evasive response: I am afraid not. You do have to go to the ticket office.] /// Queued for 15 minutes for a ticket and only just got on the train - 10 people behind me. Why only 1 machine? Happening too often now. Cobham and Stoke d'Abernon, and have the same problems at Esher. /// You might want to sort the ticket machine out at Woking it's charging but not giving tickets. No sign or anything. [Response: Hi, which machine is that?] The one on the town side where the counters are. Lots of angry people.


In the space of 15 minutes I've witnessed a man and a pregnant woman faint; maybe add extra carriages so the 08.08 isn't so BLOODY packed. I was on the 08.08 from Surbiton to Waterloo. It is ridiculously packed every day! /// Thank you for the aircon* this morning (* by aircon I mean 30 degrees heat). /// Why does every train I take from Ascot lately have piles of rubbish ? Have you sacked all the cleaners or something? /// Why on earth do you feel it necessary to have the heating on when it's 20C?! Just what my overcrowded morning commute needs! /// How can you justify charging passengers full fare when they are crammed into carriages like cattle? No room to sit on the FLOOR! /// Train is sweltering today! Could someone ask the guard of the 07:17 Earley to Waterloo to stick the air conditioning on!! /// Please can you tell me why there is no air conditioning on your trains today and the windows are locked shut?! /// It would appear SWT washed this carriage with the windows open or something. Every seat soaked and I have a wet bum now. Some seats so wet it runs down your leg when you sit (like the one I sat in) others "damp". /// At 23:46 the air conditioning is still not working. Thanks SWT. The 17:45 from Waterloo to Havant followed by the 23:35 from Woking to Poole. Not a pleasant evening of commuting! My commuting hell is complete. /// Please could you turn the air conditioning on! It's like a sauna in here! 13:39 Clapham Junction to Portsmouth. I had to get off, it was like an oven. /// It’s the hottest day ever and this train has no refreshment trolley. In addition to insult, no complimentary water but the opportunity to PAY to move to first class. /// Secretly happy that the doors in my carriage don't work, so we all have some space to breathe today. /// More trains or longer trains would reduce the risk of people fainting due to faulty air conditioning. I don't get how today is "extreme". /// The train this morning has the heaters on, is that some clever ruse for keeping the rails cold or just that driver likes a sweat? /// Over 1 hour on the 12.56 Waterloo-Reading- Reading in plus 40 degrees with the heating on was not fun, thank you. // How in any universe is it correct to have the radiator in your trains so hot it burns to touch in this heat!! /// My fellow sauna goers are actually starting to bond now. Well, whinge together, should I say. /// Why do so few of your trains have toilets? /// So much for the bike rack - pushchair and golf bag making it unusable. [Response: We will make the guard aware of this if they haven't spotted it already, thank you for letting us know.] The guard smirked and shook his head as he was checking tickets. It just demonstrates woeful cycle provision on your trains. /// Are you running the Ascot to Reading services? Why were the carriages hotter than the sun? ..... I know the air conditioning wasn't working but could we not open the window. /// 07:20 Waterloo-Reading... There’s no air conditioning and the train’s packed! Help! /// Why have a first class compartment on a train with 300 standing passengers on it? /// Is the air conditioning broken on your 17.28 from Eastleigh to Portsmouth Harbour? 1st is roasting hot. /// It’s +30 degrees on this train at Waterloo. Not good. /// Please explain why we pay thousands of pounds to utilise your trains with no air conditioning or windows that open!? /// On the 16.39 Waterloo to Botley ...... This is NOT a day not to have the air conditioning on!!!! /// SWT seem to have air conditioning issues... Just when you need it. /// Can you do something about the air conditioning on your Reading to Waterloo services PLEASE! The fans must be on lowest setting, it is roasting!! Train is too full to move, 17.35 Waterloo to Reading, 5th carriage from front sweltering on this train. /// In this hot weather on your non-air conditioned trains, with delays recently, what measures have you in place to ensure people's wellbeing? [Response: Bottled water is available at major stations for trains that are delayed.] For free? And from where on those stations? Even with water the trains are unbearable. [Response: Yes, free. These are provided to the guard to distribute.] Except that usually you have no space to move, let alone be able to walk down the carriages to find the guard. Has anyone ever seen any of this supposed FREE WATER TO CUSTOMERS?! Answer is no. Never. Not once. Doesn't exist! [Second caller: Mind the profit margin!] /// Might be sitting in the luggage rack again tonight but at least I get to sit next to the blazing heater. Thanks SWT! /// Looks like SWT have screwed up again. Might be an effort to get home tonight!!!!! /// For a moment I thought I'd died and was being cremated. My mistake, I'm just enjoying a scorching hot ride on a SWT train to Waterloo. /// SWT, you've cancelled the train I was sitting on. Now rammed like cattle onto a tiny, HOT train & will be late for work. Thanks. /// I drank my bottle of water. But then it turned out all toilets on my train were unusable. Two hour journey. It was the 09:35 Waterloo to Weymouth this morning. One officially out of order, four flooded and unusable (especially in sandals). /// Horrible journey back from London as air conditioning not working. Do you think in such weather a free cold drink could be provided? /// Was on a red train, 06.31 from Dorking. Fully aware it has no air-conditioning but why have the heating on!? /// Why does the 18:32 train Waterloo to Basingstoke have no air conditioning? It's blowing out hot air and passengers are about to faint!!!' [Second caller: Same story on the 19:02 Waterloo to Basingstoke. Come on SWT, you make enough money!!! Disgraceful!!] /// Why the differing train facilities? Seems odd if both serve a similar region? Or regions that are similar? [Second caller: Because they simply don't want to spend the money.] /// On 19.39 Waterloo-Worcester Park and the floor heaters are on. /// Why is the 08:21 North Sheen to Waterloo a short train? It's like cattle conditions in here. You really do treat your paying customers badly. /// Stuck on (hot) train outside Guildford. Do you have an estimate of when will get moving? /// FIX YOUR AIR CONDITIONING OR UNLOCK THE *** WINDOWS /// Will it take someone to die from the heat on SWT for them to sort it out!! It's insane!!! Travelling home in a sauna!!! /// Just got on a Reading train, as soon as it arrived in Waterloo. Now about to depart. No staff have been near the toilets? Why? [Response: The train would have to be serviced in the depot to restore the toilets, we can only add water at London Waterloo.] That’s crazy surely? How can a "service" be run like that? Aren't toilets cleaned throughout the day? Do you care about comfort? So if a train has toilets that go out of order in the morning, customers have to suffer for the rest of the day? Unbelievable! Could you please provide the e’mail address of the person responsible for this farce? The service is not acceptable, especially as the toilet will almost certainly be out of order at Wokingham station when we arrive there. Reduce fares or provide first world service. /// Oh come on SWT. This is disgusting, dirty and stank. 22:52 from Waterloo.



Compensation is not the solution – to begin fixing your problems and treating customers as customers, not cash cows, would be a start. /// Piss up in a brewery springs to mind. /// An AMAZING start to a relaxing few days away with my wife...request a call back to discuss reimbursement and apologies! /// Expect an angry email from me, have been trapped in a carriage on Portsmouth Harbour platform for past hour. Pathetic ! /// You spend most of your day tweeting how poor your service is, so keep it coming! Thankfully this train is working for a change! Also, stop apologising and compensate us for your constant delays which will be rewarded with a huge fare increase in January. /// Star performance SWT. Thank you. And when do I get my fiver for helping you avoid a breach on your franchise agreement? /// I think the chuckle brothers could run a better train network than you. /// Where can I make a complaint against a member of your staff? /// I love how two days into a monthly season ticket it stops working at any gate. Sigh. SWT, you never fail to amaze me.

Customer services

Customer services are equally as useless and twice as patronising! /// Hi, sent a complaint via e’mail over two weeks ago. Still heard nothing back at all. Not impressed. /// A month on your trains. The customer service is awful and I was made to feel like a criminal. /// Are customer services EVER going to reply? Been waiting since 15 July. /// Thanks, tried this twice; phone just rings and rings, nobody answers. /// Your information says lost property open till late but rude, unhelpful people and no answer after 4.50. Poor customer service. /// Just frustrating. We're on third week of delays and no response from customer services or you regarding compensation. /// I've sent you two e’mails about the same complaint, yet no response from your team! What do you recommend? Visit you in person!!!?? /// If I ask for specific train times, I would expect to be able to travel on those tickets that I have asked and paid for. /// Will anyone be informed that there is a lost bag on this train! Phoned lost property and they said call back at 3pm. /// Sent an e’mail last week, still no reply, £15 out of pocket, rude ticket inspector, disgrace. /// Thanks to your awful customer service at Bournemouth station, I had to end up paying £20 for a taxi. /// Details I take no great pleasure in re-sending my letter of complaint to SWT on a DAILY basis, but intend to do so until I receive a response. /// I am still waiting for a reply to my email. It’s been well over a month now and was promised 5 days! /// Why can't I buy a school term time ticket until after midday the day before I need it to start??? I'll have to take a day/afternoon off work - if they'll let me of course. It's ridiculous.. Not happy. I could struggle to get my child the proper ticket in time for the start of term and it will cost me money. [Response: We appreciate it is an inconvenience, but this is to do with the terms and conditions of the current ticketing structure.] /// Clapham Junction office staff just refused to sell me a Watford Junction-Hemel Hempstead ticket. They have no right to refuse me any ticket. Why should I overpay for staff ignorance? What do you suggest I do, quickly? Please can I buy on the train at Watford Junction, or I'll miss my connection? [Response: Just reading your previous tweets, will get back to you.] Yes, I suppose you would avoid explaining why you refused to sell a valid ticket for another operator’s services. I got a ticket by missing my connection at Watford. You should compensate me. Not first time I've met service with a snarl at Clapham Junction. /// The worst customer service ever. Sent an e’mail on 10th August, no reply yet. I've lost out on money and you aren't doing anything. /// Your customer service needs serious review at Ascot. /// I sent a complaint e’mail on 06/08, re-sent on 26/08 and again today... No response yet. Automated e'mail said to wait 5 days. /// Shocking! Absolutely shocking! You say 5 days on your automated e’mail response...we are now 15 days. Can someone call me today?

