HOGRIDER 145 (OCTOBER-DECEMBER 2014) PART 1
This newsletter contains evidence-based reports, research and analysis from the South Hampshire Rail Users’ Group [SHRUG].
See our website [www.shrug.info] for a 15,000 word evidence-based history of SWT which records the views of Ministers, MPs, regulatory bodies, rail experts, user groups and individual passengers.
SWT approaches 20th year of failing passengers. How the disadvantages were compounded with each new franchise award
Victory for UKIP? Gung-ho days of franchising return as Stagecoach wins East Coast franchise while Rail Minister, other Conservative MPs and commuters critical of their appalling standards on SWT
Reliability on SWT: officially ‘cancelled’ trains still the tip of the iceberg as Stagecoach abandons peak timetable
Poor catering on SWT
A day ruined through lack of focus on passengers at Southampton
Ticket vending problems and lift failures on SWT (October-December)
SWT/Network Rail 'deep alliance' against passengers in action
Isle of Wight connectivity becomes a
Your chance to comment on the future of rail development in the Wessex area (Wessex Route Study)
The daily conflict of interest between Stagecoach directors protecting 150m shares worth over £500m and SWT passengers struggling to make over 200m journeys a year: a few voices of despair from Twitter
Virgin-Stagecoach contribution to National Customer Service Week
Stagecoach founding family's magic touch and charmed existence?
Fires and other serious incidents on Stagecoach buses
Stagecoach criticised by passengers for 'terrible' Farnborough to Camberley bus service
In Brief / Acknowledgements / Contact details
SWT approaches 20th year of failing passengers. How the disadvantages were compounded with each new franchise award
February 6 2015 will start the 20th year of Stagecoach franchises on South West Trains. Choice of Stagecoach revealed the gung-ho attitude of government to privatisation. Transport minister Steven Norris admitted: "Awarding the franchise to Stagecoach was really taking the fight to the enemy... It was the most aggressive decision we could take, and if we had tried to dress privatisation in its most acceptable form, it would have been better to award it to almost anyone else."
Stagecoach started by disposing of 125 middle managers and 21 drivers. The service collapsed and the timetable was reduced. Mr Norris lamented: “We in the Conservative party were very happy at the way rail privatisation was going … new investment, new ideas, new services … SWT instantly unwound all that. It was so obviously a grave error of judgement, so obviously to the disadvantage of passengers, and so clearly an act committed by a private company. It left a bad taste instantly in people’s mouths about SWT.” Passengers were lodging 500 complaints a week, and Stagecoach director Brian Cox opined that critics were 'fully paid-up members of the Hindsight Club'.
Despite the change of government in 1997, and SWT being the worst-performing train operator, Stagecoach was chosen for a 20-year second franchise in 2001, with the Guardian reporting that it had impressed the Strategic Rail Authority by its straightforward approach to the bidding process. Stagecoach Head of Rail, Graham Eccles, then told 'Rail Professional' that "For the big PR hit, what you do is add up guaranteed outputs, the primary aspirations and the secondary aspirations, and then you shout loudly". One regular SWT commuter told Paul Clifton, the BBC's transport correspondent, that "The award to Stagecoach is the cruellest betrayal of passengers departing from Southampton since the unsinkable Titanic set sail."
The Strategic Rail Authority's Strategic Report of January 2002 promised that longer platforms would be developed at Waterloo and 60 other stations between 2002 and 2005 to accommodate 10-car trains, and that it had agreed this with SWT. In addition, Stagecoach offered 'gold-plating' of track in the London area to maximise reliability.
SWT's performance remained abysmal. In May 2002, Transport Secretary Stephen Byers told Parliament: “I agree that the SWT franchise is not being operated as well as anybody would like. I want the SRA to use the franchise renewal as an opportunity to secure real improvements for the travelling public. The SRA must use the time over the next few months to negotiate an agreement with SWT – with Stagecoach Group PLC. If the SRA cannot negotiate a franchise renewal that puts the interests of the travelling public first, it will be prepared to seek a new franchise operator which will put the interests of the travelling public first, drive up standards and improve reliability".
The SRA, whose Chairman and Chief Executive Richard Bowker had close links with Stagecoach (for example, his father was a senior executive), reduced the second franchise from 20 years to just three. He presented this as "focusing on what matters to passengers - recovering performance to a level that passengers deserve and expect and the replacement of slam-door trains with the biggest new train order in the UK". Extension of platforms and gold-plating of track disappeared over the horizon. The new trains were obtained in a bargain-basement deal from Siemens and lack decent cushioning and even emergency ventilation. The Telegraph later commented that the franchise award to Stagecoach was the deal which 'pulled the company out of reverse gear, since when shares have trebled in value. It turned out to be a licence to print money.'
Scores more services were axed to help improve SWT's performance and in December 2004 a slower timetable was introduced with the same objective. SWT introduced a glossy anodyne magazine for its passengers and, in September 2004, announced it would blow it own trumpet with expenditure of £750,000 on cinema, TV and newspaper advertisements. The advertisements did not mention performance, perhaps because SWT's performance between April and June had been the worst of the ten operators serving London.
In 2006, Stagecoach was chosen for a third SWT franchise. This time it had made an unrealistic bid which exceeded those of its rivals by some £600m. While it does pay a substantial premium to government, the amount is substantially rebated because profits are below forecast. This builds on the remarkable generosity of the second franchise award. Stagecoach's 2014 annual report shows that the directors hold some 150,000,000 shares in their company. At current values, these are worth around £555,000,000. The two Stagecoach founders are jointly billionaires.
SWT is the quintessential example of the benefits from public funds trickling up to private service providers rather than down to service users. The disadvantages of each franchise are now compounded:
* Removal of middle management in the first franchise means that there is virtually no driver of quality in any aspect of customer service. Passengers tweet the same complaints about performance, staff and staffing, trains, stations, and so on day-after-day, month after month. Complaints are largely dealt with on an ad hoc basis, so the underlying problems remain.
* Reduction of the second franchise from 20 years to three years delayed longer platforms, longer suburban trains and gold-plating of track by over 10 years. There is now a huge capacity shortfall because SWT is incapable of running anything like a reliable service. Punctuality is abysmal. For the 4 weeks to 6 December 2014, mainline punctuality was just 77.6%, with a moving annual average of 87.1%, against the charter standard of 89%. For suburban services, it was 80.4%, with a moving annual average of 89.5%, against the charter standard of 92%. The proportion of scheduled trains actually operated is purportedly within charter standards. However, our monitoring of live running data shows that up to around 1,000 SWT services a month don't run their full route or call at all stations, and the loss of capacity through short formations equates to some 200-400 full-length trains per month.
Passengers are often not allowed time to squeeze on board trains, and watch as doors are slammed shut in their faces and staff yell at them to stand clear. If congestion builds up, trains are taken out of service and hundreds of passengers dumped on platforms in all weathers to await the next overcrowded train. Stops are removed on an ad hoc basis and passengers carried way past their destinations. If they complain on Twitter they get the response that this is the only way to avoid dangerous overcrowding. The word 'dangerous' is particularly damning in an industry which has achieved a proud safety record.
* The third franchise brought cuts in many areas of delivery which are important to passengers. SWT's 120 best-quality long-distance carriages were withdrawn to reduce leasing costs. Many stations are staffed during fewer hours and staffing is unreliable. Virtually all information offices have closed. Relay of live-running information is often poor or non-existent. Many off-peak tickets to London on Mondays to Fridays have soared in price along with station car parking charges. Trains are cleaned less. Many medium-distance services are operated by suburban stock with no toilets; passengers tweet about vomit and worse on train floors. Many long-distance services are operated by cramped outer-suburban stock. Revenue protection has become vicious, with SWT declaring that it will punish genuine mistakes and prosecute wherever possible.
In Stagecoach's 2013 annual report, Chief Executive Martin Griffiths wrote of a 4.2% operating margin that has 'low cash injected, meaning excellent returns on capital'. In the July 2014 issue of Rail Professional, no doubt with hope of winning the East Coast franchise, he states: “As passengers are at the heart of what we do, we know we must keep improving and investing, driving up the quality of services to respond to our customers’ needs.” Rather odd, seeing he had so recently boasted of low investment? SWT's cost to the economy from lost working hours, unreliability, and a stressed workforce must be enormous.
Victory for UKIP? Gung-ho days of franchising return as Stagecoach wins East Coast franchise while Rail Minister, other Conservative MPs and commuters critical of their appalling standards on SWT
The gung-ho days of franchising returned on 27/11/2014 when DfT announced that it was handing the East Coast main line to a consortium in which Stagecoach has a 90% interest and Virgin Trains just 10%. The Virgin share avoids Stagecoach having to run the franchise under its own name, presumably because of its dreadful record on SWT. The blow for passengers was the more cruel because the press was awash with rumours that DfT favoured the Eurostar/Keolis bid. Railway Magazine even stated that this bid had reportedly won. Since this kind of speculation almost invariably proves correct, we can only wonder whether, for example, transport ministers were overruled by No.10's desire to avoid being chided by UKIP for not franchising to a British business, however ethically-limited that business might be.
Demonstrating Stagecoach's customary scorn for fact, Chief Executive Martin Griffiths had declared that "A passion for customers, employees and the community is at the heart of our plans for the [East Coast] franchise. We want to build on the quality and pride of the people who will be joining our team." What passion for customers? East Coast was being run excellently in the public sector. Governments have not handed a public sector railway to Stagecoach since the initial franchising of SWT, an operation which has produced a compound disaster for passengers, as above.
So what does the East Coast franchise promise? First, a huge premium for government, paid from money which Stagecoach will grab from passengers. Secondly, the possibility of a growing range of limited services between Kings Cross and towns off the core route. This would effectively see off open access operators who have been achieving the best passenger satisfaction scores on the national network.
The market appears to have no confidence in Stagecoach's ability to deliver, meaning it is likely to enjoy more revenue support at public expense. The value of the Stagecoach directors' shares increased by £37m in the week ending with the franchise award, but this gain was quickly wiped out.
The East Coast franchise award is the more shocking because Stagecoach's failings on SWT had recently been highlighted in the press in quite graphic terms:
Evening Standard, 29.10.2014
"Commuters ‘treated like cash cows riding in sub-cattle class’
London commuters are being treated as “cash cows” while they are forced to travel in “sub-cattle class” conditions, Parliament was being told today. Senior Conservative backbencher Dominic Raab claimed passengers on one franchise, South West Trains, had been forced to pay more than £1 billion in four years to subsidise other lines. He argued that the busy route was becoming increasingly overcrowded. “I know first-hand how packed the carriages are,” the MP for Esher and Walton was to tell a Commons debate. “Occasionally, it’s impossible even to get on the train.”
Highlighting reports that EU rules on transportation of calves, goats and sheep mean they get more space than passengers on some peak services into the capital, he was due to urge ministers to explain what was being done to ensure a “fairer deal” for SWT users. He was set to add that they “feel quite literally as if they are treated like a cash cow, despite travelling in sub-cattle class conditions”.
Mr Raab believes “acute overcrowding” is a serious problem for at least half an hour during the morning peak. He claimed that in 2013-14, SWT passengers paid the Department of Transport the highest overall premium for their rail service, at 5.2p per passenger per kilometre. “Over the four years to 2013-14, SWT passengers have effectively coughed up the largest subsidy to government coffers, of any train company, totalling just over £1 billion,” he was due to say. He urged the Government to give more information on increasing the number of platforms at Waterloo, the introduction of longer trains, and a commitment to Crossrail 2.
A spokeswoman for the South West Trains- Network Rail Alliance said: “Commuter fares are entirely set by the Government.” She added that more than £300 million is being invested to provide extra space on the network. A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Over the next four years there will be more than 250 new carriages on the SWT franchise.”"
Response from SHRUG's co-ordinator - Evening Standard 30.10.2014
""Sub-cattle class" conditions exist on South West Trains primarily because Stagecoach won the franchise by bidding more than its rivals and quickly ending the lease on its 120 best-quality carriages. This hasn't even been a win for taxpayers as the company then started to receive substantial rebates from government because profits were below forecast. Meanwhile, Stagecoach shares are performing well; its annual report shows £150 million of them are held by directors. In the circumstances, it seems worrying that Stagecoach has a 90% stake in the Virgin Trains' bid to run the East Coast mainline services, which are now very good."