Disabled people

So SWT stooped to a new low again today - guard said I couldn't get in train as too much luggage in wheelchair space. Discrimination. Christchurch to Poole 15.52 - guard very rude and just told me there was too much luggage. Only resolved when on-board police officer came along and moved the luggage so guard had to let me on train. Please send me details to complain fully as I’ll be sending an e’mail later tonight. In the meantime your guards need reminder that wheelchair spaces are legal requirements. Expecting a full explanation.


Mass confusion at Surbiton! Platform 3 or 4? Nobody knows. /// The staff in Waterloo are clueless; people are being left on trains sitting for 30mins going nowhere, and then asked to get off train. /// Stuck outside Raynes Park with no announcements. What's the problem? /// [Response: I'm sorry if this wasn't advertised correctly, it is stopping at Richmond.] So the guard has now said we'll stop at Richmond. OK for me but not the girl near us who wanted to go to Clapham. Someone needs a talking to for not mentioning it until we left. /// What is happening with the trains out of Waterloo? At Clapham Junction no announcements. Disgraceful, SWT. /// 17:11 Teddington has now arrived. Why no announcements? /// An announcement would make such a difference - so easy and would save a lot of needless frustration. /// No, SWT hence the frustration!! Been trying to get help since 7.30!! No one answering, no information. /// What do you say to those of us whose stop is cancelled once we're on board, when you want a delayed train to make up time? [Remarkable response: Hi, fully understand how frustrating this is. We are working hard to ensure customers know station stops BEFORE boarding.] /// What's with the new habit of station announcements for a train once the doors have closed? Seen at West Byfleet today and Surbiton often? /// You should update your ‘journeylie’ page. It still says up to 10 minutes. Accurate information, that's all we ask. Waterloo is a total shambles today. 15.42 moving now... 15 minutes delayed and no one telling us why until just now, so was sitting on train full of annoyed people! /// On the delayed train to Exeter - someone has said it will not now go to Exeter but terminate in Salisbury - advice? /// 18.09 starting at Woking but no connection to Woking. Best in joined-up thinking. [Response: The 18.05 Weymouth service was stopping additionally at Woking to provide a connection.] … But on screen it was first stop Winchester and no announcement between 18.00 and 18.05. We're not mind readers. /// Why do loads of trains leaving Waterloo show ‘via Epsom’ even when going to Woking and Hampton Court.? Time to remove that display? /// Very disappointed you avoided the difficult questions I asked this morning. Repeated a.m. Chessington line cancellations are not acceptable. /// A bit of notice would've been good. Coach driver wouldn't let me on with folding bike so had to get a taxi from Wimbledon. /// Your staff at Aldershot have no clue what's going on - too few buses, all full already. Well planned... /// Do you not think getting the links working and active would help your cause during frankly what is a PR disaster for you. /// The change in rules re. putting travel cards on Oyster is wreaking havoc at stations. I highly recommend you publicise the change. /// Why is the 18.41 Kew Bridge displayed as being 8 minutes late, voiced at 7 minutes late, then turns up 1 minute late. Crap info again SWT! /// I believe the 18.02 and 18.32 trains are cancelled. Nothing on the London Waterloo board. /// You know that people have to adjust their working day to your unreliable train schedule. Please communicate any delays. /// Very annoyed with SWT. Missed my train as the screens are wrong at Vauxhall! Only after it was gone they announced screens were wrong. /// Can you 100% confirm trains will be running from Farnham to Waterloo tomorrow? Posters suggest otherwise! /// That's not a valid answer. No announcements made onboard the train. Appalling service.


Make me wait for ages, then decide to cancel out all the stops and go straight to Waterloo, leaving me stranded. /// Stuck in Teddington now! Looking for bus/taxi! On a bad ankle. Great stuff. Top work. /// Getting a bus as you guys are woeful! Can I have your customer service number too as I'm just wasting my money and time. /// What the hell is the problem with your service? Late again from Waterloo? /// How does one get from Clapham Junction to Berrylands with all these cancellations? /// Why do you cancel trains to Dorking every time there is a problem at Waterloo? /// So now we have to wait 30 minutes to get to Leatherhead if that train is running? /// The speed at which your slight problems become mega fails is the only fast thing about your service. /// Have you stopped tweeting? Heard trains `running reduced speed due to HEAT?!` Seriously!? It’s only 21 degrees!! God help us later. /// Can you let me know why your horrible train is snailling along the track from Waterloo to Clapham? /// Are there any trains stopping at Berrylands tonight please? [Response: Only trains from Hampton Court to London, you'll need to travel down to Surbiton and come back to Berrylands.] /// Thank you SWT; no trains home till 8pm on a Friday evening.. Great way to start the weekend! /// Trains still late and getting later. You really are shockingly poor. /// Next time the Mayor of London has a cycling event, please plan ahead for longer trains to accommodate cyclists & normal passengers. /// Why don't you use 8 coach trains on Sundays - at least when there's an event? Surrey trains are packed today. /// Crammed trains and then only 4 carriages from platform 11 at Clapham Junction once again! Why? /// No explanation as to why the 17.53 isn't calling at Surbiton? Got the 16.50 which now resembles a hot & sweaty cattle truck. /// So here we are - stuck in Aldershot; a train is stuck in Farnham; another is ahead of us - the 'stuck-ness' & location unclear. /// Just sat on a train between Vauxhall and Waterloo for literally 35 minutes – that’s how long it takes to switch platforms. /// If there were genuine alternative options, NOBODY would use your fiasco of a service. /// You are USELESSSSSSS! I swear, every single time I go to get a train, it's delayed by at least 10 minutes. Liberties. /// Why is the 07.10 from Woking to Guildford delayed always on a Tuesday (again today). I end up an hour late for work. /// Why didn't the 15.23 to Alton stop at Surbiton as advertised? Why didn't your crew say anything until we were passing? [Response: The train was incorrectly routed and was unable to access the platform at Surbiton.] /// Will any stops magically disappear so you avoid a delay on the train's next journey? /// Thank you SWT for cancelling my train with 2 minutes’ notice. I always prefer being stranded instead of figuring out another route. /// What's the long term plan for the emergency engineering works? They seem to be required every other day? /// SWT, time to throw the towel in? Has there been a single day this summer without problems? /// Thanks...do you at least know if it's going to actually call at Clapham junction or sail past me? /// The 07.44 from Hounslow to Waterloo left 3mins early today without any explanation or announcement - poor service for people paying too much! /// SWT need to stick to timetable. 07.50 arrived at 07.45. Had to speak to the conductor as he was about to move off at 07.46... /// It's happening by up to two or three minutes on occasions! /// Happened this morning at Hounslow too -07.44 left at 07.41, leaving a lot of people late for work. /// Got to love the trains that leave early... At Syon Lane it happens all the time. Can't your staff read the time? [Evasive response: Train doors are locked up to 30 seconds before departure, and can't be opened again.] /// What happened to the 17.53 tonight to Basingstoke? No stop at Surbiton and now the 18.02 only has 8 coaches! Ideal. /// Couldn't SWT at least have 12 cars on Surbiton trains considering all the cancelled services this week? 17.32 was rammed. [Response: Sorry about this, we use all of our trains during peak times and don't have more to add.] /// We've run out of electricity on the Guildford train at Ashtead. You can't have forgotten to pay the bill with all that money. [Response: The driver is just checking the train. More details to follow shortly.] We've just been kicked off at Leatherhead and told to get the next train. /// If the problems that occur on SWT's trains were infrequent I'd have a lot more patience, but they delay me a lot now. /// Please join me and my fellow passengers on this train packed like cattle and then maybe think if there might be other options? /// Why do your trains depart a minute early? Everyone missed the 8:06 from Clapham to Strawberry Hill because it left at 8:05! [Evasive response: The dispatch starts and we do close doors 30 seconds before departure.] … In this case, it was 59 seconds before departure. Doesn't sound much, but it's the difference between being on that train and not. /// If I miss my connecting train AGAIN due to hold up at Surbiton, who do I serve my penalty notice to - SWT or Network Rail? /// Why does 17.53 to Basingstoke have so much padding in timetable? eg. left Woking 2 minutes late, arr. Farnborough 2 minutes early. /// Two weeks of cancelled 18:09 Basingstoke train from Surbiton and now this morning's fiasco. Surely you will now consider compensation? /// SWT utterly useless again. [Second caller: It’s all the time mate and they offer no proper apology!!] They are a joke. Sat waiting for trains about 2 hours in 3 days. [Response: Morning, where are you travelling from and to?] Feels like hell and back to be fair!!! Forget it. Just sort out the issues. /// After a long day at work SWT never fail to disappoint with another delayed train. Worst train company. /// Any reason for the Chessington cancellation tonight? The line was out this morning as well. It's proving to be pretty useless. /// It’s ridiculous to be honest. I'm kept awake all night by engineering work on a line that is then out of service when I need it. /// [SWT tweet: 19:23 Waterloo to Surbiton is cancelled due to a fault. 19:25 Waterloo to Alton calls additionally at Surbiton. Apologies if affected.] Well, quite frankly yes - your Alton service is now unbearably packed. Do I get a refund for your awful service? /// Ooh, the 09.39 Chessington South train left 1 minute early! Surely that's not allowed. /// Leaving early. Syon Lane. Not the best start to the day... Please can you get it sorted? /// Thanks for no help. Train cancelled, no driver. You're taking the mickey here. /// Hope you're happy, I'm stuck down south due to your shitty service and can't get back up north. /// Have just cancelled our train home, 15 minutes before its departure time. Wonderful. /// I have just had the most horrendous journey on the 20.42 Waterloo-Portsmouth. /// Hi. 3 hours to get in this morning... No fun at all. Normal service from Farnham tomorrow? 100% certain?! /// Train service is diabolical this week. I hope you're going to make sure all passengers receive compensation for Farnham / Alton issues? /// I think I've been a tad bit too optimistic thinking a journey from New Cross to Southampton daily will be a doddle. /// Utterly shocking service on my journey back to London. Train suddenly terminating in Woking, absolutely no warning. Useless. /// That's every day and every journey this week that's either been cancelled or delayed, compensation? /// Where can I get some money back for this stupid Alton service this week? You haven't offered so looks like I need to ask. /// I see SWT have decided they don't have a duty to get people who live in Southampton home from Waterloo this evening. /// You've cancelled the Weymouth trains but the 17.48 to Southampton can still run? Overcrowded and shambolic. /// Bloody public transport!! Why didn't SWT say on their website when I booked my tickets that there were no trains from Alton?! /// If you don't want people to sit in first class don't cancel trains then only send 8-coach ones to pick up the slack! /// @SW_Trains I've have to drive miles to an alternative station as Alton is closed. I've also had to pay for parking. What's the compensation? [Response: Please see here http://ow.ly/omW8T  I am very sorry for the inconvenience.] Thank you. It still doesn’t tell me about compensation for this appalling disruption to my service. /// Aldershot-Ascot delays? How can this be, with your brand spanking new tested-only-yesterday upgraded signalling? Unbelievable.