Response from Lucie - Evening Standard 03.11.2014
"I commute on South West Trains. I experience so many problems with the service, I'm going to start a daily diary. Last Wednesday, the carriage was so overcrowded and noisy that I almost fainted; earlier in the week a woman collapsed as we were approaching Woking and was taken away in an ambulance. I am forever running late for work, despite giving myself a whole hour's grace. South West Trains should be ashamed."
Response from Laura Clarke of Richmond - Evening Standard 04.11.2014
"For the second time in a week, commuters arrived at Waterloo last night to chaos; most trains delayed or cancelled. No information. No trains stopping at Richmond. I caught a train to several stops before mine and walked home for 40 minutes on one of the year's coldest nights so far. My husband arrived home three hours late. The reason finally given? "Dangerous overcrowding". Most trains seem to be "dangerously overcrowded" but we're still forced to endure them. You owe us a bit better South West Trains - hang your head in shame." Southern Daily Echo, 01.11.2014
The Echo reported Rail Minister Claire Perry as admitting that the target that passengers should not stand longer than 20 minutes was not always met on SWT. She also stated that it was "unacceptable" that people were unable to board trains on commuter routes because they were already full.
Caroline Dinenage, MP for Gosport, protested about London trains that suffered from "slow journey times, on a 1930s infrastructure and eye-watering prices". She pointed out that the journey from London to Portsmouth takes the same time as the journey from London to Doncaster, which is two and a half times as far.
Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, said that commuters were paying more for what they see as a worse service. One of her commuters had said they would accept consistently increasing prices if the quality of the service improved but that is not the case currently.
Response from SHRUG's co-ordinator - Southern Daily Echo 05.11.2014
"Overcrowding exists on South West Trains (SWT) primarily because Stagecoach won the franchise by bidding more than its rivals and quickly ending the lease on its 120 best-quality carriages.
The company then started to receive substantial rebates from Government because profits were below forecast. Presumably the expected profit levels were based on even higher passenger numbers, so comfort was never an issue.
The final British Rail timetable had weekday departures from Waterloo to Southampton every 20 minutes, the three services per hour taking 69, 79 and 84 minutes. Current times are 74, 77 and 93 minutes. A similar service pattern on the Waterloo-Portsmouth route had trains taking 81, 85 and 98 minutes. They now take 88, 92 and 119 minutes.
SWT now operates some of the worst services in the south-east. The normal journey time from Waterloo to Totton has increased by 25 minutes, and from Totton to New Milton and Christchurch it has roughly doubled. On Mondays to Fridays there is no train from Southampton to Eastleigh between 07.38 and 08.35.
Meanwhile, Stagecoach shares are performing well; its annual report shows that directors hold £150 million of them."
Dissenting subjective views
In Issue 760 of RAIL, columnist Barry Doe offered 'subjective' rankings of the passenger train operators which largely turned the results of passenger surveys upside down. Editor Nigel Harris turned much of Issue 763 into a kind of Hooray Henry report of the Stagecoach East Coast win. despite having commendably penned trenchant criticisms of Stagecoach's behaviour on SWT in the past. We fully respect people's right to express personal views. However, it is unclear why Mr Doe and Mr Harris think they are right and huge numbers of commuters are wrong day after day. They should explain.
In comparable vein, SWT's website reports that 'Management Today' asked Britain’s largest public companies to rate their peers using nine measures on a scale of zero to 10. Criteria include financial soundness, community and environmental responsibility, value as a long-term investment, quality of goods and services, use of corporate assets, quality of marketing, innovation, ability to attract, develop and retain top talent, and quality of management.
This subjective exercise saw Stagecoach rated Britain's most admired public transport group. It's unclear whether this was based on:
* the Stagecoach Chairman's belief that "ethics are not irrelevant but
some are incompatible with what we have to do because capitalism is based on
* the billion-pound fortune amassed by himself and his sister;
* his declaration that he would rather take poison than operate the passenger-focused bus services which Tyneside wants;
* Stagecoach's consistently abysmal performance and passenger ratings on SWT; or
* some or all of these.
It's remarkable how fiction can be spun when huge amounts of first-hand evidence are ignored. Remember SWT's e-motion magazine? - for details, see our 'History of SWT' on www.shrug.info. Like our History, this newsletter will continue to be evidence-based.
Reliability on SWT: officially ‘cancelled’ trains still the tip of the iceberg as Stagecoach abandons peak timetable
SWT's performance figures for 'preceding 52 week' periods have shown punctuality targets missed but 'reliability' targets exceeded. A footnote on SWT's website explains that 'reliability' means: 'Percentage of the advertised train service actually operated (Monday to Friday all day)'.
The following table illustrates how trains 'actually operated' represent only a fraction of the capacity lost both through stop-skipping to mitigate the punctuality statistics, and through failure to run full-length trains, particularly at peak times.
The figures are from snapshot sampling of SWT’s live running data. Whilst they do not represent the full numbers of trains in each category, the samples are very substantial and the proportionality should be statistically valid for illustrative purposes. Full details of the relevant trains are in Part 2 of this newsletter. See www.shrug.info.
Since July, a month of particularly wretched performance, it is clear that Stagecoach is disadvantaging its long-suffering passengers even more by stepping up 'stop-skipping'. Whereas seriously delayed trains were already omitting a succession of stops, slightly delayed or short-formed services are also now omitting even a single stop. Twitter revealed that passengers were continuing to be carried past their stops where onboard announcements about cancelled stops were not made or were inaudible.
At worst, they may then be threatened with fines for travelling past their station: Part of Twitter conversation on 15.9.2014: "Why didn't the train stop at Hersham or Esher? We've had shorter trains before? What makes it worse is you guys have the audacity to try and fine us at Walton!?! Why didn't the train stop?" [SWT response: "This is to try and control how busy the train gets, even 4 carriages short can result in dangerous overcrowding. I will get a message out to our revenue team."] "No need, I gave the rude ******** the message!"
Illustrative table of SWT's true unreliability (data sampled on the number of days shown)
July 2014 (31 days)
August 2014 (31 days)
September 2014 (26 days)
October 2014 (25 days)
November 2014 (30 days)
December 2014 (29 days)
Whole train equivalents of missing carriages.
Trains not making all scheduled stops
Poor catering on SWT
"I am travelling from King's Cross to Leeds (journey time 2hrs 11mins) on East Coast Trains and I have just enjoyed a Hot Pulled Pork Brioche Sub (£4) and a hot cup of Yorkshire Tea (£1.95) from the Foodbar on board the train, well presented by smart, cheerful buffet car staff.
Had I been travelling earlier in the day, I could have enjoyed porridge (£1.85) followed by a hot bacon panini (£4) for breakfast.
What are we offered on South West Trains between Poole and Waterloo (journey time around 2hrs 10 mins)? Nothing hot apart from tea, coffee and chocolate from a catering trolley which, if you are lucky, has not run out of hot water before it eventually reaches your seat!
East Coast Trains prices and menu were correct on my day of travel, December 19th 2014."
A day ruined through lack of focus on passengers at Southampton
"Today, 22nd October, I wanted to go to Buckfastleigh but the 08.48 from Ashurst appeared at 09.03 and arrived at Southampton just as the 09.10 to Bristol left. So now impossible to do the day trip, which is a nuisance as I have paid for a ticket. Will now cut my losses and go to Exeter instead! Another appalling example of non-cooperation between train companies." David Mead.
Ticket vending problems and lift failures on SWT (October-December)
Over 70 SWT ticket offices reported as closed during opening hours
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 Addlestone, Aldershot, Ascot, Bedhampton, Bentley, Bookham, Branksome, Brockenhurst, Byfleet & New Haw, Christchurch, Cosham, Datchet, Dorchester, Earlsfield, Eastleigh, Effingham Junction, Esher, Ewell West, Farnborough, Farncombe, Fleet, Gillingham, Godalming, Guildford, Hampton, Hampton Court, Hamworthy, Havant, Hedge End, Hersham, Hinton Admiral, Honiton, Horsley, Hounslow, Kempton Park, Liphook, Lymington Town, Milford, Moreton, Mortlake, New Milton, Norbiton, Oxshott, Parkstone, Petersfield, Pokesdown, Poole, Portsmouth & Southsea, Portsmouth Harbour, Raynes Park, Rowlands Castle, St Denys, St Margaret's, Shepperton, Sherborne, Southampton Airport, Sunningdale, Swanwick, Sway, Templecombe, Virginia Water, Walton-on-Thames, Wandsworth Town, Wareham, West Byfleet, Weybridge, Weymouth, Winchfield, Windsor, Winnersh, Woking, Wool, Woolston and Worplesdon.
Ticket machines reported as failed at over 50 SWT stations
Ticket vending machines are as unreliable as ticket office opening hours on SWT. They have been advertised as out of action at Addlestone, Ascot, Ashford, Ashurst, Axminster, Bagshot, Barnes Bridge, Bookham, Byfleet & New Haw, Chertsey, Chessington North, Clapham Junction, Cosham, Crewkerne, Datchet, Earley, Effingham Junction, Esher, Farnham, Feniton, Frimley, Grateley, Hampton, Hampton Court, Hedge End, Hinchley Wood, Holton Heath, London Road, Micheldever, Oxshott, Pokesdown, Poole, Portchester, Putney, Raynes Park, Shepperton, Sholing, Staines, Sunnymeads, Swanwick, Sway, Syon Lane, Templecombe, Upper Halliford, Upwey, Virginia Water, Wanborough, Whimple, Whitchurch, Wimbledon, Winnersh, Woolston and Wraysbury.
It is clear from Twitter, and from reports that we receive, that the real position on both offices and machines is even worse and that SWT is so poorly staffed that it often doesn't know of the problems until passengers tell them..
Mobility-impaired passengers beware; lift failures reported at over 20 SWT stations
Lift failures (in some cases prolonged and/or repeated), a major problem for disabled people, have occurred at Axminster, Basingstoke, Bracknell, Brentford, Brockenhurst, Clapham Junction, Earlsfield, Fareham, Feltham, Haslemere, Havant, Kingston, Moreton, New Malden, Portchester, Portsmouth & Southsea, Putney, Staines, Surbiton, Weybridge, Wimbledon, Winchester and Worcester Park.
SWT/Network Rail 'deep alliance' against passengers in action
* From SWT's website (Note the lack of apology; lack of concern for the impact on passengers; and the train reporting numbers which are likely to be meaningless to most passengers. In addition the line through Clapham Junction is not particularly fast at any time):
"A 20mph speed restriction is in place on one of our lines through Clapham Junction Station. This will affect trains that run through Platform 9 in the direction away from London on Monday 06 October.
Engineers are planning to undertake remedial work on Monday night to lift the speed restriction. The reduction in speed on this line means we have had to make amendments to some trains as there will be an impact to their scheduled times caused by the speed restriction.
The following train amendments will take place on Monday 6th October:
1P52 - 15:15 Portsmouth Harbour to Waterloo will terminate at Guildford.
2P53 - 17:15 Waterloo to Fratton will start at Guildford.
1L54 - 15:47 Salisbury to Waterloo will terminate at Basingstoke.
1L55 - 17:50 Waterloo to Yeovil Junction will start at Basingstoke.
Customers who need to make the connection at Basingstoke with 1L55 are to be advised to travel on 1B93 - 17:48 Waterloo to Southampton Central and change at Basingstoke.
1T58 - 15:59 Portsmouth Harbour to Waterloo will terminate at Basingstoke.
2L95 - 18:23 Waterloo to Basingstoke will be cancelled."
* Note also this entry on the website on 20/10/2014. A single minute's delay would have been easily recoverable, given SWT's slack scheduling:
"07:42 London Waterloo to Shepperton due 08:33. This train is being delayed from London Waterloo and is now expected to be 1 minute late. This train will no longer call at Vauxhall, Clapham Junction, Earlsfield, Wimbledon, Raynes Park and New Malden. This is due to a delay on a previous journey."
Isle of Wight connectivity becomes a government concern
From the Daily Echo 15.10.2014 (For background, see the previous issue of this newsletter on www.shrug.info)
"A GOVERNMENT minister will lead a review of poor transport links to the Isle of Wight after protests were raised in Parliament.
John Hayes, the transport minister, agreed to act after those links – in particular, the running of the ferry companies – was described as a “a real danger to the Island’s economy”.
Mr Hayes said the taskforce would seek to:
* Help Isle of Wight council develop a plan to improve transport
* Better co-ordinate bus and train services with ferry departures and arrivals.
* Encourage ferry companies Wightlink and Red Funnel to improve information to passengers, so they take advantage of discounts.
* Examine the “long-term transport needs of the Island’s residents and visitors”.