I lose my card and have to pay for another set of tickets because of your horrific systems? Joke. And useless staff at Waterloo. [Response: I'm sorry about this but it is a necessary security measure that the original card is used to collect tickets.] ..So your solution is buy another ticket? This happened to me before with VirginTrains and no problem giving me new tickets. /// Refunds as long as not a season ticket holder... 4 hours to get home last month and nothing. /// Ticket person sold me the wrong ticket. I was very specific in my request! Typical, any excuse to rake in the extra money. [Response: I am sorry to hear this, please contact our Customer Relations team here] … SWT, as if! I'm still waiting for a reply on getting a refund when my train was cancelled over a month ago! /// The service consistently is not good enough. How can you justify huge fare rises? SWT is very profitable on back of poor service. /// With other train operators delay repay would have kicked in every time. SWT quick to take money, but not compensate. /// Oh congrats SWT, won't refund my ticket for the train you cancelled unless I go back to where I bought it. Real customer focused... [Response: I'm sorry for the problems this morning, but this is the same for all rail companies for ticket refunds.] So I can't get a refund for ‘your’ cancellation unless I waste an hour going back to the start of my journey? Really? That's mad. /// SWT cautioning and fining two confused and upset pensioners next to me for not having the right supporting documents. /// How does stranding a 16 year old boy, 65 miles from home with no money, fit in with your duty of care policy? Please advise me. /// Thank you for your response. Who can I contact to be compensated for almost two weeks of cancelled trains? I have a monthly. [Response: Customer Services can advise on refund information however I am not aware of any plans for refunds for these alterations.] /// Seriously SWT, there still aren't any fast services to Surbiton between 5 and 6?! After more than a week?! That is just atrocious. [Response: I'm sorry, we cannot add more fast services without causing significant delay to numerous services.] ... Presume this entitles Gold Ticket holders to refunds? [Response: I do not believe this will be the case.] /// Incredibly angry that SWT charged my card twice this morning. Utterly unacceptable. /// Is it standard practice to charge someone for a train they've missed due to delays on other train services? /// A £10 administrative charge on a £2.20 ticket?! That's absurd! It doesn't cost £10 to put something through a till! /// Extremely disappointed that there is no refund available on a monthly season ticket with over a quarter of the month remaining! /// This explains nothing except that you do all you can to not compensate travellers for your mistakes, planned or not. /// Struggling to work out why I have been charged extra by SWT after highlighting to them their error. Letter and receipts will follow! /// SWT won't give me my money back cause I made wrong order on ticket machine. EVIL!! Using taxi or bus in future.

Replacement buses

It should be noted that the last replacement bus for Malden Manor and Chessington last night didn't bother waiting for the last train at Worcester Park, ie the train that the 11pm Chessington passengers would have been on from Waterloo. Had to fork out for taxi because the coach left 5 minutes before arrival of said train. Wasn't particularly happy. /// Waterloo to Alton train due at Alton at 21.13. Passengers kicked off at Ash Vale with no onward travel! /// So bus replacement but not stopping at Shawford? That's not helpful when waiting at Shawford? Ideas of how to get home please? /// You guys sure know how to * up a bank holiday. What is happening at Bookham? [Response: Which direction are you travelling - Waterloo or Guildford?] Waterloo. Both directions cancelled. But don't worry you did send a bus, that left ten minutes before the train was due! POOR. I think I'll fork out for a taxi and catch the better service Southern train. /// Any idea where the bus is for Ash Vale to Aldershot? [Response: Which bus were you aiming to get?] Been here since 2pm, no buses. [Response: Could you tell me if you are at the Ash Bus stop after the level crossing?] No, we have been told it’s at the bus stop opposite. Seriously terrible service. Please log complaints. /// I believe there will be a very slow bus replacement service, so paying for a cab instead. /// So what is the compensation scheme for the shambles at Farnham this morning when you had no buses there and no information? /// It's been all week now, and the bus service isn't good enough. /// The bus from Farnham to Bentley is depressing after a long day at work. Sort it out. /// Where do the buses from Ash Vale to Camberley stop? No signs, nothing. /// Six buses in Winchester?! There was just one and it just left. We're still waiting for a solution to get somewhere from here! /// So that's why we were told a trains running and then isn't, and the bus replacement left without us? Good work that.


He has been rude to someone close to me, my little brother, and has reduced my girlfriend to tears for the 2nd time tonight. /// There was a very rude guard at Staines station yesterday, woman asked him to help and he was rather unkind to her. /// Violently waking passengers is frequent and commonplace. This morning on the 7:04 Alton to Waterloo. But I often witness or am victim too. /// Why do you have staff on the advance ticket windows doing nothing when there are long queues at the today ticket windows? At Waterloo, you have three advance tickets windows which normally have no queues and five windows for tickets for that day that have long queues. /// Why are there staff yelling at customers at Clapham Junction? It just makes a bad experience worse. [Response: Where was this on the station? Sometimes they have to shout on the platforms to be heard as it's a very busy station.] .. Right in my ear! I know what the yellow line is for. SWT makes my commute more and more depressing. [Response: I'm sorry for that, but they would only shout if people were the wrong side of the line as the train comes in.] .. Not so. Should I shout back? We all could shout at each other? What a great customer experience that would be? /// Sort your customer services out! Once again kicked off a train due to technical issues & your staff are rude & very unhelpful. [Response: Sorry to hear that. Please contact customerrelations @swtrains.co.uk if you wish to raise a complaint.] Are you kidding? I emailed about 2 months ago regarding a similar affair, but never had a reply. No one cares at SWT. Greed. /// The ticket guy on this train to Farnham is a nightmare! 16 years travelling into London never known anything like it! /// If they’re going to stand around being lazy, then why employ so many employees. I know other service industry where companies get away with such service. [Response: The security team help us look after the one way system in place at the station. I will pass your comments to the team.] … But why four of them when one and a metal barrier will do? Waste of money. Is that their only function? They are just rude!! /// My son is stranded 200 miles away, staff won’t assist or speak to the parents, let him on a train, even though we got a ticket for him. [Response: I'm very sorry to hear this. Which station are they at?] Guildford station. Staff won't speak to us as we got emergency ticket online. Think we are nearly sorted. Staff are shocking. [Response: I'm glad to hear that is nearly sorted. Please get in touch again if there is anything we can help with.] East Midland Trains tell me you are responsible for the staff at Guildford. If so, I suggest they are not presenting the service well. /// Authorised collector number is SW9870. Please sort it out. /// Our transition group have been trying to contact station manager re sprucing up Honiton. Can you help? [Response: Hi, I think customer relations should be able to put you in touch with the right person.] We've been given a person but she never gets back to us. Very frustrating. /// [Name] was very rude to me at Waterloo. Ticket didn't work at barrier so he shouted at me agressively to move along. /// Many thanks to SWT for leaving me at Feltham. Guard saw me pressing the button and the door not opening but refused to let me in. /// This member of staff is unusually unhelpful. He told me to **** off. /// The ticket inspector on this SWT service really smells. Personal hygiene of someone working with people in an enclosed space would be grand. /// Who do I make complaint to about a staff member on the barriers at Waterloo tonight please? /// Just wanted to say how unhelpful a staff member was at Bournemouth after losing my phone!! Rude. /// Can you please teach your 06.34 Guildford to London guards how to issue Zone 1-2 Travel Cards? It's getting embarrassing for them. /// Trying to ask them something and they’re refusing to even look at you when they finally do acknowledge your existence. Lovely. /// I am near appalled at your on-board staff but the 5 policeman and nil customer service staff that greeted passengers at Waterloo was a real touch of class! Hope you are organising compensation for this mess! Please advise. /// Well.. That has to be to rudest SWT customer service staff member ever at Southampton Central... Terrible customer service! /// SWT staff can be awful. Tried to get one to help elderly passenger at ticket gate at Waterloo - "not my problem, mate." /// Watched ticket office man being extremely rude and unhelpful to another passenger at Basingstoke this morning. /// I am telling you here and right now. What will you do with [name] at Vauxhall station, your ticket office manager? Shall I arrange for 100 people to go and hound the rude * out? I am reporting him right now and here for all to see. I will not be fobbed off. /// Wondering why a SWT member of staff asked me 'why I needed the money' on my request for a refund, and why he was so aggressive. /// Train guard so rude to me after I missed my stop (no announcement re. short platform). Basically called me a moron. Thanks SWT! [Response: Can I please confirm which service you were on so we can investigate further? Did they use this language towards you?] I was on the 18.45 to Portsmouth, tried to get off at Witley but there was no further announcement re. short platform. /// I was asked where I was going and only then told it was full and to get off. It wasn't full and my destination was immaterial. /// The attitude from SWT is disgusting! So rude and unhelpful when I asked if I may get an e-ticket because my bank card was stolen!


I don't know what time to arrive for my train anymore; you'll agree that's concerning. Today it was 0732. Frustrating….So, my question is, now we've established 0732 is correct time, why was it advertised as 0734, 0749 etc? Announcement board error? /// Could you get someone soon to get the dead bird off the tracks on platform 1 at Winchester please? It’s been rotting for 2 weeks. /// Good start. Ticket office does not open until after I leave. Also, information boards acting up on Platforms 1 and 2 at Godalming. /// Need to extend my ticket. No booths open at Aldershot and the station I need isn't on the guards machine. [Response: Then you will be allowed to buy this at an interchange on your journey.]… I missed my connection because of that. /// Only one self service machine working and window service closed at Hersham this morning. Long queues. Now I’m late. /// Will Addlestone station ever get a makeover or at least a lick of paint? /// Why is the ticket office at Hersham rarely open before 7.30, the point at which most people travel? [Response: Ticket office staff are also required to maintain ticket and car park machines. I will feed this back to the local team.] There isn't a station car park and, at present, both ticket machines are out of order. /// Woking. I complained on Sunday about the locked baby change facilities and unhelpful staff who couldn't help me find key holder. /// Why is the ticket office at Bookham shut this morning? Is it a part time station? /// SWT machines never work here at Farnborough and staff are always unhelpful! What am I paying raised fares for? Downhill. /// Another fight on platform 9 at Wimbledon due to overcrowding. Is someone going to die before SWT sort it out? We pay enough. /// Just used relatively 'new' toilets at Clapham Junction. Disgusting - smelly, out of order, locks broken. A disgrace for 20p. /// Need to make it clearer on Winchester platforms where subway is. Missed connecting train looking for it. /// The timetable boards seem to have disappeared from Clapham Junction platform 11. Any reason why? /// Why on a busy day like today is there only one ticket desk open at Kingston station? Missed my train. /// The toilets at Windsor & Eton are foul - wee on the seat, on the floor, sanitary bin overflowing, no loo roll, no soap & no staff! /// Amazing, after 3 hours the fire alarm at Clapham Junction has finally stopped. SWT - cheers for ruining my early night. /// Where have the train indicator boards gone at Worcester Park? Some platform announcements would be good as the trains are late. /// Hi, I've parked in Sherborne using Pay by Phone, but it is not allowing to extend it at the moment. What time will I get checked? /// Why is Vauxhall station so dirty? Steps from platform 8 need a good jet wash. Filthy. /// Fratton station today 16.00. All ticket booths closed! /// Why is there no longer a roof at Motspur Park? When it rains there's no shelter!? …. [Following week] Any update why there's no roof? So miserable when it's raining, you get soaked waiting for your train! /// Is it legal that you have no first aiders on site at Wimbledon station??? Left to fend for myself. [Response: At a station like Wimbledon, we will always have a first aider. I am sorry no one pointed you in their direction.] I was crouched in front of the staff member asking for help and told there wasn’t any. /// 07.57 Hampton Wick-Waterloo not on signs - woman leaves cursing. Next train 08.31. Then train unscheduled to stop stops! The lost 07.57! Hmm. /// Why do you tell me Fratton [ticket office] is open when my eyes tell me different. There is obviously a staffing problem there! /// Well done Clapham Junction and SWT - crap bank holiday service, all information boards off, no staff and indecipherable announcements. [Response: Where are you travelling to? We are running a Saturday service today.] Isleworth - passengers at Clapham junction forced to guess which train is going where. /// Farncombe station has serious issues. Hateful station. /// So why have you no staff on platforms at Guildford nor are you giving out platform announcements. Woeful lack of customer care. /// Now your information boards do not work at Guildford so what's train’s what platform? Useless yet again. /// Well done for cocking up the display and announcements at Staines station. Really wanted to spend an extra 20 minutes here. /// Also, platform 5 departure board at Woking says it’s going to Alton but last station is Farnham. /// Well congratulations SWT. You can't make your mind up and the service is * as usual. [Response: Can I ask where you are at/which service you are on so I can assist you please?] I was at Reading. Now en route back to Winnersh Triangle. Platform alterations three times before knowing where to stand. /// This is getting insulting. Four jobsworths on Platform 5 arrogantly telling people to walk to the end of the platform at Wimbledon. /// Any danger that your 6.32 from Wimbledon to Waterloo doesn't leave at 6.31 each day? Some of us have our timings down to a tee. /// The customer information screens are down at Clapham and the employees on the platforms are a disgrace. What about training people when the system fails to read out stops etc, and a little bit of customer care wouldn't go amiss.

Ticket machines

Ticket office closed again. Ticket machine not fixed from yesterday. One way of increasing revenue from penalty fares. /// Missed train despite being 10 minutes early. All ticket machines out of order and kiosk closed at Hersham. /// Day three of only one ticket machine at Aldershot. [Remarkable response: Thank for letting us know, I've passed it along to the station team.] /// Can you advise on the pneumatic drill & chainsaw racket at Claygate station car park. 10pm and two children trying to sleep! /// The ticket machine at Overton took £3 of my money and I had to pay by card in the end, whom do I contact so I can get it back? /// It would be really helpful if times shown on your ticket machines at Surbiton matched times on the platform LED boards! /// You owe me £2 from you're machine in Liphook, I’ll give you a penalty notice of £20, you have 21 days to pay it. Last time I tried to co-operate with staff the lady fined me. Is that not what I should do? /// Ticket machine 3328 at Fleet is very slow. Just taken 4 minutes to buy a ticket. Might need a reboot! /// One of your ticket machines didn't register the £20 note I put in. Have complained online. Anything more you can do? /// Your new ticket machine user interface is terrible. If it isn't broken, don't fix it. /// When buying my ticket my card initially failed, but worked the second time. However I have been charged for both. What do I do? /// If I buy my tickets online and the machine isn't working to collect them, can I collect from a train guard? /// Failed ticket machines and unhelpful staff at Waterloo leave 13 and 14 year olds at station. Nice headline hey!!! /// What has happened to the ticket machines at Winchester? I couldn't request a receipt for my expenses in the new interface. /// So because a SWT ticket machine was out of order and wasn't working.. I get into trouble for it.. Is that some kind of joke? /// Will this be fixed? It hasn't been accepting coins for months.


Seriously SWT, is there a reason why I'm cooking outside Clapham Junction? Overheating. /// Do you know what would be really useful SWT? If you numbered your carriages so we would know if we're in the front 5 or not. [Editorial comment: SWT are years behind Southern] /// Definitely woken up now as the announcements on the 05:46 Swanwick to Southampton Central SWT service are set at 100 decibels!! /// Are the seats ever cleaned on SWT? Not so nice.. /// How can the toilet on the 9.23 from Twickenham to London smell this bad? It smells worse than a campsite toilet. Maybe clean it at night. /// The guard hasn't said one word on this entire journey... Useful for passengers with no tickets... 08:00 Hersham to Waterloo. Found the door control panel left unlocked too... /// Staff asking commuters to complain because the toilets never work and they're fed up with the agro! SWT are shoddy. Worst train company. /// A reply would be nice! On the 07.34 Aldershot to Waterloo and again this morning it is hot, sticky and horrible. [Response: Is it a particular train this is happening on please?] Seems to be every 450 type train I have travelled on the last few weeks. /// Well done SWT, can't even open the train doors at Winchester!!! What a shambles!!! We'll wait till you're ready! Train’s the 19:05 from Winchester to Southampton Central. Took 4 people to open the doors! Over 5 minutes late leaving. /// Any reason why, in mid August, the 5.05pm from Waterloo To Weymouth has heating on full blast? Not surprised passengers are ill!! /// Class 458 unit no. 74017, first of the non-openable windows closest to disabled toilet is leaking badly. Water pooling on floor & in heater. /// Another emotional, rancid-smelling journey with SWT. /// I'm on the Reading to Waterloo train and the carriage is disgusting! We don't pay £1000s a year for this!! Sort it out please! There's rubbish, bits of food on the trays, marks on the floor. Needs a good clean for the next customers. /// Help - being boiled alive on 1813 Waterloo to Shepperton. Train is blowing hot air. Your customers are now the same colour as the upholstery. /// Why split VERY busy train to Exeter at Salisbury? All carriages totally full unnecessarily. Ridiculous given price of rail fares. /// Hotter than a Turkish prison on SWT. /// The doors aren't opening on your trains this morning! Missed my stop at Richmond and am now running late for work! [Second caller: Very dangerous that. Good job there wasn't an emergency.] /// When was the last time you cleaned your trains?? Errrrr!!!! /// Southampton. 75-minute journey and it looks like I'm standing all the way. Not impressed. /// Yet again the 08.04 Staines to Waterloo has broken seats. Not on. /// Do you employ cleaners to actually clean the trains?? Grubby Rail, Grimewatch. [Response: I am sorry to hear this, can I ask which service you are on and I can arrange for the train to be cleaned.] The 09.05 from London Waterloo to Weymouth. /// 14.20 from Waterloo to Reading doesn't seem to have air conditioning. Far too hot. /// SWT are completely incompetent. Just walked up and down a train working out where I need to sit before the train divides, as the signs were wrong. /// SWT is yet again a complete disappointment - "we can't turn the heaters off- sounds mad on a day like this doesn't it?" YES IT DOES. /// Only one functional toilet on a packed train to Weymouth. Poor showing from SWT. /// 17.12 train to Surbiton only has 4 carriages and is packed. Where are the rest of the carriages? /// Have a first class train ticket SWT, but there's no room. /// I'm on the 5.20 Waterloo-Reading. Is there any chance the guard could unlock the windows as air con has failed in car 8? /// Disgusted that on Saturday morning people didn't have seats the whole way from Waterloo to Bournemouth on SWT and only one loo worked! /// 15:49 Woking to Basingstoke has a faulty door on coach 2 (rear is 450094); doors keep closing when you try to open them. /// I try to be understanding that these things happen but I'm crammed in a corner with two bikes and a pram. Four coaches at 7:20. Thanks. /// So the toilet is so flooded today, urine is oozing out from under the door. Absolutely disgraceful. Worst train company. /// The air conditioning on your 450021 train is kaput. Sweltering. /// Enduring a 2-hour packed, hot SWT journey. Why are you only running 5 coaches on such a long journey? Bad planning guys. Awful. It was the 10.12 Clapham Junction to Weymouth. Would have thought school holidays and Bournemouth Air Show would warrant extra coaches? /// Guard replied he was too busy. Not much fun on a 5-car train to Bournemouth packed with Air Show visitors. /// Winnersh train station is a place of broken furniture, graffiti & rubbish. Any chance of a tidy up? /// More out of order toilets. It's every train now. How can you expect women and kids to fight through packed carriages? /// 6th or 5th carriage, apparently air conditioning not working in most carriages. Also hard to move when the train is packed to the rafters. /// Lack of air conditioning on the SWT 17.28 isn't "inconvenient" as your guard put it. It's UNBEARABLE. /// Just sitting on 17.02 to Weybridge from Waterloo. One of the doors seems jammed in last carriage. Fix it before we leave please! /// Last night, packed train but empty 1st class apart from 2 senior managers. Young family moved on at 11pm . Disgusting. /// How come you are so rubbish at using long trains on weekends? On the 1915 from Brockenhurst with my face forced against a window!