Answering a Commons debate, Mr Hayes said: “It would be my pleasure to host the review. It would have to be done with a bottom-up approach, led by those who know best – those who deliver the services and those who know the needs of the Island. It is only by working together that businesses and local government can ensure that funding decisions made by central government have the relevant impact in meeting local peoples’ needs.”
However, Mr Hayes offered no clues about when the taskforce would first meet, or by when any recommendations would be made or acted upon. The pledge came after Island MP Andrew Turner said a taskforce was badly needed to establish a “viable, long-term outcome for Island Line”, the Island’s rail services. However, the Conservative MP stressed the biggest problem was the cost and convenience of ferries which were a “lifeline” to residents. He said: “The ownership model of the ferry companies represents a real danger to the Island’s economy, because the ferries are small cogs in larger businesses. They are expected to achieve profitable growth to enhance their market value. However, that would burden the companies with even more debt on which interest must be paid from the fares. It is a totally unacceptable model for businesses with weak competition offering lifeline services.” "
Your chance to comment on the future of rail development in the Wessex area (Wessex Route Study)
The rail industry is consulting on the future of rail development priorities for Wessex 2019-2024, and longer term thinking to 2043. The consultation can be found on SWT's website: Home page > Latest News > 21.11.2014. The consultation period runs to 18.2.2015. The study is substantial and detailed.
Some tentative draft comments on the Study are below; we would be grateful for any suggestions, amendments, additions etc. by 8.2.2015.
We are grateful for the opportunity to comment on the Wessex Route Study. The expansion of rail activity in Wessex will be vitally important to the region's economy, environment and social wellbeing. The study is commendably detailed, though the high technical content and industry jargon may be difficult for people with a very limited knowledge of the industry to assimilate. Some of the proposed long-term service enhancements look unrealistic without substantial infrastructure improvements in the Southampton and Portsmouth areas which would otherwise seem to run the risk of becoming worse bottlenecks than at present.
Timescales - early wins?
As the study confirms, there is already a serious capacity deficit in the region. To a considerable extent this arises from failure or delay in implementing objectives identified in the Strategic Rail Authority's Strategic Plan of January 2002. Such objectives included:
* Longer platforms developed at Waterloo and 60 other stations between 2002 and 2005 to accommodate 10-car trains. This was purported to have been agreed between the SRA and SWT, so was presumably delayed when the second SWT franchise was reduced from 20 years to three through unacceptable performance. The operator's promises of 'gold plating' of track in the London area where the infrastructure, and hence the service, now collapses day after day similarly disappeared.
* The west bay (formerly platform 5) at Southampton Central to be returned to use in 2004-05.
* A half-hourly service seven days a week between Portsmouth Harbour and Bristol Temple Meads by 2005-06.
* Infrastructure changes at Worthing Central to allow fast trains to overtake slow trains (potentially facilitating the acceleration and increase of services from Brighton to Hampshire and beyond).
Quite apart from the capacity deficit on Waterloo commuter services, the Southampton-Portsmouth area desperately needs more attractive passenger services now. A report commissioned by the previous Minister for Portsmouth identified rail connectivity in the Solent area as a prime aspiration, yet no proposals evolved, and timetables which improved incrementally during half a century of post-steam operation now appear set in stone.
Given past delays and current shortcomings, some quick wins, alongside longer-term objectives, are highly desirable. Proposals to convert the class 442 Wessex Electric trains to diesel sets with class 43 power cars could provide higher capacity for the Portsmouth Harbour-Cardiff Central service which can suffer from severe overcrowding.
Just one such set would allow the Southampton-Newcastle service to increase from two-hourly to hourly (the trains already run as far south as Reading). These trains have an advantage over the Bournemouth-Manchester service in that they provide good 'same-platform' connections to and from Portsmouth Harbour at Winchester. If necessary a few additional container trains might be diverted via Westbury to provide the paths.
Other uses might be more Brighton-Bristol trains (as proposed in the current study) or Bournemouth-Bristol services (Great Western reportedly has running rights from Southampton Central to Poole from 2017) allowing Bournemouth passengers to travel to the West Country with a single change at Salisbury or Westbury.
Southern's Victoria-Gatwick Airport-Southampton service could be restored through to Bournemouth, one of Britain's few resorts of international status. The SRA cut the service back from Bournemouth to Southampton (causing further congestion at Southampton Central during turnarounds), despite proven demand for the through service, in order to help SWT gain an acceptable level of performance.
The Brighton-Southampton service could continue to Eastleigh, providing hourly direct services between Brighton and Southampton Airport, and improving the poor service between Southampton and Eastleigh. Although Eastleigh is Southampton's major satellite town, there is now no train from Southampton to Eastleigh on Mondays to Fridays between 07.38 and 08.35.
The Portsmouth-Southampton line currently has about the worst inter-urban service in the South East. It is hard to believe that an additional hourly service could not be incorporated. Both the Botley and Netley routes already accommodate extra trains during planned and ad hoc diversions arising from infrastructure failures or maintenance.
Commuters pay considerable sums to travel to work in London yet often have to stand for an hour or longer even when the service is fully operated, which it virtually never has been in the past year. In addition, it is extraordinary that SWT is allowed to design for more severe overcrowding (4 standing passengers per square metre) than other train operators. In conjunction these factors have social consequences (impact on health and family life) and economic consequences (a tired work force).
Whether or not the service is fully operated at a particular time, delays are endemic, leading to an unreliable workforce and lost working hours. In total the social and economic costs of performance shortcomings in the Wessex area must be enormous. It would be useful if these could be quantified both for illustrative purposes and to strengthen the case for investment even more.
Basing passenger satisfaction solely on the NRPS data is misleading, since passengers are asked to rate the journey they have just made. This has little relevance for commuters who need a satisfactory journey every day. There is also little point in making comparisons with the ratings of other operators. SWT consistently performs poorly and it is no consolation to its passengers if some of their counterparts on other networks are marginally even less satisfied.
Part of the capacity shortfall is hidden in statistics. It is clear that punctuality is abysmal. For the 4 weeks to 6 December 2014, SWT mainline punctuality was just 77.6%, with a moving annual average of 87.1%, against the charter standard of 89%. For suburban services, punctuality was 80.4%, with a moving annual average of 89.5%, against the charter standard of 92%. The proportion of scheduled trains actually operated is purportedly within charter standards. However, our monitoring of live running data shows that up to around 1,000 SWT services a month haven't been running their full route or making all scheduled stops, and the loss of capacity through short formations has been equating to some 200-400 full-length trains per month.
Clarity of outcomes
The clarity of the projected medium and long-term outcomes is noticeably uneven. Residents in the London suburban area can expect improved capacity and reasonable service levels in any event. Outside this area, choice of infrastructure enhancements and timetable options could have widely varying effects and rail users cannot guess how far particular options might meet their travel needs. It would therefore be useful to append some illustrative hourly service patterns based on a range of assumptions.
This problem can be illustrated historically. The final British Rail timetable had weekday departures from Waterloo to Southampton every 20 minutes, the three services per hour taking 69, 79 and 84 minutes. Current times are 74, 77 and 93 minutes. Although one of the three trains is now two minutes faster, this involved removing a stop at the important and fast-growing town of Eastleigh. A similar service pattern on the Waterloo-Portsmouth route had trains taking 81, 85 and 98 minutes. They now take 88, 92 and 119 minutes.
From the 2007 timetable, the standard-hour service at Totton, the fourth largest town between Southampton and Weymouth, was cut by 60%. The 'standard-hour' journey time from Waterloo to Totton increased by 25 minutes, and from Totton to New Milton and Christchurch it roughly doubled. Data from the Office of Rail Regulation show that entries and exits at Totton station increased by almost 118,000 (71.7%) in the five years before the change, more than at any other station between Southampton and Weymouth except Bournemouth, Poole and Brockenhurst. In the following five years it broadly stagnated. It is vital to avoid wasting public funds on such unattractive and disadvantageous scheduling if rail use is to be maximised.
Overcrowding can only be exacerbated by the rate of house-building in the Wessex area. Much of this is concentrated along the already overcrowded routes between Waterloo, Portsmouth and Southampton. There appears to be a lack of joined-up thinking which allows blocks of new flats, advertised as commuter-friendly, to mushroom close to overstretched rail services at places such as Basingstoke and Woking. The problem may accelerate further with the recent revival of the nineteen sixties' concept of merging Southampton and Portsmouth into a Solent City.
Such dense populations mean profits for house builders and rail operators, but severe discomfort for passengers paying huge sums to commute. The proposal for further deployment of carriages with 2+3 seating on long-distance main line services to help address capacity shortfall on suburban services is shocking. Fifty years ago, BR introduced the prototype XP64 carriage which was designed on ergonomic principles for passenger comfort and has influenced the design of long-distance carriages ever since.
There are other means of increasing capacity, such as converting first class coaches to standard class, and reducing off-peak fares to increase incentives to travel outside the peak. When the current SWT franchise was awarded, the government announcement "expected" reduced season ticket fares in the shoulder peak. This was ignored in the quest for increased profits.
Timetable development outside the outer-suburban area
Long-distance timetable development needs to take better account of demographic change. There has been a tendency for established residents to move out of the urban areas to medium-sized towns like Totton. At the same time a reverse flow is developing. Some urban areas have seen big influxes of both students and workers from other EU member states, and there is a trend towards constructing luxury accommodation within city centres.
Overall, therefore, the demand for rail travel in the region is, and is likely to remain, neither concentrated nor uniform. Faster inter-urban journeys have been achieved in the past and should be restored and improved even further, though not beyond a point where other significant markets are neglected or disadvantaged. For example, stations between Southampton and Bournemouth could be served by portions off fast services from Waterloo to Southampton, Bournemouth and beyond as currently happens in the commuting peak. This would provide a much more attractive service than the ludicrously slow Waterloo-Poole off-peak service, with its long layovers at Southampton Central and Brockenhurst.
2043 passenger service specification
The proposed operation through Southampton Airport Parkway (3-5 trains per hour to Waterloo; an hourly service to both Manchester and Hull; an hourly service to Paddington via Heathrow; the Salisbury-Romsey local service; plus 4 freight trains) is ambitious, even with the proposed lengths of extra track. However, in the case of the Waterloo trains, there have been 15-minute and 20-minute shuttle services on the Southampton line in the past. The current impoverished service appears to be a by-product of re-organising SWT mainline services to provide a 15-minute shuttle from Waterloo to serve the significant first class market at Haslemere.
The Government's strategies for airports are not yet final, but in principle the proposed direct service to Heathrow would be a particularly welcome enhancement. This could perhaps be configured to continue to Stansted via Crossrail.
It is unclear why the current two-hourly weekday service between Southampton and Newcastle (with a token daily extension to Edinburgh) via Doncaster and York would be replaced by an hourly service to Hull. Is there evidence to support the case for concentrating services on Hull, when York / Newcastle / Edinburgh are all major rail hubs and high-demand destinations?
Some Cross Country services have already had their journey times extended by one hour through re-routeing via Newcastle instead of Preston to protect revenue on the West Coast franchise. Has re-routeing Southampton trains off the East Coast main line to Hull been conceived simply to protect revenue on the East Coast franchise?
The long-proposed hourly link between Southampton Airport Parkway and Brighton (currently just a token service), to serve a large and established demand for improved access to the airport from the east, is noticeably absent. Has this been abandoned because dual-voltage trains would be needed if the Eastleigh-St Denys section lost the live rail?
The total of four freight trains, two Cross Country trains, two local services and one Paddington via Heathrow train every hour between Basingstoke and Reading looks unrealistic, even with a flyover at Basingstoke. These services will mix with Paddington services from Newbury and the West of England at Reading West, creating a substantial bottleneck. A further flyover at Reading West or additional tracks look highly desirable, and probably essential.
Capacity options in the suburban area
The options for infrastructure enhancements such as additional tracks and a Woking flyover (discussed for decades) are clearly essential to meet passenger growth. Double-decker trains also merit consideration. However, these are always considered to need longer station dwell times for loading and unloading. Twitter regularly exposes an unacceptable situation on SWT whereby doors are shut in the faces of boarding, and even alighting, commuters to allow trains to depart punctually. Double-decker trains would therefore seem more suited to outer-suburban limited-stop services.
Crossrail 2 (the proposed tunnel link between some SWT and north-east London suburban services services via Clapham Junction, Victoria and Euston) would be strategically desirable even if it had simply been conceived as a means of relieving the Underground's Victoria Line. There would clearly be a potential capacity gain for Wessex if some SWT suburban branch services could be diverted away from Waterloo.