Looking forward to the day when SWT doesn't need to apologise for the inconvenience to passengers. It will go down in history.

Customer Services

I love it!! No point in writing letters of complaint to SWT - they really don't give a *! It's how most of your passengers feel! /// This is now the 45th working day since my 2 July e’mail to Customer Services, and the 28th since my 25 July e’mail. /// Worst customer service ever... can someone please respond to my e’mail? /// SWT are useless, wrote to them well over a month ago about a refund and was assured I'd hear back within 20 days... Still nothing! /// Fifty minutes to get a railcard at Southampton Parkway. There was only on man on the ticket machines, and he had to deal with one lady’s problem which look ages. /// Is there a train ombudsman? SWT is ignoring my complaint by e’mail & tweets for update. I e’mailed a complaint on August 19, had no response other than automated one, tweeted twice asking for update, been ignored. /// I made a complaint over 2 months ago, sent 2 follow up e’mails and have yet to have a response....customer service???? /// More terrible customer service and being called a liar by staff after being misinformed by them! Time for prices to go down! /// SWT coming up to 5 weeks to respond to my complaint- DISGUSTING customer service. /// I still haven't received a response from your customer team re delays in August - can you help? /// It's annoying that I have to write to APPLY for a refund. In any other business you'd get one automatically! /// Still no reply! Appalling customer service! /// At SWT they usually ask you to claim back the taxi cost and then take ages to pay. [Second caller: It took 3 months but got refund. Ring them weekly, eventually they get sick of you.] /// It would be really nice if just one person at SWT was useful and not rude. So sick of no one knowing who to talk to about my refund!!!! I want head office contact details. Your service is disgusting and I'm fed up with it! /// A half-day's fare refund does not financially compensate me for working time lost that I have had to make up at personal loss. /// Never contact SWT for anything. Two months for a reply and I might as well just talk to myself. /// Complained 2 weeks ago due to poor service / non ticket refund, no response from customer relations, already chased, advise?

Disabled people

Service didn't stop at Kingston so Network Rail staff told me to change at New Malden but no one available to help me find rail replacement. Suggested I ask another customer, not SWT staff who helped me off train. Another fail by you guys. Apology meaningless as this happens too frequently. You guys treat disabled people like 3rd class passengers. /// I was upset to see your platform staff blowing whistles and shouting to board while a blind lady and guide dog struggled. Terrible. Can you give me the e’mail address please. Really not on. Thuggish platform staff bellowing and not helping.


Why are you not running the 8.39 from Earley to Reading? No information, nobody answering your helpline. Pre-recorded messages. /// It's not enough to stop trains around Hounslow, you're directing people to stations with no trains running. /// If no service from Brentford all day, good idea to close station and update website to stop people turning up. /// Why did you announce that the 18:58 from Richmond to Waterloo was stopping at Vauxhall, and after Clapham Junction left us stranded? The announcement was made once we passed Clapham. Next time I will check here rather than with the train guard. Ridiculous! /// Is there something wrong with your notice boards? I seem to be on a train which said it stops at Raynes Park but doesn't (again!) /// Any update on the emergency track work at Twickenham? Been sitting on a stationary train with no information for some time now. /// Hi, at Earlsfield. Are all trains going to be short formation...? No announcements. /// What platform is the 12.37 going from Portsmouth & Southsea? No information and no staff present to ask. Lots of confused new students. /// Once again SWT prolonged my journey by announcing the wrong information. I get that engineering works can overrun. What we need to know is when services will start. Saying 7, then 8, then 9 is useless. /// I have found a train now. But it'd be more useful if the screens were correct. /// Fed up with lack of info. I walk into station, touch in, all display boards fine. Then twitter tells me my train is cancelled! /// Shepperton train appears at Vauxhall only four coaches with no warning? The station staff didn't even know. It would have been nice to get a verbal warning, especially when the station is so busy. The crush is really special. /// Yet again, SWT up the spout on Monday morning. No reliable information in station. Twitter feed knows more than station screens. Compensation? /// Bought a ticket yesterday a.m. but due to board malfunction no-one could tell me what platform. Missed train - can I claim a refund? /// Ridiculous- your inability to get correct information through is shocking. As if you haven’t screwed up people’s journey enough?! /// Bit of fog and SWT do their typical thing of not running their trains to schedule! No announcements or apologies either. /// Checked National Rail app 15 minutes ago, all good. Get to station and everything cancelled. Have you lot just given up? /// SWT making a hash of things again! Empty train at station and no staff to explain why things not running! /// Wouldn't be a bad idea for your staff to let us know why our trains aren't showing up. A lot of confused people on the platform. /// Please announce train cancellations earlier. We could have all got the 5.27 bus to Hampton Court and got a train from there!! /// [Response: I'm sorry this has been on the website since last night.] But it wasn't on the station notice board this morning. That's my point. Please feed this back to bosses… Telling folk information about train cancellations was on website last night isn't helpful. Folk who get early train go to bed early. /// This is simply unacceptable. This information is posted too late ahead of the Monday commute. Ridiculous. [Cheeky response, ignoring the huge overrun: The work started on Saturday night. What time would you suggest would be suitable?]


This is the second time my train (Vauxhall to Teddington) has been cancelled in a week. What are the rules on claiming a refund? /// The train was supposed to come at 11:32, not 11:30; not impressed. /// The point is you’re always running late, and customers inconvenienced by your lateness then have to get out because you’re missing stops. This happens often so your apologies to customers for being late is to make them later – it’s majorly frustrating. Normally when you inconvenience customers you do things to compensate them, not make it worse for them. But you keep doing the opposite. /// Commuted 7 days with South Eastern .. No problems! One day with SWT and they’re messed up yet again! Angry isn't the word!!!!!! /// Pregnant women standing all the way from Whitchurch to London because someone can't do their job properly. Disgrace. /// South West Trains delayed again. That’s two out if three journeys delayed this week - 66 per cent. What do you have to say to that? /// You have done it again! Thanks for extending my 2 hours return journey to possibly over 3!! /// SWT up to their usual nonsense. Announcement says "Trains may be cancelled, delayed and revised at short notice." Same as usual then. /// As a monthly season ticket holder how do I apply for compensation as it looks like we will get to Winchester an hour late? /// First time in ages I get a train, the London Waterloo’s been cancelled, Weymouth train is running late, never going to get to Poole. Bad. /// Cheers for the cancelled train! I really wanted to spend £37.10 on a ticket to London from Petersfield to sit on a bench. Not. /// What's happening at Brockenhurst? Two trains cancelled. /// Worst train service has to be SWT. If I lose my job for running late can I sue you? At least seven times in the last 4 months. /// Cancelled train yesterday, no replacement bus; cancelled train this morning, no replacement bus. What does my train fare pay for? /// Why have a schedule for trains to leave 6 minutes early! Waited half an hour in the rain at Barnes! /// Ahhh! Sort it out - your 'service' is laughable at Alton. /// Another stressful late/cancelled/delayed journey. SWT are the reason I say "no" when offered jobs in London. I'd like to be polite and say "it's ok" but speaking honestly if I or my company were as unreliable I'd be unemployed. /// 06.38 SWT report no problems.. 0645 all hell breaks loose on the Alton line. /// Do we get a refund for this? One hour and 7 minutes late! /// What's with the short train that just arrived at Raynes Park? No one could get on! The next train was overcrowded too because of that. Horrible journey to work. /// SWT, how do I get compensation for the dreadful service you provide??????? /// Disgusting Service from SWT as usual. Is there an e’mail address I can complain to? /// We get told to wait 40 minutes for a Wimbledon train, it arrives, we then get told it will run fast to Waterloo. Incompetence. /// The train left 2 minutes early. I miss it by seconds and won't make a connection. I’m now almost half hour late. Are you going to pay my childminder excess time fees? Platform man told me it was wrong. /// You're never on time, never make any announcements and I resent the fact I pay so much money for such terrible service. /// I arrived on time; the 17:50 Basingstoke to London was in fact the 17:49 Basingstoke to London. Outrageous! /// I was on the twice-delayed 17.04 from Kingston, and when I got on the doors shut and it went to Waterloo only!! /// I would like a name and telephone number, NOT 0845 to speak to about a refund for the appalling journey this morning. /// Love it when SWT just decide not to stop at my station. Should have gone by Southern. 16.54 train from Fratton to London Waterloo just decided not to stop at Clapham Junction, making me 30 minutes late. Not good! /// Can you stop sending your trains out early, the 19.02 left at 19.00 today. /// The problem is that delays, issues, faults etc are so regular. Why???? That's two days out of three this week my train has had a delay of over 30 minutes. Please sort it out... /// Coming to the conclusion SWT are dire, trains not stopping at scheduled stations and no announcements, many grumpy customers. /// Just announced it’s been cancelled - that's a bit inefficient after you told me it’s coming in 4 minutes. /// Thanks SWT for making me 1 hour late for an appointment with my CEO. /// Why is my train home always delayed? Why are you punishing me after a long day at work? Especially when you charge too much. /// For once can we please have a week with no delays to your ridiculously expensive "service". Once a year would be nice!!!! Running such a consistently bad service must take effort. /// How about you refund ALL affected passengers this morning? No? OK, how about you get out and let another rail company in? /// Just got told greedy SWT are a bunch of rank amateurs who take money and do nothing at all for it. /// Two hours to get to work this morning and now stuck at Twickenham on the way home... Thoroughly rubbish day on SWT. /// Get to miss my children's bedtime again tonight because of your consistent failure. Thanks a lot. /// Actually running the trains might help. Or at least tell people before they buy your stupidly overpriced tickets. /// Every day is a brand new shambles and yet you raise fares each year?! Your owners are criminals and should be exterminated. /// SWT continuing their pisspoor service. Lost count how many times the 05.46 Walton-on-Thames to Waterloo has been cancelled this year. /// I've kept quiet for a few days, but my train home from work has been delayed each day for the past three. /// The 09.04 from Clapham Junction to Waterloo left early at 09.02 today after delays the last two days. What's up with that! /// Wimbledon to Kingston, yesterday gave up and caught a bus (2 cancelled trains and 2 were too packed). /// What is going on on the suburban lines? Every day's journey this week has been a nightmare. 4 car trains, turfed out en route. Delays. /// Can you please tell me why the 07.06pm from Syon Lane to Waterloo left at 7.03pm? /// Are you going to be late on every journey this week? Four days out of four so far and only an apology for one morning. Approximately 100 people put the F word and SWT in the same sentence when the Waterloo train pulled out as we arrived. /// Are you seriously suggesting that the solution to your continually late trains is to get an earlier service? /// Why is the 5.30pm, busy commuter train from Exeter to Waterloo, only 3 carriages long? It's crazy!! No air conditioning either! /// SWT classic chaos on Friday night. Yet again rubbish service from Clapham Junction to Dorking. /// Another Monday, another no show from SWT! Remind us this is the 21st Century? /// So more engineering works this weekend says no trains in Mortlake Monday? Why break habit of letting your high paying customers down? /// Overrunning engineering work isn't an adequate excuse for your woeful service, just another issue you need to apologise for. Can I ask why engineering works constantly overrun? Poor planning or too many tea breaks? It's not acceptable. /// Missed two trains from Farncombe now because they both turned up early!!! Fuming. /// How do you explain your grossly overcrowded trains and having the door closed on me while trying to board? £2,500 a year??? Joke! I was boarding the train! 18:32 Waterloo to Hersham. Wouldn't mind so much if the 08:00 wasn't cancelled this morning, late again! /// Two Mondays in a row getting to work has been a nightmare and no one seems to care!


Your new ticket machine interface cost me £10 today. Nobody in the office at Chertsey means I had to buy a full travelcard. /// Just been effectively robbed by your guard who confiscated travel card as wrong title, despite photographic ID showing same name. Why no common sense discretion and me forced to buy most expensive ticket? /// I lost my annual ticket and now have a new job but can’t cancel it even though it expires in January. As it's a duplicate ticket they won't consider replacing. Surely I'm not your only customer in this situation. Any chance of policy change? /// I don't appreciate being treated as a borderline 'fare dodger' when all I've done is act on advice given by staff. /// Just received a bailiffs letter saying I owe £800 due to a court appearance. I don't remember a letter or court summons! /// I've checked again and apparently it costs the same amount to get to Esher from Alton, Bentley, Farnham, Aldershot...surely not? Today a ticket from Farnham to Esher with 16-25 railcard cost £12, last week it was £10.10...is that right? /// How is it OK to charge me for a peak time ticket for a train so delayed you knew it would run after that time. That's just wrong! /// Very angry with SWT for giving me a parking ticket in a bag of rainwater when I paid with RingGo Parking. They offered to support me in the past with evidence to SWT. /// I'm afraid sometimes sorry isn't good enough. Your service is appalling. Is it 2013 or 1813? /// Guard on 08.39 Yeovil to Exeter train mis-sold me two anytime day returns when we asked for off-peak! /// Can you explain why I've just paid £3.8k for my annual ticket and yet all you do is deliver crap service. /// The Alton rebate isn't being automatically applied to my season renewal, what's going on? /// Tried to get a zones 1-6 travel card. When you select the Network card discount option it goes from £8 to £13!

Replacement buses

Any information on replacement buses from Barnes? No staff, no marked departure point, no timetable etc. /// Woman not allowed on No. 65 from Alton because bus driver wasn’t told about the disruption. /// Bus 33 wasn't advised so had to pay another £2.40 on top of train ticket price for my 2 hour delayed journey. Not pleased! /// So, how do I get a refund for my wasted attempt at a train journey and the 2 buses I had to take this morning? I use PAYG Oyster. /// Shocking service on the bus replacement to Surbiton, driver doesn't even know where he is going. Joke of a service. This bus is disgusting. I'm appalled. /// Was delayed by over 1.5 hours this morning and there was no bus replacement so I missed my meeting. In the end the train was so late I had to drive in, is there anyway I could be refunded for this? /// I get you have to do engineering works, but your replacement bus service to Barnes Bridge only running once an hour is outrageous. I normally have plenty of time to make the connection. SWT website saying I have a to wait 1hr 5mins for the bus. /// You should also let the buses know, as a driver has just had a go at a lady and made her pay bus when she has a train travel card!


Guard told me can't use weekend 1st with summer fever [special offer]. Good job I could show terms and conditions. How much lost revenue from poor staff knowledge? /// Absolutely FURIOUS! Rear 5 coach doors did not open at Clapham Junction and the guard could see us panicking and refused to do anything... It's that fact that the guard SAW us trying to get on the train and ignored us! This has complicated my journey no end. /// Unhelpful train dispatch man at Woking. Told us rudely that once train doors are closed they can't be opened, then promptly opened them for another. /// Just been speaking to Southern, telling them about the rude, ignorant [SWT] staff at Clapham Junction. /// No one will take SWT guards seriously when they're shouting up and down the carriage and taking the * on the 08.14 to Chessington. /// Total confusion on the service to Ash Vale, all because of a manager with attitude at Woking. Wrong information given. /// Why bother? SWT Fascist of the Year already treated me like a criminal! /// Do you normally train your platform staff to scream 'there is a bag unattended on this train!' Freaks commuters out. /// The staff on SWT are usually sickeningly rude. I'm amazed that these people are allowed to be the face of a brand. /// Your security staff on platform 5, with yellow jackets...they look puzzled and don’t understand when asked a question in English! Clapham Junction. Their grasp of English was poor. Do they represent SWT? /// You need to speak to your staff at Clapham Junction about their tone of voice when 'asking' fare paying customers to mind the doors. /// Guards actively sell tickets on trains, inspectors aggressively issue £20 fines claiming it is not allowed. Why? I just saw one of your guards point an old gent towards the carriage doors and then close them before he could board. Classy. /// Guard opened these doors then went off to chat with a mate on the next platform. What does red button do? /// Thanks, that's much more helpful - can you pop a twitter terminal in the customer service in place of that unhelpful bod please? /// Just saw the guard on the 09.30 Basingstoke-Waterloo look down a train full of people standing and say 'For f***'s sake'. /// So hacked off at how you handled passengers at Vauxhall with train disruptions. The on-platform help had more smart-arse attitude than help - "What don't you understand about the board?" - That it’s incorrect. /// Sign at train station ticket office "we can't serve you if you're on the phone". Guy serves me happily chatting on his phone. /// Your guard did not have a working ticket machine and my cards were declined. I want to know why this is? I missed that service. /// Information assistant at Clapham: “I don't know when the next one is or if it's cancelled too, I'm tired. Just wait on platform and see". /// Can you please advise me how I would go about lodging a complaint against your platform staff? /// Your guard on the 16:30 from Southampton to London has just referred to a customer in a public area as a "silly bitch". /// 17.30 to Portsmouth Harbour. Overzealous guard seems to think I should push down crammed train to buy ticket, so harangues customer. /// Since when could I not use my PAYG oyster from Surbiton to Waterloo? [Response: Hi, I'm not aware that you can't use your card. Who has said you cannot use the Oyster Card please?] The guard in the train! We got the 22.16 train from Surbiton to Waterloo and he tried to intimidate us and say we were wrong! [Response: They are still valid. Have you had to pay any extra for another ticket?] No, he decided to "let us off" but I'm still unimpressed with the attitude and behaviour for no reason.