Additional turn-back facilities can be useful for increasing services over parts of routes with particularly high passenger demand, but can disadvantage passengers by encouraging operators to turn back trains short of their scheduled destinations. For example, the revised layout through Havant station was presented as making services more reliable, but seems only to facilitate turning back delayed trains before they reach Portsmouth, worsening reliability for the dumped passengers.
One crucial issue which would need to be addressed is interchange flows at Clapham Junction. Huge numbers of passengers change there between Victoria and Waterloo services. Crossrail 2 would increase the proportion of trains heading to or through Victoria and decrease the proportion heading to Waterloo. This raises issues about capacity between Clapham Junction and Waterloo, particularly given the regeneration of the South Bank and ease of transferring by foot between Waterloo and the southern entrance to Blackfriars stations, for Thameslink services towards Bedford and prospectively Cambridge.
Stops at Clapham Junction by mainline peak SWT trains are a longstanding commuter aspiration. With some suburban trains funnelled into Crossrail 2, it would seem highly desirable to allocate additional platforms there for SWT mainline services to call. This would create more capacity between Clapham Junction and Waterloo by removing the need for many commuters to travel to or from Waterloo on mainline services and then retrace their journeys on suburban trains.
Turning to freight operations, Southampton is the second largest container port in Britain, and its success has strategic importance nationally as well as locally. Creditably, the proportion of container movements in the area which travels by rail has increased to some 36 per cent. However, the area around the container terminals is seriously affected by road traffic congestion and pollution. The latter has been monitored and health warnings issued at times of greatest risk. As with passenger traffic, the case for investment in rail freight seems clear-cut. Movement of containers by rail should be maximised.
The proposed AC electrification of the lines from Basingstoke to Salisbury via both Andover and Salisbury is welcome for environmental reasons, including eradication of diesel trains under the Waterloo roof. The long platforms at Salisbury might accommodate trains of twelve 23-metre coaches from London if certain mainline platforms could be extended at Waterloo.
That leaves the Salisbury-Exeter line diesel operated. The West of England now has no direct services to anywhere south of the Salisbury-Waterloo route. Some journeys, such as Bournemouth-Plymouth are remarkably circuitous or involve multiple changes. The routes west of Salisbury might therefore be served by a raft of services between Brighton/Portsmouth/Bournemouth, via Southampton and Salisbury, to Bristol/Cardiff/Plymouth, so that most journeys in that regional axis could be made with no more than one change of train. The longstanding idea of running Weymouth-Bristol services in and out of Yeovil Junction, providing connections with Salisbury-Exeter line services also appears worthy of consideration.
Turning to freight, it is clearly sensible to have two electrified routes available between the Southampton container terminals and Basingstoke, but there appears to be no alternative route available between Basingstoke and Reading. Are the freight operators expected to maintain their modern fleets of diesel locomotives just for when Basingstoke-Reading is closed through train or infrastructure failures or for routine engineering work? This would seem to have implications for the economics of container traffic. The alternatives might be dual-voltage electric locomotives operating via Chertsey and Kew, providing the live rail could provide sufficient power, or early infill electrification between Salisbury and Chippenham/Bath. The latter would also enable electric passenger train operation between the South Coast and Bristol/Cardiff.
Portsmouth and Southampton - grasping the nettle on capacity
The proposed capacity improvements, such as additional tracks and flyovers, are clearly essential to the level of growth anticipated in the Study. An expanded Southampton Central station would also help operationally. In any case, this station is in a very poor state and generally has poor facilities.
That said, the current congestion, conflicting movements and delays in the Southampton and Portsmouth areas suggest that, notwithstanding such enhancements, the very substantial increase in passenger services envisaged in the Study needs something more radical. In addition, health and environmental considerations suggest that every container which can travel reasonably economically by rail from Southampton should do so, further increasing capacity pressures.
Portsmouth suffers not only from rail congestion, but can be cut off from the national network for extensive periods by a single train failure. What is needed is a 4-track railway southwards from the triangular junction east of Cosham station, so that trains via Fareham can access Portsmouth & Southsea independently of trains via Havant. Ideally the 4-tracks should extend through to Portsmouth Harbour station, given the ferry links to Gosport (Britain's largest rail-less town) and the Isle of Wight.
Southampton needs a 4-track railway throughout from Central station to Redbridge to facilitate the movement of container trains alongside the wide range of passenger services. It also needs a tunnel from Central station to Woolston. This would shorten the route to Portsmouth via Netley. A rail river crossing to Woolston was discussed in the nineteen seventies when the Itchen road bridge was built, while proposals to convert the Netley line to rapid transport would have seen trams actually crossing the bridge. With a shortened route, the Woolston-St Denys line could be abandoned, or retained as a link to Northam train depot (use comparable with the old St Enoch approach lines in Glasgow).
Portsmouth already has reasonable services at local stations, but this radical expansion of capacity at Southampton could facilitate operation of a limited metro service such as is being developed in the Bristol area, covering such population centres as Romsey, Winchester, Fareham, Totton and Hythe.
Given that Wessex is one of the most heavily-trafficked sectors of the national rail network, investment should be proportionate.
The proposals are generally welcome, but need further thinking. In particular it is doubtful whether the proposed infrastructure improvements would sustain the service increases, particularly around Southampton and Portsmouth and between Basingstoke and Reading.
Traffic flows in central London need closer consideration.
Greater clarity is needed on timetabling outside the London suburban area to see how communities can best be served in both the major and medium-sized towns and cities.
Rolling stock should be fit for purpose. Simply cramming passengers to increase profits when fares are often uncompetitive should not be an option. Improvements to the road network will mean rail has to be more attractive to maintain demand.
The daily conflict of interest between Stagecoach directors protecting 150m shares worth over £500m and SWT passengers struggling to make over 200m journeys a year: a few voices of despair from Twitter
SWT’s Twitter facility provides information, apologises endlessly, and refers people to Customer Services who, if they are lucky, will send an often unhelpful reply weeks later. 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. Disabled people may be refused assistance or even told to seek help from other passengers. It must all be pretty depressing for decent members of staff as well.
What is particularly noticeable on Twitter is the virtual absence of any promise to improve the treatment of passengers. Some excerpts for October-December, with small grammatical corrections, are below.
Priceless SWT-speak (October)
Poor customer service at Raynes Park. Told I was lying that the machines are all out due to power failure. Not good. [SWT response: Our staff are aware about the problems at Raynes Park, what happened?] Sign on machines to use other entrance to top up. They are all out, so asked how I top up. Told to use other machines and that I was lying that they were all out as well.
Had to buy a 1st class ticket as train crew didn't turn up to work, Portsmouth train only 5 cars, and I've just had foot surgery. [SWT response: Thanks for your feedback, we are continuing to get the service right for our customers.]
It is now 21 working days since my e'mail. You have still not replied. It is national customer service week and you have failed. [SWT response: Hi, usually responses land into the junk mail folder, might be worth checking there.]
How about you open the barriers at Waterloo when your service is running late to speed up getting to work? [SWT response: Unfortunately we are unable to do this as this may encourage fare evaders.] So punish the customer for the sake of a few tickets. Barriers at either end now aren't there? [SWT response: The barriers help our customers and staff, and encourage safer travel through our stations and on our trains.] What?! How?
[SWT tweet: Today is the final day to help us raise awareness of customer service and the vital role it plays.] Oh, do you not care about it next week?! [SWT response: Customer service is very important to us and we are contacting seeking to improve the quality of our service.] Punctuality, capacity and polite staff should really go without saying though, don't you agree? [Second caller: I'm constantly seeking a pot of gold. Our efforts are equally successful.]
I understand the delay but I don't understand why a train was sitting there not letting us on, followed by our next train being delayed 20 minutes. [SWT response: It had to run what we call empty to form another train on time, it's part of service recovery after an incident like this.]
If there's a queue to get on and the policy is to leave 30 seconds early, perhaps let people on and leave at advertised time. [SWT response: The policy is in place to prevent the build-up of delays, trains run on a very tight "dwell time" at stations.] I think the guard wasn't looking and should have been.
As I said, a comedy service today. I don't want an apology, they are meaningless. [SWT response: We're still investigating why the train didn't stop, I hope you are not overly delayed.] While you're at it, ask the last guard why he told everyone twice to get off at Waterloo and catch the 1409 to Winchester and get the bus.
The 'fallback mode' is indicating the wrong trains?? Fallback to what exactly? [SWT response: It assumes all trains are running on time, and removes them from screens at departure time. But the feed has been restored now.] That's alright then. Are you really a railway company?
Change at Weybridge for 19:37 to Addlestone - as you ought to know. Sadly I do - have to do this every day. Unfortunately. [SWT response: You are lucky to connect but this is not a scheduled connection and we have no obligation to make the connection.] 'You are lucky to connect but this is not a scheduled connection...', but shouldn't you be on time???
Not what your announcers are saying! 'Trespassers on the line'. [SWT response: Which station, can I ask? Some of our stations don't always announce the correct reason, a problem which we're working on.]
I'm on FGW from the South West. Due Reading 18:51 now running late, and due out to Clapham at 1710 (?) fixed ticket!!! Hope we make it…? [SWT response: If you miss your connection due to a delay on the network, we are understanding and allow you to travel on the next service.]
No air conditioning on the 18:05 from Waterloo! Very hot and about to kill someone. [SWT response: Sorry to hear this, can I ask which coach you're travelling in?] Coach 3. someone even fainted. A train that is going to be full of football fans and shoppers with no air conditioning? [SWT response: I've heard it's very crowded. Is the air conditioning not working at all, as we believe it's just having trouble keeping up?
If you have to put on replacement buses, please put help in Clapham Junction so people know where to go! [SWT response: On this occasion, it's been a particularly difficult day, we will be feeding back the issues regarding information given to you.]
Love it when SWT manages to run late at both ends of the day. I value consistency in a relationship. [SWT response: Very sorry for the recent delays, we're being hard hit by trains faults which are the main cause.]
Sneaky, sneaky ticket inspectors on the bridge in Raynes Park St, SWT?? [SWT response: They are at stations to carry out customer service duties.]
Priceless SWT-speak (November)
Can you please arrange for us to be allowed off the train? We are at the platform at Earlsfield. [SWT response: I'm afraid not, staff are not allowed to open doors at unbooked stops.]
Oh, and another thing, we're not even being allowed to leave the train !!! [SWT response: We're not allowed to open doors at unbooked stops, apologies for the delays.] ... Funny that you've just let us off??
It's always 'If' with your company. Absolute joke, this time don't ignore me, what is your managers name? I want to complain higher. [SWT response: We don't give out names in the public arena I'm afraid, you can refer your case to Customer Relations.
Is it true the next train from Waterloo to Witley is 10.45? Why is there such a big gap from 8.15?! [SWT response: It is, I'm afraid. The gap is due to engineering alterations, but I'll pass this to train planning to look into.] OK thanks, it's highly inconvenient, considering how much we paid for a ticket! [SWT response: I understand completely. We'll raise this to try and stop it happening again.]
[Severe overcrowding on] 8.20 from Waterloo which I think is for Salisbury but stops at Clapham Junction, Woking, Basingstoke. [SWT response: Sometimes we will not pick up to prevent dangerous overcrowding, however we have no choice but to pick up [in this case] as this will exasperate the problem even further.] So define "dangerous overcrowding"?
Well done Ascot. [with picture]; Monday morning fail. [SWT response: An update for the queues yesterday. The printer had failed in the ticket office, apologies for the long queues it caused.]
Ticket machine not working at Ewell West so unable to purchase ticket; I'm already on train. [SWT response: The guard will be located near the middle, please approach them, if they approach you this could be misunderstood as fare evading.]
Do you think you run a good service? I dare you to say 'yes'. 14 days and counting of constant delays. [SWT response: Our daily aim is to run a good service but this is not always possible as factors beyond our control can disrupt this.] Not good enough, you have a responsibility to commuters, all you're doing is taking our money and making false promises.
Will you be able to publish any responses to the feedback? [SWT response: I don't believe we'll be publishing a transcript, sorry.] Why not at least summarise the key points raised and the feedback they offered? Can't be too hard to do that.
17:33 Kingston to Waterloo 12 minutes late, then just drove through the station practically empty with no information to those on platform? [SWT response: Apologies, due to late running this train was run non-stop but our screens weren't updated in time.]