Just for the record, each announcement telling people to stand away from the platform is 2 minutes late. Station: St Denys - Fix it! /// What the hell is going on with SWT announcements. Either normal or deafening, keeps changing mid-sentence. Sort it out. Both directions between Waterloo and Wimbledon - multiple trains. Deafening. /// "Improved buying experience" going well at Guildford … the queues are horrific. Lots of angry people missing trains. /// All hell’s broken loose at Bracknell as all Reading and Waterloo bound services come to a standstill after a signalling issue … an hour long “temporary” fault is packing the station out. /// Paper season ticket not working at gates again! Second time this year. /// Disgusting. Fratton station booking hall stinks of cigarettes. People ignoring no smoking signs just outside and staff do nothing. /// Platform of passengers at Earlsfield delayed 1 hour by incorrect platform signage at Earlsfield, including wheelchair user. Disgusting. /// The vending machine at Waterloo platform 8 is dispensing Maltesers that are several months out of date. /// My son has just been charged for an out of date rail card. Your staff at Winchester issued it in June 2013 with 2013 expiry. /// Nice welcome back to work, massive queue for train ticket! /// The gents toilets at Clapham Junction are a disgrace. Stinking and grimy. Your managers ought to be forced to eat lunch in there. /// No seats Clapham Junction station since December. You do know you carry disabled customers too, who get tired on their feet? /// Aldershot... Cash ticket machine broken, one window open, 15 people in queue. 10 minutes and not one single person has been served. /// Your service from Aldershot this week has been atrocious! Broken ticket machines, short staff, late trains every morning! Useless. /// Every morning at Earlsfield station the whistle blows when people are still getting on - a mad crush or you get left on platform. /// Only 1 ticket machine and 1 staffed box open in RUSH HOUR at Woking. Before your price rise SORT IT OUT!!!!!! Disgusting! Compensate!! /// Still no reasoning or reply? Well, we’ll find an alternative route home. /// Prepare for a barrage of abuse -- many unhappy customers on platform 9 at Wimbledon due to faulty board!! /// Final straw! Poor service on a consistent basis on platform 15 Waterloo. E’mail address to escalate please as it's truly shocking? /// Why close half the exits at Farnborough when it's pouring down rain? /// Winchester: One window open, a ten minute queue & two staff standing around outside wearing 'Customer Service' shirts. /// Thought that the station was meant to be manned and open from 6:00? That's not been the case quite frequently recently. /// Any chance that Datchet ticket office and waiting room can be open as timetabled? Last week or so a number of delayed openings. /// Do you know when the Twickenham ticket hall arrivals board is going to be fixed/replaced please? /// Farnborough station never has any bike cage cards available, how can I get one? /// Why is there nobody at the ticket window in Tolworth station? /// Lots of people get off 1st carriage at Wimbledon, no time to get on! No excuse for staff to swear at customers and push out of way!! /// Shame on you SWT closing the doors on the Exeter train from Clapham Junction. An old lady fell over and you didn't care - you left 10 passengers stranded!! /// Why is it acceptable to close the doors on your passengers as they are boarding? 07.35 Earlsfield to Waterloo. 10 seconds to get on. /// Clapham Junction has 200 people on platform 10 and full trains. Why do we pay a fortune and get no service? /// I was told to come back after 12.00 to buy an annual season ticket - wasn't told ticket window shuts 12.15. Lucky I checked. Going to have to go back tomorrow to get season ticket for Monday. /// What happened to the 17:56 to Alton - nothing at Platform 10 as it said on the board, and I missed it!! [Response: Hello, this train was advertised on platform 13. I will ask the team to look into the platform 10 advertised.] A friend also noticed the 20:23 was advertised on platform 8 and not 9!

Ticket machines

When are you going to fix the ticket machines outside Woking station that don't recognise credit cards? Missed train again. /// Ticket machine at Datchet station not accepting notes or debit cards this afternoon. /// Any chance you can fix the Ash Vale ticket machine so it doesn't print tickets with half the text cut off? /// Claygate station severely in need of extra ticket machine, preferably on London bound platform... permanent queue at current one. /// Your new ticketing systems are slow and hiding all sorts of important options. What used to take 4 clicks now takes 10 (slow) ones. /// Seriously? At Hampton Wick even the ticket machine doesn't work! /// Can you fix the machines at Hersham, was unable to buy a ticket due to both machines not taking any of my cash. /// Your new ticket touch screen interface is a massive step backwards. If it ain't broke don't fix it.. /// It’s rather annoying you said the problem was solved when in fact it wasn't and it meant that we missed our train. Typical. /// Why are you saying my ticket machines have just got better when they are flashing as out of order?!


There's currently a toilet completely flooded in coach 67215 on 16.35 Waterloo to Weymouth. The whole carriage stinks due to this. Same trains and I have already provided all the information to you but all we get is false apologies and no action. /// 10.36 Weybridge to Waterloo: can you turn on the air conditioning?? It’s boiling hot and there are no windows! /// I've just boarded the delayed 18.17 from Vauxhall to Shepperton and the train is boiling! The heating seems to be on!!! /// Seems to be a lot of 'train faults' today. I think I might develop a 'ticket fault' for the rest of the week... /// No air conditioning on the 18.12 train to Basingstoke. It’s so hot! Why wasn’t this fixed? Been like this for over a month. Hotter than the sun. /// Just because it's September, does not mean it's autumn yet... turn the heating off! I'm getting off now, about a kilo lighter. /// If there was a humidity competition, South West Trains would be winning all the medals today. /// It's an overheated filthy train anyway. I often put all the newspapers in the bin myself as SWT don't clean them at Waterloo. /// It's 27 degrees on a heaving train. Air conditioning would be super. /// This is on the 5.56 Wokingham to Waterloo, carriage one. This is disgusting. What do we pay you for? /// Sadly have never seen a train with more than 4 coaches at the weekend - often packed eg RideLondon cycling festival 9-10 August. /// It finally arrived. It is the stopping train and packed already (no seats). Just left Farnham. /// Why is the 17:32 Vauxhall to Windsor half its proper length? You can't charge what you charge and keep pulling stuff like this! /// I just boarded 18.53 from Putney. Penultimate coach. Speaker is FAR TOO LOUD. Unintelligible. Do you ever test the levels? /// 18.54 Waterloo to Dorking. Most carriages stink. Usually do. Disgusting when compared to the cleaner Southern trains. /// Why only 5 carriages on the 17.09 Waterloo to Portsmouth via Basingstoke? We were sardines in the corridors tonight! /// Your train had a stinky, flooded lavatory even before it left Waterloo. Please clean the toilets before each journey. The answer is to have sufficient people to do the job properly. At £4000 p.a that's a reasonable request. /// If I was to bring a pig on board, maybe two, who is responsible for giving them their legal rights? Space/water etc... /// When will this get cleaned? Carriage 67173 at Waterloo now!! /// Another rush hour 4-coach train, 18.24 Waterloo-Dorking. Guard keeps stating doesn't know why. /// Sardines at 30C+ simply not good enough. /// Interesting journey with little information around why some trains were cancelled - Sardines in a can have more space. /// Thanks for the short train from Hampton Court this morning - standing room only before we've left the first station. /// That's not bloody good enough. It's ridiculously overcrowded by Surbiton. Not a word from the guard. This is ridiculous. /// Is it usual to send a 4-carriage suburban train long distance? 1513 Waterloo-Brockenhurst full with people standing. /// Wrong stops being announced on 18:20 Waterloo to Exeter by both guard and signs. Lots of people got off at Basingstoke unnecessarily. Auto announcements and electronic boards missed Overton, Whitchurch and Grateley. Guard no longer moving through train. One announcement was just before leaving Basingstoke so there was a late rush to exit train. On way to Liberal Democrat Conference; been on SWT and Cross Country, difference amazing. Still no WiFi and bad seating, no plug sockets and noisy on SWT /// Another SWT carriage that stinks, nice to know they’re not wasting a penny of profit on cleaning. /// Just seen a beggar harassed by staff on board a SWT service WITH a ticket?! "Don't encourage them" announcements. Are they pigeons?! Literally showed a ticket, had it checked and was going to Clapham Junction. Then was followed down the carriage. /// This South West Trains train has a distinct smell of toilet about it. /// Looks like SWT have continued their good cleaning form, the ceiling is growing mould and air conditioning vents caked in dust. /// Spent £21 on ticket yesterday, had to sit on floor of train Clapham Junction to Woking. /// Thanks for not bothering to clean the 19.00 to Portsmouth. It's fun paying £130 a week for a carriage full of rubbish. /// The 07.40 train from Woking to Waterloo is late and packed. I'm squeezed into a doorway. Not good enough. I really think the suspension on our carriage has gone, it keeps hitting the bottom, ouch. Third carriage on the 18.20 to Woking. /// Coach 67154 is currently sharing the contents of its toilet with the floor. Same ongoing problems from the worst train company. [Response: Many thanks for the detail, sorry for your experience. I will pass this information to our fleet team asap.] Who will ignore the root cause of the problem again! This has been going on for weeks now! GET THE PROBLEM SORTED PLEASE. /// Every single window on my train carriage is open and every time I shut them they open again. Yet another problem with SWT. /// How do I get a reply to an e’mail I sent on 16/9 re damage to my wife's coat by a red hot heater on one of your trains? /// I’m in coach 71725 - it has a massive flat on one if the wheels. Like someone using pneumatic drill on carriage. /// It angers me that SWT still have 1st Class on peak trains when there isn't enough room for us 'regular' ticket holders to stand. /// The door to the first class carriage at the London end of the Waterloo-Reading service is broken (doesn't close). Broken yesterday. /// We all have coats or jackets on, very sweet thought but no need to make the train carriage hotter than Dante's inferno. /// Pretty disgusting state on the 21:12 from Waterloo tonight. /// Now standing on a completely overcrowded train, no one is impressed. /// Overcrowded and smells like a toilet. Nice service SWT.

Stagecoach resists quality contracts for buses

Tyne and Wear, like Southampton, suffers from too many bus operators, with cherry picking of routes. Stagecoach runs about 40% of Tyne and Wear’s buses with a 20% profit margin. Against the background of economic stagnation in the North East, the local authority is looking at exercising its powers to introduce quality contracts, which can specify fares and routes. Operators are unhappy, with Stagecoach saying it will ‘vigorously resist’ quality contracts, by legal challenge or closing its depots [Same old ‘greed before ethics’, in Stagecoach Chairman Brian Souter’s own terms?]

The former shadow transport secretary, Maria Eagle, said “The threats we’ve seen to sack staff, close depots and immediately take buses off the roads are nothing short of an attempt to blackmail councils into abandoning their efforts to get better value for taxpayers’ money through reform”. [Guardian 3/9/2013].

More serious 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. Latest incidents:

1. [The Citizen, Gloucester, 07/06/2013]

Great gran loses foot in Gloucester bus accident

AN 89-YEAR-OLD great-grandmother had to have her right foot amputated because of Stagecoach bus Robert Wright's carelessness, a court heard. Roma Wyburn was boarding Wright's bus in Gloucester city centre when it suddenly moved forward because he had left it in gear – and had not applied the handbrake. Mrs Wyburn fell to the ground and the bus ran over her left foot, trapping it under the wheel, Gloucester Crown Court was told. After firefighters lifted the bus to free her she 'begged' doctors not to amputate the foot – but surgery to save it failed.

Wright, 49, of Corncroft Lane, Matson, was convicted by magistrates last year of dangerous driving and was banned from the road for a year as well as being fined £350. But his appeal against conviction was allowed by the crown court this week, which ruled that his driving was careless rather than dangerous. The court lifted the disqualification and fine and instead endorsed Wright's driving licence with seven penalty points and ordered him to pay £85 costs. Wright still works for Stagecoach, although it's not clear if that is in a driving capacity. The company did not return The Citizen's calls yesterday.

Mrs Wyburn said after Christmas shopping on December 23, 2011 she went to Clarence Street to catch the bus home but it moved forward with her half on, half off, causing her to fall over and trapping her foot. "My head was near the step and I could see onto the bus. I looked and the driver remained in his seat, looking forward. I shouted to him to move the bus but he did nothing," she said. "He didn't even look at me or say sorry. Other passengers came to help me and I put my head in a lady’s lap and lay there. I think I passed out and I woke up in the ambulance."

….. Mrs Wyburn has been fitted with a prosthetic lower leg but said she finds it painful to use for more than a couple of hours a day. She said she agreed with the court's decision but added: "What hurts me most when I look back on it is that I have not heard a word from him or the bus company to say sorry."

2. [WalesOnline, 08/07/2013]

Bus blaze brings M4 to a halt between Newport and Cardiff

No passengers were hurt in the fire, which one eyewitness described as the worst he had seen in '11 years of commuting on the M4'. Rachel Renno was in the passenger seat of a passing car when she took this picture of the blazing bus. These were the dramatic scenes today as flames engulfed a bus that had been travelling down the M4.

No passengers were hurt in the fire, which happened at the busiest point of the rush hour, closing two lanes of the eastbound motorway between Cardiff and Newport at around 5.40pm. Thousands of commuters were forced to wait as emergency services rushed to the scene. Eyewitnesses reported seeing flames licking the bus and a huge column of smoke billowing up into the sky. It is understood the bus' driver pulled over onto the hard shoulder and passengers were able to escape, gathering 50m away behind a motorway barrier.

Rachel Reynolds, 33, of Pentwyn, Cardiff, was a passenger on her way home from a picnic in the sunshine at Tredegar Park when she took this remarkable picture of the blazing bus on her phone. She said: “We were travelling back to Cardiff at around 6pm after a visit to Tredegar Park for a picnic. As soon as we got onto the M4 at Jucntion 28 the traffic was unusually heavy and slow moving and you could immediately see smoke billowing over the M4 in the distance. There was so much smoke we thought a building must have been on fire but as we got closer we firstly saw all the passengers safely at the side of the road and then we approached the bus, the whole of which was on fire. A fire engine was already at the scene with another rushing down the M4 to provide further assistance.”

Another witness, Matthew Muir, said he thought the bus might have overheated and pulled onto the hard shoulder. “A service bus engine must of overheated and caught on fire due to the heat, all passengers were off by the looks of it,” he said. “They were standing behind the crash barriers about 50 metres away from the bus.”

Chris Lewis, who also drove past the bus as it was burning, said it was the worst fire he had seen, "in 11 years of commuting on the M4".

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said it was called at around 5.40pm after the bus caught fire between junctions 28 and 29, where the A48 leaves the motorway for Cardiff. A spokesman said all passengers had left the bus safely and there were no reports of any injuries. The motorway lanes later reopened.”

3. [Matlock Mercury, 08/07/2013]

“Firefighters from Matlock were called into action after a bus caught fire. At 9.01pm on July 6, crews were called to reports that a bus had caught fire on the A632 road, in Kelstedge. The fire was out upon arrival and firefighters carried out an inspection. A Stagecoach engineer was in attendance and police were called for traffic control.”

4. [Exeter Express and Echo, 17/07/2013]

Lucky escape for driver as bus bursts into flames near Tiverton

Plumes of smoke could be seen from miles around after a double-decker bus exploded near Tiverton. The Stagecoach vehicle burst into flames on the Westbound carriageway of the A361 North Devon Link Road just before 4.30pm. A large black pillar of smoke was visible for several miles as emergency services rushed to the scene. Fortunately the vehicle was out of service and the only person on board, the driver, escaped unharmed. The A361 has been closed in the westbound direction at the junction with the M5 motorway. One lane is expected to reopen before 6pm. A diversion has been set up via Halberton. There were major tailbacks between the site of the incident and the M5 junction.

Eyewitness George Burt, 20, said: "We were driving in the opposite direction when we saw this huge column of smoke. We slowed right down and saw this bus completely engulfed in flames, I have never seen anything like it. Police were on the scene but the road hadn't been closed and people were still driving around it. As we got closer to the M5 fire engines and ambulances were racing up to it."

Tiverton Station Commander Darryn Palk said: "The Stagecoach double-decker bus was driving along, with a police car following it, and the police officer saw something go bang and then it caught fire. We're now sure what caused it as yet." Emergency services were called at 4.29pm. Two fire engines dealt with the incident and called for extra water to be sent from Barnstaple.

Witnesses said two more explosions could be heard as the bus burned. It was completely destroyed in the fire. A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said at 5.30pm: “Junction 27 to Bolham roundabout has re-opened as a diversion are now in place via Halberton. One lane of the western carriageway will be opening shortly.””

5. [Swindon Advertiser, 05/09/2013]

Lucky escape after bus bursts into flames in Swindon town centre

PEOPLE on a bus that suddenly exploded yesterday escaped unharmed from a blaze that completely destroyed the vehicle. The Stagecoach service exploded twice and caught fire during the afternoon heat on the junction of Fleming Way and Spring Gardens. At around 4.40pm fire appliances were called to the blaze, which had engulfed the body of the vehicle as it entered the junction.

Glenn Curtis, of Faringdon Road, was approaching the junction when he heard explosions and saw smoke from the fire filling the air. “We were in our car going home when we saw a huge plume of black smoke rising up through the trees and over Jury’s Inn. We came through the trees and saw all this thick, black smoke, so we could tell it was bad. When we got closer we could see flames coming out of the back by the tank. Glenn said there had only been a driver and one passenger on the bus, who had been lucky to escape with their lives. A couple had been waiting at the bus stop down the road to get on that bus, because it was the one to Oxford,” he added. “They were waiting with their kids in pushchairs. They said there were only two people on the bus, the driver and one lady sitting at the back. The lady jumped out of the back when she realised, and a van driver who had been going past jumped out of his van and pulled the bus driver out.

Claire Parker, Glenn’s partner, added: “It is just lucky that was not one of the school buses. All the windows are blown out, and the fire has burnt out the entire bus. This could have been a tragedy.” Ron Stone, 83, of Medgbury Road, said: “I heard two loud explosions from in my house. The first one was very loud, and the second one came soon after. They must have only been a minute or two apart. I looked out of my lounge window and could see black smoke rising into the sky.”

The rear of the bus was blown away and was spilling fluid out into the street. All the windows were smashed where firefighters had attempted to tackle the flames. It took no longer than half an hour for the flames to be extinguished, but road repairs are likely after the damage done to the surface. Traffic was diverted along Spring Gardens and other side streets, causing some gridlock around Fleming Way.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Fire and Rescue said: “Two crews, including one from Calne which was on standby at Drove Fire station, attended Fleming Way near to Halfords at around 4.40pm to reports of a bus well alight. The bus was running at the time but everyone on board made it off uninjured. The cause is likely to be a mechanical fault.” At the time of going to print, no one from Stagecoach was available to comment.

In brief

Overcrowding to be advertised Former transport minister Norman Baker wrote to operators urging them to publish overcrowding details on a train-by-train basis. This may help in the evening when commuters descend on stations such as Waterloo and Clapham Junction. It seems less likely to help in the more-concentrated morning peak. Passengers joining a train near the start of its journey will worry least about overcrowding, and SWT has changed information systems at stations from Barnes/New Malden to Vauxhall, so that passengers don’t know which train they are boarding and whether it is late.

Train operators profit from delayed and cancelled trains The 18 franchised rail companies were paid £136?million by Network Rail last year when infrastructure failings, including bad flooding during a winter wetter and colder than average, caused late and cancelled services. The train companies, however, paid out less than £30?million in ticket refunds to passengers.’ [Evening Standard 16/9/2013]

New timetable from 8 December 2013 Cross Country has announced that significant changes to its timetable will be confined to the Cardiff/Birmingham-Nottingham route. First Great Western’s token services on the Westbury-Trowbridge-Melksham-Chippenham-Swindon line are to be increased to 16 trains on Mondays-Saturdays and 11 on Sundays. The two direct Monday-Friday trains to Southampton (with none in the opposite direction) will continue.

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 Aldershot, Basingstoke, Bracknell, Clapham Junction, Earlsfield, Fareham, Fratton, Haslemere, Kingston, Portsmouth Harbour, Southampton Airport Parkway, Southampton Central, Staines, Surbiton, Vauxhall, Waterloo, Weybridge, Wimbledon and Woking, plus the Brockenhurst traverser.

Misleading SWT advertisement During August, computer users experienced an irritating SWT pop-up saying: “Any Saturday, any Sunday, anywhere we travel”. This was for return trips for a £14 flat-rate fare. Investigation established that “Any Saturday, any Sunday meant the 5 weekends from 3rd August to 1st September. “Anywhere we travel” meant the SWT area except popular destinations such as Bath, Bristol and Exeter. Presumably the very short period of the offer was seen as minimising the risk of a referral to the ASA.

SWT cancels trains for driver training Tweet to SWT: “What's with the shorter trains (4 carriages instead of the usual 8) on the Hounslow loop this afternoon?” Response: “This is due to driver training for the re-opening of the International terminal here at Waterloo, I am sorry for any inconvenience.”

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).