Not happy you kicked me off train at Putney on way to Clapham. Missed my next 2 connections and will be home 45 minutes late! Useless. [SWT response: Sorry for running your train non-stop, as it was running late it would have caused further delays to others if left unchanged.] But you decided to delay me and most of people on train! Doesn't make sense...robbing Peter to please Paul. We were on the train!!
This is getting beyond a joke now! Not even stopping at my stop tonight? Good one. Can I get some form of compensation? [SWT response: We don't offer compensation for fast trains, we're forced to do this when we're short on stock to prevent crowding.] PREVENT crowding? How can throwing hundreds of people off a train to get on the next "prevent crowding"?
On the delayed train just left Totton, why can't it stop at Ashurst?! Having to go to Brockenhurst to then come back makes no sense! [SWT response: This is to reduce further delays on services.]
It would be useful to include positive news that this disruption has been recorded as a void day. [SWT reply: We haven't heard yet about this, and the decision may take some days to make.]
It reads likes you're exploring compensation outside of your charter? [SWT response: Considering the ongoing problems everybody has had we decided to ask the question, but at present our normal process remains.]
Not happy you changed the platform at Woking for the 17.55 Portsmouth train one minute before the train left, meaning I missed it. [SWT response: Sorry for this, this was a last minute change following earlier disruption.]
How about updating people that Clapham Junction is closed and that no one can access any trains? [SWT response: It was not closed completely, due to crowding we were only allowing people to get off trains.]
If all trains cancelled from Aldershot to Guildford how are you meant to get home? [SWT response: We are currently working on getting train ticket acceptance on local Stagecoach buses. More information to follow when known.]
Nope, pretty aware what train I was on... due to train track issues you couldn't stop at Clapham Junction or Wandsworth Common. [SWT response: I understand now, I guess your train would have been running fast due to being overcrowded due to being short.]
What compensation is being offered to fare paying customers who are being inconvenienced? [SWT response: We don't offer compensation for short-formed trains as this is not in the terms of our franchise.] Surely short-formed trains should not be in the terms of your franchise!!
If you're recovering service on the Epsom-Waterloo line why are trains cancelled in both directions? How is this recovering? [SWT response: this means trains are running fast/skipping stops to ensure a train which forms another trains gets to where it needs.]
Your lack of response or acknowledgement of my messages is frustrating, especially as there has been previous dialogue. It's your CCTV footage from Barnes Bridge that will show I purchased a ticket. [SWT response: Ircas can contact us for the footage, please speak to them about requesting this as it isn't our remit I'm afraid.] I have tried with no luck - all automated!
It's always going to rain SWT! Stop burying your head in the sand and sort the drainage out! [SWT response: We do have a pump in Fulwell tunnel which does the job quite well, however today it's broken down.] SWT staff told me the pump reaches its full capacity to pump after less than a day's rain. Disgraceful. Might send an FOI.
07.29 at Putney this morning, doors were shut whilst people were still getting off. New tactic to frustrate passengers? [SWT response: Sorry for this, trains only have a limited time at each station but we'll pass this on to be looked into.]
Are you actually saving much time by inconveniencing hundreds of people? [SWT response: We have no choice to run fast to prevent one delay escalating to major delays across the network. Apologies.]
12.12 from Waterloo to Twickenham cancelled on international match day. Genius! [SWT response: This train was started at Clapham Junction and not cancelled entirely, due to earlier congestion.]
Went to Eastleigh to buy tickets (as Chandlers Ford is shut on Sunday) but ticket office was closed so had to go to Southampton Airport - is there a reason for this? [SWT response: Apologies, we were not aware that it was closed this afternoon.]
Priceless SWT-speak (December)
The Horsley ticket machine again will not allow collection of pre-booked tickets. [SWT response: Thanks for letting us know, this fault does occur sometimes and I'll get the machine reset.]
Please explain why when the 08:52 has been late on Monday and Tuesday at Effingham Junction it left 2 minutes early today!!! [SWT response: We've checked, and it appears the guard's watch is out. Unfortunately they couldn't see the platform clock and so the train left early.]
You work to stop delays for a group of passengers by delaying a group of passengers? [SWT response: We're trying to minimise delays for the majority, which in this case meant missing your stop. Sorry you were affected by this.]
Customer Relations won't help! Still waiting for a reply to the first e'mail I sent in January 2014! [SWT response: I know it's obvious, but have you checked your junk e'mail folder just in case?]
Any idea why the 17:28 Waterloo-Windsor was a 4 coach train? [SWT response: It's only 4 coaches this evening, this was done to prevent overcrowding and reduce delays.]
Your trains are too hot. It's not cold, people are wearing coats, trains overcrowded. Simple. [SWT response: They sometimes may feel hot because people have run to catch them. They're thermostat controlled, so shouldn't overheat.] You are clearly doing nothing about it. This is about the 6th time I have complained about the heat. I wrote to customer services.
Nice of South West Trains to build this lovely passenger shelter at Branksome, but they left the roof off. [SWT response: Hello. The shelter is meant to be a protection against wind rather than rain, but we'll ask about getting a roof installed.]
Ewell to Waterloo. Why only 4 carriages when only 2 trains an hour. Train is packed. [SWT response: The capacity and time are due to Sunday service timetable.]
Why can I only buy my weekly pass the day before I want it, given I can buy other tickets in advance? [SWT response: This is to prevent the ticket being used before the day it begins, and reduce fraudulent usage.] But how does that differ from tickets for other journeys being bought and used when they shouldn't, given staff at my station only open the ticket office when they feel like it and machines often don't work. It's very frustrating. /// So that's 2017, what is being done now? Forgive me but if you sell more tickets than capacity shouldn't this have been sooner? My concern is what will 2017 look like? Will it be too late? By then will this still be too little? [Second caller: They admit they have no idea when they will be able to provide a normal service: wouldn't bother engaging with them, they don't care at all. They overcharge and under-perform. /// So is that an apology? It's really starting to annoy me how substandard the service is for what I pay. /// Guess SWT know how to rub salt into wounds. Announcing 7:11 is cancelled as the empty train rolls through the station. /// Can I claim back parking as I was parked there for approximately 5 minutes, had to leave due to train cancelled? /// I've sent an e'mail. What is the process for refunds of phantom tickets? /// This is the problem. You only ever respond to specific incidents, not wider issues. /// I expect a full refund for Tuesday's hour delay on the 5:01 (over-running engineering works) and today for the lie. Just shown your tweet to the station guard, who agrees it left early and informed signal control at Basingstoke. /// Shocking treatment of passengers this evening on the 17:53 to Basingstoke. Control room calls the shots with no thought to customers. Couldn't have planned and announced at Waterloo? If you advertise stops train is making, not fair on customers to change mid-journey. /// The alterations you published aren't a full list. Acknowledge the inconvenience caused when you randomly skip stations! /// SWT officially the worst I have ever seen. /// Not very impressed with SWT this evening. Rather upset passengers than stop at scheduled stops, due to delays. /// Really unhappy with my journey. I paid for first class, and it was anything but! Please tell me how you will resolve this? /// This group of people molested two, 20 year-old males, strongish build. SWT should pay more attention to security. /// After over 2 months since reporting, your web still says impossible to travel Whitchurch – Swansea. /// Thanks for selling me incorrect ticket yesterday for today even when I got it from advanced ticket section! How hard can it be?! /// I am getting bored of having to stand and getting crushed, you need to run more trains to Reading. £4.500 a year for this ****! /// I think your choice not even to discuss an important issue with your fare-paying passengers is a disgrace. /// I'm actually tired at the thought of trying to explain to you and knowing you will do absolutely nothing about it. /// On the way to Hampton Court and your display in carriage telling me I'm going the other way?! It sums up why people get so frustrated with you as a company!! /// The train was at the platform at Ascot, but the driver said we were too late to get on. So 10+ people had to take taxis or wait on the cold platform for an hour. /// Looks like a customer has to look after other customers as the provider doesn't care about them yet again!! /// Currently not showing any cancellations. Does not stopping at Farnborough not count as cancelled? /// This morning my train stopped for 15 minutes with no announcement. Overheated carriage, crowded, no seat. Severe morning sickness and this happens again and again and again. Yet you keep charging extortionate fares for an unreliable and inhumane service. /// You really are a joke, train is rammed and you're cancelling it at Salisbury. Don't you like your S.W customers? /// Sorry that you have to listen all those complaints. But for last weeks there is not a single day we can go home without delays. /// Longest excuse for treating customers like **** that I have ever read... /// You really are a pathetic excuse for a train company. Huge delays, problems and overcrowding every day. /// Almost certainly statistical manipulation as it's only >10mins at terminus that counts as "late" for whole journey. /// I apologise if me getting to where I pay to go will hit your targets. I'll try to be more thoughtful in future. /// Really annoyed today that I had to pay a fine!! I expense my travel so I'm hardly trying to jump the train!!
Please justify "train reservations". Customer must use particular train, but you're not compelled to provide seat. Great, for you. /// DISGUSTED WITH SERVICE, never again.. Sitting in aisle after paying £150 for 3 tickets, it's appalling, REFUND?? Yes I think so. /// Shouldn't the driver make sure everyone has got on before shutting doors on them, especially if with buggy? At Barnes station just now. The doors were closed while people were still getting on. We had a buggy. 17:16 (2 minutes late) from Barnes to Waterloo. We all got on but only because people held the doors. /// Absolutely disgusted by the 15:22 service from Clapham Junction to Exeter St David's; completely overbooked leaving hundreds stranded [Ed note: they were the lucky ones, the 16.22 was axed between Waterloo and Basingstoke]. /// Utter chaos on SWT at the moment! The journey from London to Gillingham Dorset is a nightmare - pull your bloody finger out SWT. /// Yes the 9.06 did stop. It was the 8.06 and 8.37 that didn't. [SWT response: The 08:37 should have stopped, I'll look into that.] If you could, that would be very helpful - we were an hour late to meet a plumber which has cost us £150! /// Your service last night / today has been an absolute joke. What are you going to do to compensate the hundreds of people affected? /// Your 'service' this week has been appalling, long delays and very little information getting home Monday/Tuesday, serious overcrowding Wednesday/Thursday. /// Just in case you weren't aware, your service has been utter **** this week. Again. /// Sat on my 10th late train of the week (ie every single one) I begin to wonder; why don't you just change the timetable? /// Perhaps you could open a library to give us something to do with all the time we spend waiting at Weybridge. /// So you can't buy an Off Peak Day Travelcard for another day? Not had those problems at LUL ticket office or online. /// Awful, appalling service....I'm so annoyed at the lack of customer service... 14.38 and 14.41 from Surbiton to Waterloo. Delayed, slow, mis-advertised, no announcements. /// Everyday sexism in action on the 0736 London bound from Shawford; first class seats available, but only for 'the ladies'. Passengers were told 2-3 times by the guard that there were free seats in 1st class 'for any ladies'. /// Big thank you to SWT for making me lose a massive job opportunity today. I honestly don't understand how you can **** up so badly. /// After a thoroughly enjoyable day, shame it was literally railroaded by SWT's poor service and on-the-ground customer service. /// Is the entire SWT service built on hope and apologies? That's what I would like to know. Today was a disgrace - no one knew anything. /// What if we all revolt and start walking along the tracks to Waterloo? /// Absolutely awful service. I now have to wait 30 minutes for a train even though I know you can buy on board. Just awful. I was expecting your platform staff at Waterloo to have half a brain but I was wrong. Ignore me. Just a customer. My frustration is the complete lack of empathy and not going the extra mile for your customers. [SWT response: I appreciate the frustration, but you need a valid ticket before boarding, unless the facility wasn't available to buy one.] [Second caller: Explain why gates out-of-use at 9pm Winchester and no ticket checks? Not consistent are you? Waterloo easy target. /// I am exhausted just reading these tweets. And I still have no idea what's happening. Not alone I expect. /// Thought it was standard practice to allow passengers to board the train. 0810 from Barnes didn't. [SWT response: I suspect this is down to the train being dangerously overcrowded.] Your suspicions are incorrect. There were empty seats in most carriages. The guard apparently suggested "signal failure". /// Proof SWT are too busy - two separate fights in one carriage in the first 25 minutes of our journey. /// I will get local MP and transport minister involved, if service and stock not improving how can ticket price increase annually? /// Never mind, you are so rubbish and so slow I made my own way home, absolutely shocking!!! 1st world country 3rd world service!! /// By far the worst train operator in the UK. Total contempt for their customers, who they only have thanks to monopoly. /// SWT is currently not fit for purpose. Double-decker trains work very nicely in Amsterdam and Milan I think. /// Your service is shockingly poor these days. Confusing lack of information for customers. Waterloo is in chaos half the time. /// Thankfully I don't have to use your "service" again. /// What are you going to do to improve the wifi which seldom if ever works? /// Why do you not have a first aid kit on board? Luckily the train man had a bandage in his bag!! Just would have liked to clean it now rather than wait 40 minutes until I'm home!
Waiting right by door at Wimbledon for 20.34 to Raynes Park. Stood aside to let people off busy train. Doors locked and closed .. /// Any reason why the 1055 Windsor service from Whitton just failed to stop? Sailed through at 30mph, NRES showed it left on time! /// Sunningdale station ticket office closed due to printer fault - have you tried turning it off and on?? /// They barely stopped to let people off. Old man getting off was caught in door and appalled we couldn't get on! /// I have been travelling the same route for 15 years and it's got worse each year, this being the worst year. I won't hold my breath. A lot seems to get "passed on" but nothing ever changes. /// Apparently SWT aren't sticking to their timetable today with their trains leaving two minutes early. Cheers for the cold wait. 17.17 Epsom-Guildford. [SWT response: Sorry for this, the train shouldn't have done this, we'll look into this. Next train will be at 17:37, a Southern service.] /// Fed up to the back teeth with SWT's awful service and their pathetic apologies. /// Delays at least every day! No compensation, no, no sign of improvement, unreliable... /// Tis The Season of Goodwill - 16:15 Richmond to Waterloo delayed due to disruptive passengers. It will run fast from Barnes. Not much goodwill shown on this occasion I'm afraid. /// I spend nearly £70 a week on trains. Never been treated so badly by a company in my life. Your policies and pricing are outrageous. /// It's stunning how bad SWT are and come the New Year they will want MORE money!!!! Utter joke. /// SWT never ceases to amaze me on how **** it is. Rip off for no seats, delays and that awful smell.
Customer Services (October)
Calling out to the twittersphere for inspiration. Creating a site dedicated to the worst customer services experiences / responses. [SWT response: Did Customer Relations respond to your earlier query?] Indeed. Denying any fault on their part. Apparently carting me across the country like an un-named cadaver is what I paid for. /// So why in the last year was I entitled to no void days from Woking to Waterloo? Because you don't run a service between them only?" [SWT response: You will have to raise this case with Customer Relations who are able to investigate this further.] Done that. Took three months and was fobbed off. /// You should warn your customers there's a 45 minute+ delay on your phones. It's one thing dealing with train delays but phones too? /// Not expecting a quick reply, stick to what you do best. Slow and poor service... /// Not helped by your passive aggressive tweets to customers suggesting that they constantly check your website for faults.
Customer Services (November)
When does your franchise end? Love that it's customer relations. Even your PR team won't describe it as a service?!? /// Your service is a joke. /// No reply to e'mail sent to customer services four weeks ago now, and no one will help me at the station either. /// Here it is... AGAIN: SWT-201213-AAAEK. Someone needs to contact me about this. How hard can it be? Almost a year now. /// Your customer service e'mail address firstname.lastname@example.org bounces. Great customer relations there! /// Utterly ridiculous that Waterloo ticket office just refused to sell me an advance ticket, having queued for 15 minutes.
Customer Services (December)
Sent a query into SWT two months ago. Still no response. /// Just been hung up on by your customer service. /// I would like a little respect for your customers at some point. Delays are expected, appalling customer service is not. /// We're beyond 'due course'. This is now a formal complaint and I've sent to Passenger Focus as well. /// We have now passed the 20 working days to reply to my e'mail. This is beyond comedy and is now just embarrassing. /// Appalling service from SWT Lost Property in Waterloo. The guy was beyond useless! Maybe they are keeping lost items for Xmas presents. [SWT response: Sorry to hear this. Please contact our Customer Relations team about this, who will be able to investigate.] Already spoke with Customer Relations and was told chasing up lost property wasn't his job!
Disabled people (October)
Poor old couple could barely walk, just made it to the door and they shut them! Everyone was outraged! Poor people.
Disabled people (November)
Why is the rebuilt ticket office at Clapham Junction non-wheelchair friendly with a lower counter? Card machines also raised too high for use. /// How do I complain, get refund and compensation for now ruined evening as have had to take morphine for extra pain you have caused to cap off a great day with no disabled assistance at Waterloo. Shambles doesn't cover it. [SWT response: Sorry about this. Did you book assistance, or speak to the guard onboard about help at Waterloo?] Yep, and at Salisbury and checked by phone with disabled unit before getting on at Exeter. Booking reference Pa2014110500307.
Disabled people (December)
Wait with my Mum over an hour for another taxi to come, not nice for the disabled to wait that long in the cold. It's not just the waiting in the cold, it's also the lack of facilities eg locked toilets. /// (No) thanks to the SWT guard who just refused to help my Mum onto the train in case she delayed it. Another guard saw and apologised for colleague, but by then Mum was in tears. /// Do you know if the lift is working at Farnborough station? Thanks. [SWT response: I can't get through to the station to double check, but we have had no reports of this being out of order.] Is there any staff there? I've been told by guard there isn't.. And I need help off.
Two weeks on you still haven't replaced parking fees poster at Woking's Oriental Road car park. /// Why no announcements on the train? Could have told work I would be late and it would have been a lot less stressful. /// Your short platform announcement didn’t fire in the rear carriage, then got duff information from the guard. /// Sorry, you are wrong. My daughter is on the 09:50 train from Aldershot which has just been terminated at Farnham! Any ideas? /// Please can you advise those of us stuck on the train at Teddington if it's worth making alternative arrangements? /// Maybe let train crews know as trains being diverted. /// The station staff at Egham were only trying to be helpful but obviously had different information from the guard. They were wrong, adding to confusion and frustration. /// Information re delayed 18.33 Kingston to Waterloo was variously absent and wrong. /// The driver has said nothing about why we're broken!! Angry passengers. /// Customer information system, platforms 3 and 4 at Clapham Junction defective. Both showing incorrect data so missed two trains today. /// I love it when SWT secretly change the platform and don't tell anyone.... After finally getting to Twickenham, it changed with one-minute notice - loads of people missed it. /// Why do you let another train go without any announcement on the earlier service????? [SWT response: During disruption, decisions can be made quickly to minimize further delay. I'm sorry we didn't pass the information to you in time.] No excuse for the guard being inaudible. .. /// 7.02 to Guildford via Cobham. Prior warning of termination is generally helpful, then one can plan alternatives.. /// Signs have been atrocious the last few days! Not up to date with destinations and delayed times. Fed up with being stressed and late. /// No known disruption?? The 0718 Winchester-Waterloo has been cancelled! What's more disruptive than that? /// I've now counted 7 trains going to Waterloo which could have stopped and got us.... And now 8. WHERE IS THE INFORMATION?!? /// Picking up involves stopping so the announcement "Will not be stopping at Woking" was an untruth. /// Tip for SWT - if you're going to miss out stations on a scheduled route, best to inform passengers BEFORE they board the train. /// Appalling service again, website says you can travel after 7, station say you can't travel till 7.15. Supersaver not good!!!! /// Monumental **** up, by either Waterloo station or SWT, for putting up the 6.23 fast train on platform 11 but dispatching the SLOW train instead. /// Website says 30-minute delays. Clearly not accurate as I've been sitting at Totton for 1 hour!
Repetitive announcements making the delays / cancellations even more infuriating. Plus they're totally unhelpful. I'm going mental trying to make an appointment which I was originally going to be so early for. Had to make a mad dash for a cab because none of the tannoy announcements were clear. /// /// On move 26 minutes late. Can't platform staff at Waterloo get training to use tannoy system on trains to give update when no guard? /// Trains to Portsmouth also going nowhere. And the boards are inconsistent - some say fine and some tell the truth. /// Just seemed like the emphasis was in getting the trains out - regardless of whether or not they had passengers on them.. It wasn't the lack of trains (although that was bad), it was the lack of information leading to the few trains running, leaving empty.. /// No there isn't - the page doesn't say anything. We expect full information of how to claim compensation. /// I was at the station for half an hour after the incident and they were still none the wiser. Also, if you have the means to tweet out the incident, you presumably have the time to inform station staff? /// Was stuck in New Forest last Monday, no signal and the guard's blackberry didn't connect to SWT wifi, apparently. /// This platform 19/20 mix up that just occurred. I was early for that train, now I'm stood and cramped on this one. /// I do wish the sometimes very rude and unhelpful staff at SWT could get their facts straight and stop delaying my journey every morning! Every day a different staff member has a different idea about when off-peak starts, meaning I am overcharged or delayed! /// So why did your rep - who was there to apologise and fix problems - create new ones by giving wrong information? /// Very helpful it's been decided 6.00 to Waterloo from Southampton isn't going to stop at Basingstoke once the train has already departed! /// Not good enough. You made people wait thinking it was going to Wool and when it arrived they said it wasn't. /// Waterloo station is a shambles. Wrong information re platforms from staff and boards useless, so I'm now 20 minutes late. Sort it out. Asked what platform for next train to Wimbledon. He said platform 1. Waited and then asked different staff who said "this train out of service, it's platform 4." /// On the Clapham Junction 15:36 train to Strawberry Hill, the announcements are all wrong, been like this for a while. /// Thanks SWT for putting wrong information up at Wandsworth Town. Missed my train and over an hour wait till next one. The boards kept saying train was coming - when it finally arrived they announced it wasn't stopping at Clapham!!!!! /// Tell people on the platform before they get on that "this train terminates here" and other trains have left. /// "I have no idea why we are being delayed". EXCELLENT! I cannot wait to move and never have to use you on a daily basis. /// For those stations that have no staff, announcements about delays and trains not stopping are always handy!!! This is at Earlsfield. Also announcements about fast trains on platform 2 no good when they've already gone a minute before! /// I was delayed at Ashurst New Forest, no explanation, then train cancelled. Had to wait over 40 minutes for another one! /// There was no information of stops on 19.17 from Waterloo - why? Caused me to get off at wrong stop and taken over 2 hours to get home it was 19.17 to Hounslow from Waterloo. I'm new to the area so the lack of information was really confusing!
What's today's reason for the bedlam on the Guildford via Cobham route? /// There aren't any local announcements at Hinchley Wood. [SWT response: Please look at the front of the train or ask the Guard. Apologies for inconvenience caused.] Looking at the front of the train does not help. This train's destination has just changed at Surbiton. /// Thanks for changing the platform of the 16.49 train from Twickenham to Reading and not letting anyone know. /// If you announce a platform alteration and then recant it please allow passengers back onto the train they had originally joined! London Waterloo platform 2 for the 21.11 to Guildford. Incorrect platform change announced and passengers not allowed back on. /// The delayed 18:42 from Waterloo to Basingstoke, became the 19:54 to Waterloo without informing the current passengers. No-one was told when they got off at Farnborough [train running non-stop to Basingstoke for operational convenience.] that it'd probably be quicker to stay on for Hook and Winchfield at least. No information. /// Sitting outside Fleet station with a 7-month old baby in the car. Still waiting for the 19:25 you decided to cancel. /// Why force everyone on 18:41 to Basingstoke off at Farnborough for the sake of gaining 5-10 minutes? /// Departure board at Waterloo said get in rear five coaches for New Milton. Should have been front five. /// Not first time that's happened. Your guards can only pass on the information at hand - maybe you need to review your communications? /// Why the **** did you tell us to get off the train (21:52 from Waterloo to Addlestone) at Queenstown Road? [SWT response: Sorry for the miscommunication. Our guard was expecting you to walk through the inside of the train rather than the outside and unfortunately left without you. He wasn't expecting the rear doors to open. When they did, and you got off, he left you behind as he didn't realise everyone was walking down the outside.
Talk to your staff at Wimbledon. Late trains are bad, but this time they closed doors 2 minutes EARLY and didn't let us on. I'm referring to 17:40 to Dorking. Doors closed 17:38. Wasn't full and train sat at platform until 17:40. /// I was on time (2 minutes early actually) and watched the train leave early. [SWT response: I'm very sorry this has happened. I will feed it back but sorry for the delay it's caused.] Not your fault. But sorry won't stop me being late for work. /// Was wondering if you guys know why the late 10:45 service to Weymouth stopped at New Milton, failed to open its doors then left? [SWT response: I'm sorry about this, we've just been advised when investigating for you that the train was amended not to stop.] Shocking service this morning SWT. Cancelling my 08:48 train (which was only 4 coaches anyway!) but not stopping any other trains. /// The 11.15 from Leatherhead to London just left at 11.13!!!!!! /// Why the hell is the Alton train sitting at Bentley for the next 20 minutes instead of going on down to Alton??? This is ridiculous. /// 8:06 Bournemouth to Andover. I was meant to arrive at 9:47, it's 11:04 and I'm still not there!! /// I'm still not clear as to why Shawford was the chosen station to miss. Also how are Shawford users compensated? /// Can I have your sympathy for my flu symptoms after I was left standing at Wandsworth Town this morning for half an hour without any announcements? [SWT response: Sorry to hear you're feeling unwell, which platform was it?] Platform 4. 0902 looked cancelled, also missed the next one because the carriages were half missing and packed with passengers. /// Pathetic service. How can you say a train is cancelled but then have it pass through the station to pick up elsewhere? [SWT response: During disruption we sometimes miss stops to prevent knock-on delays to following trains.] So you pick and choose among your customers? There was a gap after the Dorking train, no train behind to affect. And there's no chance of compensation or refund because you also pick and choose who gets those. /// Did anyone even check to see if passengers at Wimbledon had a chance to get to Raynes Park? Why cancel stop at major interchange? Pathetic service. How can you say a train is cancelled but then have it pass through the station to pick up elsewhere. [SWT response: During disruption we sometimes miss stops to prevent knock-on delays to following trains.] Did anyone even check to see if passengers at Wimbledon had a chance to get to Raynes Park? Why cancel stop at major interchange? I'm still waiting for answers here re your planning or lack thereof when you pass people on a platform who've waited 30 minutes+. [SWT response: We can't provide detailed feedback such as this on social media, you'd need to address it to our customer relations team.] /// SWT, maybe the next time you cancel the 0854 from Fleet to Waterloo do it more than 3 minutes before it is due to arrive. [SWT response: I'm sorry for the short notice, however this can happen when delays are occurring. I do understand your frustration.] You cancelled the stop at Fleet so the train would arrive at Waterloo on time - we saw it go through the station!! /// Disgraceful service at Basingstoke train station - 50 minutes delay, being moved between platforms three times to Farnborough, sort yourselves out! /// Doesn't make it acceptable to then stop the delayed train from stopping at my station. /// Can't someone at SWT Weybridge use their nous and hold trains on passengers' behalf? /// No common sense and no decency; connection at Ascot to Guildford pulled out as we pull in. Shocking service. 35 passengers left fuming. /// I missed train from Brockenhurst to Lymington by 2 minutes due to late arrival of train from London. Why couldn't it wait? /// By all means cut the train to 8 carriages if necessary but please don't remove West Byfleet from the 18.45 schedule again! [SWT response: We have to as if we stopped there the train would become dangerously overcrowded I'm afraid.] You run short trains which are full so you randomly decide which stops to not call at? That's a reliable and dependable service. /// 30 seconds mean I'm 30 minutes late for work, along with 3 other people. Running late can be justified, leaving early though... /// Can handle the delay; but when it's this late it often gets diverted to skip Wimbledon, so 5 minute delay becomes 20. /// SWT suck so hard it's unreal. Yeah let's just not stop where we were supposed to. Love it, not getting home until the early hours. /// Whenever a train is delayed, Bracknell and Martins Heron are always struck off the list.
Thank you SWT for making journey back from London horrific. /// South West Trains at Woking care more about running on time than letting everyone who needs to get on the train do so. Poor show. /// 22.23 from Fulwell late for 5th time in a row!! It's as if connecting services elsewhere are irrelevant at this time of night. /// I was going to make it over to @OffTheRailsLDN today, but the usual one hour trip was going to take two and a half hours. /// ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! 36 MINUTES LATE AND YOU KICK US OFF THE TRAIN SO IT CAN GET TO WATERLOO ON TIME?!?! /// Can you please advise HOW we are supposed to get to Hampton Wick??? Such a useless ***** company!!!! /// You've had disturbances to my service every day for the past two weeks./// Just a casual 1hr 30mins to get from Twickenham to Clapham! /// Absolute joke, second day running too! /// Got to wait two hours for the stupid train! You're lucky my Mum's to the rescue. I want a full refund on my train ticket, but they will not give me one. I am very unhappy with your service, some people have children to pick up like I do. /// SWT can't be bothered to wait 4 minutes when the service is only hourly at this time of night. Don't worry I ended up catching the bus home. /// It's a whole week later, no improvement, half a train on a busy service. /// Any idea why the late running Waterloo departure from Poole has just sailed through Poole without stopping? It was shown on the screen as due 1905, then 1903; sailed through without stopping at 1904. /// Any chance of a service that isn't delayed fromTeddington this week? Its becoming a joke. How do you plan to compensate? /// Nice to see the 14:17 from Wandsworth Town to Waterloo leave promptly, almost a minute early... causing me to miss it. [SWT response: Very sorry for this, I can see it did indeed leave a minute early and will report it to our controllers.] /// 12.47 at Guildford, 13.02 at Woking. I made it by running flat out across platforms up and down stairs. Many less able passengers did not. /// Very disappointing service!!! As gold card holder I expect better!!! /// That's the problem with getting the first train on a Sunday - over-running engineering works, every single time. /// Terminating trains at Wimbledon now SWT, must be nice knowing your customers have such little faith in you that it's not a shock anymore. /// Any particular reason the 16.05 Waterloo to Reading train isn't stopping at Twickenham? /// A train that should have stopped at Raynes Park didn't and went through a red signal. /// How can you pull stops off the schedule mid-service?! Disgusting abuse to customers, if I would've known I'd have got 17:46 to Shepperton. /// 1820 Waterloo to Reading. Late every day for the past THREE weeks. /// Weekly ticket so will claim, the issue is lack of confidence in SWT's ability to run a reliable service. /// 17:18 to Waterloo. All chucked off train at Wimbledon then told it was going to Waterloo. Train display said Teddington. /// I missed the England game at Wembley today because my train from Alton was delayed due to a signal failure at Farnham. /// Got on a specifically paid for train to Clapham after waiting in the rain due to delays. Train didn't even stop at Clapham!! /// I was simply asking why several peak trains to Windsor had been shortened with dozens of people stranded. /// Missing key stops is very frustrating. Had overcrowded bus from Richmond to Feltham a few weeks ago as no train, again dangerous and annoying. /// You are the worst. Your solution to train running 18 minutes late? Don't stop at the station I need to get off at!!! I hate you. [SWT response: Sorry for this, however this is done for safety reasons to prevent overcrowding and service recovery when badly delayed.] You LIARS! The train to Waterloo, stopping at Clapham Junction at 10am will not be crowded AT ALL! It's to cut down your average late stats. NOBODY in any volume will get on the train to Waterloo from Clapham Junction at this time. Who are you kidding? /// Decide to cancel a service to protect their stats and have a train on time, leaving several stranded. [SWT response: This is done to recover the service, we never want any customers to miss their train. It's choosing the best of two bad options what's the alternative?] Have a train arrive a few minutes late? Doesn't seem as bad. The next two trains have been too busy now. /// Slight delay on my train (6.47 from Walton) so they are skipping all stops between Surbiton and London. /// Why did the 17.19 from Virginia Water leave early? The SWT train from Chertsey was delayed by 3 minutes so missed connection. [SWT response: It appears it did, sorry if you were delayed by this. I will investigate.] /// Can please STOP LETTING TRAINS LEAVE EARLY?! I got to the platform at 19:17 for a 19:19 train and the doors closed and it left! Epsom to Kingston via Raynes Park. [SWT response: This train did leave a minute early. Please accept our apologies, this is unacceptable and I will pass the feedback on.] /// Going to miss my connection again. Two days running and it means an extra hour waiting. Can't you guys ever get it right on the day? /// Explain the logic. A 4-minute late train decides to go fast to Waterloo making everyone even later for connections. Brilliant, because your service is about as robust as a house of cards. Kicking people off a running service is fundamentally flawed. /// Do you reply to tweets? Why is the 1635 half its normal size? You be pleased to know I got a seat after 70 minutes. /// Why is the 16.35 Waterloo-Weymouth not stopping at Winchester? We were unceremoniously kicked off without explanation. /// Overcrowding on SWT service to Winchester after earlier service had stop cancelled to avoid overcrowding. /// Last night's London Waterloo to Bournemouth journey was disgraceful. How do I get my money back?
Can never rely on SWT to deliver me home on time. Evening's plans messed up. /// 14.28 Windsor train left at 14.27, leaving passengers stranded on platform. No whistle to notify passengers - bad service. [SWT response: Doors are locked shut 30 seconds before departure and trains can leave once this is completed. I will pass your tweet on.] The doors were locked far earlier /// I've had to find another way home for about the 5th time in a fortnight. Why are Shepperton trains always first to be cancelled? /// Been chasing your tail since 0700 this morning, running trains fast through to Waterloo or cancelling! You're a joke. /// Why is 1823 not stopping at Surbiton? Guard only told everyone just before departure. /// Where the ***** are all the trains to Kingston? It's costing me a bomb. /// I am now late for work at least once a week because of delays and cancellations. You get more hopeless and crowded by the hour. /// I'm unhappy with the lack of punctuality that I pay lots of money for every month! /// Always Waterloo to Stoneleigh and I can honestly say for as many months as I can remember it never gets to Stoneleigh on time. /// I echo what he says, don't delay a train and then when it arrives change it to Waterloo-only service!/// Why are services from Vauxhall cancelled at the drop of a hat? Train is too infrequent as it is for you to keep doing that. /// Will there be reimbursements made for the disruption caused to Esher, Hersham, Walton stops? My journey home has been horrendous. /// Seriously not happy, your delays mean I miss connections, overall over 2 and a half hours late, on top of this all toilets blocked. /// Why have you cancelled the 1812 to Brookwood from Waterloo? It's not even left yet so how can it be late? /// Because of SWT's cancelled and delayed trains tonight I've missed my train to Edinburgh. Had to fork out for a new ticket. /// 10.11 from Surbiton delayed by 12 minutes, then turned into fast train to Waterloo and no stop at Wimbledon!! Freezing! /// When will you people get it into your heads that not stopping at some stations due to running a few minutes late is not acceptable? /// So you'll be pleased to hear connection was missed and it actually left early. Only 21 of us standing in the cold for next 20 minutes. /// Unbelievable SWT - could you not hold the Fratton 0908 for 1 minute?! /// Same as last night. You cancel 1842 Vauxhall to Isleworth. Thanks a bunch. No explanation as ever either. /// My original plan was to be at my destination at least an hour ago instead of still being on a train. /// Why not just instruct your guards/drivers to follow the timetable? 13:17 Wimbledon-Waterloo and about 30-40% of all trains departing Wimbledon. [SWT response: I can see this train left Wimbledon one minute early. I will pass this on. Apologies for the inconvenience.]
Absolutely appalled that I am now being fined because the guard had no machine!! He saw me run on to train and go straight to him. Will be appealing this fine and will question using this service again. /// I see your SWT ticket nazis are victimizing a student this morning. Weren't interested in seeing my ticket funnily enough. Student gets off train at London Road, has weekly ticket but no ID. He claimed he left his ID at home, inspector confiscated his ticket... Don't treat him like a thief. I don't get that when I don't have my ID, or if I don't buy a ticket. My feedback would be, have some empathy, it's not a power trip. /// Now Issuing penalty fares for standing in 1st class on a jam packed train!!! Will be reporting this to your regulator today. /// This is what you say every time. I pay £1,000 for a permit but cannot park. Surely you can see this is unacceptable?! /// I bought a gold card discounted ticket from a machine yesterday but it's full price on my bank statement today. /// How can a train company offer an undeniably ******** service than it should be, but have the nerve to charge full whack for it?? /// Hang on - it's you claiming that a Network Railcard isn't valid on an off-peak train from Waterloo to Basingstoke. Think you need to justify. /// 10.12 from Clapham Junction. Suppose £33 is not enough to get a seat.
Going from Guildford to Putney but got on the train going towards Portsmouth. Why would I go in the opposite direction if I tried to dodge a fare? He charged me for another ticket then walked off. /// Just missed my train because of your idiotic booking system. Your ability to ruin my day is unparalleled. I lose my card and as a result cannot collect my tickets, despite having the receipt, identification and booking reference, and as a result I will now have to pay £40 for a single journey that should have cost me £20 return. Apparently SWT 'committed to customer service'.. but won't refund a lost ticket with proof of receipt.. not company policy.. poor form! /// Completely inappropriate to make profit from own incompetence and not take responsibility. Very easy to give a refund, and fair. Phone said refund fine, written response said our fault 6 times and minimal vouchers. Made bad situation worse, impressive. I liked it taking them a month to reply. Poor service must keep them busy. Customer service worse than station staff. You sold us the wrong ticket! /// SWT at it again...put ticket prices up but have no-one to drive the trains! Three times in 3 weeks. /// Buy before I board? I tapped in with my Oyster card, which I then left on the train, and they wouldn't let me out without a fine? /// SWT have the most unhelpful, rude staff I have ever met. Your Feltham station had barriers open, couldn't tap my oyster, went to the other platform asked for help, told me to tap out. That then took off money as it thought I had made a journey. Went to the ticket office and they were blunt, unhelpful and said that's it, I can't get my money back as it's my mistake!! A member of their staff told me to do it. [SWT response: The best thing to do is contact our Customer Relations team here, who'll be able to assist with this.]
Absolutely appalling explanation by staff that was rude and couldn't clarify why I was being charged for another WHOLE ticket. /// I asked for an off-peak monthly return last Thursday, machine only printed the out ticket, I just rang to ask why I hadn't received the other half of the return ticket. They said there were no faults in the machine if a receipt was printed, and that I would have to buy a new ticket which is another £40, which I cannot afford. The machine definitely only printed one half of the ticket. I have a receipt to prove that it is a 2-part return and don't understand how nothing can be done. /// I didn't have the photocard with it. I haven't had it for ages, but no other guard has ever said anything. So I was sobbing in the middle of Southampton Central being treated like a criminal! No receipt because I paid cash. They took all my details and said they'd investigate me. /// Managed to get on a SWT train instead, only to be told my ticket isn't valid. [SWT response: Strange, we're accepting FGW tickets by reasonable routes.]
Replacement buses and taxis (October)
Your bus replacement services are a joke, been waiting for 2hrs+ more than should've, station staff had to call me a taxi. Refund? /// New Milton. meant to have been the 9.07 but turn up at 9.30. Got to Brockenhurst at 10.05, journey should take 15 minutes. He almost wrote 2 cars off as well. /// Why do SWT advertise bus replacement to pass through Swaythling if it's not going to turn up?!! /// Er...Terrible service SWT. No train from Kingston, too few rail replacements, no idea when they'll turn up and then tell you no buggies. [Second caller: We were also told no buggies - we had to advise. Not good service. Hope you do a better job next time.] /// Into Bournemouth at 2315, then I'm on a bus service to Weymouth, 40 miles away, that's going to take over 2 hours! Really?! /// I had to navigate for the driver from Fulham to Clapham Junction. Driver said the arrangements for the buses had been quite poor. /// It was at 16:23 originally, two buses didn't arrive, meaning I had to get the train at 17:05 which was late. /// A different bus going to Clapham drives right past, how unorganised can you be? /// It has taken 1 hour 45 minutes to get from Clapham to Raynes Park. It is absolutely diabolical. [SWT response: Sorry your trip went so badly today. We've had a number of bus issues which we'll be investigating in order to avoid a repeat.] /// Got on at Clapham at 3.30. We are now lost in Earlsfield an hour later. /// We just had to get off and get a cab. Can you let me know where to go for refunds please? /// Once again ruining the weekend. No trains from Woking to Guildford. And no bus in sight at Woking yet... /// Horrendous bus replacement service SWT at Woking! You've known about the signalling problem all afternoon!
Replacement buses and taxis (November)
Arrived for 10.49 train Kingston to Vauxhall. Bus left Kingston at 11.25!!!! /// Wait for an hour for the bus to then have the driver directed by one of your staff, from Kingston to New Malden? Yes badly delayed, yes been there now on a bus with a driver who doesn't know the route as he's asking the guys at station the route. Really awful. /// No trains, buses not suitable replacement or large enough, staff difficult and rude, could not have been less helpful if he tried. /// So the replacement bus driver from Winchester went in the wrong direction for ten minutes and we missed the train to London. Great! /// Local buses aren't taking the train tickets according to a fellow wet person here. The 281 doesn't stop where we are. /// We could not find replacement buses from Kempton or after walking to Sunbury. Tickets refused on 555 bus. How do we get refund? /// One double-decker bus?? You kidding me? /// Imperial bus at 11:20ish. Buses are stopping outside the station. You gave me the wrong information. I'm on a bus after 50 minutes. Got the next bus from up the ramp outside the station on the A244 opposite Nursery Road, which isn't on the pdf. This is why I missed it. /// Surely when a bus replaces a train for a segment, the train should wait for all passengers! 18:10 Basingstoke to London. /// Your 3.42 replacement bus to Epsom never showed! /// Buses are being cancelled without notice which is not good at all. /// Your replacement bus drivers are an absolute joke. They don't have a clue where they are even going! /// My train from Portsmouth gets to Woking at 16:42, any chance of getting the 16:43 bus replacement to Surbiton? [SWT response: We are unable to hold buses, however please check when you arrive as timings are approximate, there maybe one available. /// Now he's texting while driving. I'll stop moaning at you now but this guy is seriously unsafe. /// After SWT told me they hadn't arranged replacement buses, I spend a lot of money getting home to find a bus with SWT on it. /// Standard SWT service. Such a poorly organised rail replacement service from Woking on a Saturday night. /// Staff there didn't know what bus was going where, or when the next one was. /// What a massive **** ** by SWT at Woking station today. Plenty of furious customers due to your awful organisation. [SWT response: Most buses are running between Guildford and Farnborough. Sorry for the confusion.] /// Were told to get off at Woking, now told to go to Guildford. Hope bus still there for us...lots of people told wrong information.
Replacement buses and taxis (December)
Any idea how long they will be, or if Stagecoach buses will accept our train tickets? [SWT response: Unfortunately Stagecoach are not accepting SWT tickets due to the bus routes already being overcrowded during peak.] /// I wonder how do your drivers get a job if they don't even know where to go? /// A coach drove past a few minutes before 9.35 but no idea if it was the replacement service. /// Your timetable at Salisbury still says train to Whitchurch at 2026. Now faced with hour+ on a rattling minibus. /// Where is the rail replacement bus back to Ascot from Camberley ?! Been waiting 45 minutes now and it's a tad cold!! /// Cab Direct Taxis are charging fares. No thank you. /// Taxi left with space. I am now going to be late for a meeting in London! Not good enough, also train filthy.
The woman I bought my ticket from at Waterloo this morning was on social media while serving me. /// Why is everyone that works for your company miserable unhelpful and rude? Sick of it. /// Salisbury. I've got on the next train. It's just the concept, the guy in front got on. I turned up two seconds later and doors shut. /// Nice to see SWT have their most officious lackwit guard tonight, making life difficult for my partner with a broken foot. /// You need to ensure standards are maintained by everyone. Terrible service from staff at Twickenham this week. /// I'd like to be kept informed about this. My 6 month old daughter and 82 year old grandfather were just left on a cold platform. It was the 1131 from Woking to Waterloo. The guard stood in the doorway and was very rude, the staff claimed it was too busy. That's odd because I get rush hour trains every day and it was nowhere near as busy. /// Awful customer services from a member of your staff at London Waterloo. Brother made to look stupid in front of other customers! Honest mistake, young person's railcard expired, didn't realise. The way the guard acted was like we were jumping the train and made my brother buy another ticket. I get it's the rules, but the way he spoke was awful! We're made to look stupid in front of the guard, who seemed to find the whole thing funny. As I waited for my brother he shouted 'you want my name and number?' on a number of occasions. /// SWT worker at Wimbledon ticket office was very aggressive to me today - through mistake another worker made at Raynes Park. /// Some of your staff are delightfully rude. Lads in front of me treated like idiots because her card machine wasn't working, and dismissive attitude to my polite question. /// I seriously think your staff need better training in customer service and a politer approach to queries. I was actually offended by being smirked and laughed at for genuine queries, which I did point out, with no apology from the staff member in question. /// Horrible station guard screeching at passengers at Clapham junction today. /// Shouting aggressively, basically when people were queuing in orderly manner to get on. You need to give more time for trains to unload. /// Wow SWT staff are SO rude! The male staff always have so much attitude! /// It was the prejudiced comment reference about not having any money that is disgusting. She paid there and then. /// Most ignorant employee ever on the 08.40 from St Denys, not the guard, some suited chap! He threw everyone out of 1st class which is fine, but then became very rude when challenged about it. /// Rudest member of staff watching the barrier at platform 8. Your machine decided to crush my £600 luggage bag and they had no urgency. /// 18:39 Waterloo to Guildford. All the guard said was "We're not stopping at Earlsfield". Train's just left Bookham 19:58. /// I would like to report an extremely rude, obnoxious, condescending, deplorable inspector on the 18.35 from Basingstoke to Waterloo. /// Very unhelpful guards, they should have been selling tickets with their machines. Lucky I got the train by seconds! Sort it out! /// "What you want me to do about it now?" is what 30 passengers want to hear. /// It's not your fault the Waterloo screens are down but being rude to customers when asking what train they need is unacceptable. /// Customer relations were the ones who were rude to me. I have e'mailed them but not heard anything back. /// Awful customer service from the guard on SWT. Missed the train discussing the reasons why he wouldn't let me pay for a ticket from him. [Response: Good afternoon, sorry to hear this, please can you advise which station this was and where this happened?] West Byfleet. Queue at ticket office and asked if I could buy one from him on train. He just pointed to the office. /// The lack of announcement is disappointing. The rude and dismissive platform attendant when a customer makes a query is unacceptable. /// She's incapable of giving you an answer that isn't answered in a disgustingly rude way. I dread every time I see her face. /// The few of SWT staff that speak English don't know what's going on and one of them has just said "**** this" and walked off. /// Enduring the worst replacement service from SWT. Reading to Earlsfield. 3.5 hours and counting with very rude staff. /// Something needs to be done at Southampton Central. The staff let you down. Ticket collection machine had issues with cards and said "please tell a member of staff." The guy at the Platform 1 barrier didn't understand what I was saying and said "for tickets please go to desk." The guy behind the desk said "not my problem" but did promise to tell someone. Very unimpressed by his attitude though. I know, technically, it wasn't his problem, but he didn't have to seem ungrateful that I bothered to alert someone. /// Have just experienced some disgusting customer service at Vauxhall (overground) this morning - where can I send a complaint to? /// Unbelievably rude staff member at your Vauxhall Station. Terrible customer service, can't believe how he spoke to customers. /// Guard on 1735 Waterloo to Reading has locked the inter-unit gangway. Why? So he can read his newspaper? The train is a 450, not 458. /// I was on your train service today and I was appalled by the way I was spoken to / treated. Needs to be sorted. /// Member of staff in platform who 'barked' at people to either get on the train or get off, these people were trying to decide whether there would be value in moving to the three coaches being added at Basingstoke.. If the tone had been 'we are trying to connect the carriages please stay where you are', that would have been a better approach. /// You keep treating your customers as nothing more than cash cows so, guess what, some of your staff start thinking of them as such. /// Trainline, from Woking to Bradford-on-Avon at 9.46. I was spoken to rudely about a mistake with my ticket. I was just harassed about an honest mistake which was out of my control. /// Get the managers on to the platform where customers need them, not hiding in the office when there is disruption. /// His quote to me: "Communication at Southbank West Trains is very bad. Nobody tells us anything." great service...
Your customer service staff at Staines are terrible at dealing with this disruption. /// Do something about the miserable *** who just closed the waiting room at Southampton Parkway. He took a lot of pleasure from it. Zero social skills. No manners. /// It was only last week that you were apologising for another member of your staff to me. Where's the accountability? /// So annoyed, got off 1731 from Hook to change at Fleet on to fast train. Conductor closed doors on me when I realised fast cancelled! /// Train pulled away. Complained to member of staff who turned his back on me and walked away. When is the franchise up?! /// Please ask your staff to stop giving paper season ticket holders a hard time when the ticket no longer work on the gates! Showed my ticket and asked attendant to open the gate which he did, but was quite rudely told I couldn't do that in the future. /// I'm pregnant. My ticket doesn't work at the gates, show guard ticket. He beckons me through but doesn't keep gate open. /// Three free cashiers refusing to serve the 10 customers waiting to get trains after 09.30. At Surbiton /// 19:05 to Weymouth. Shame on you for not giving time for a poor old chap to get off the train, despite the platform staff flagging for attention. Did not even apologise, said man should have been quicker. /// Forever greeted by an old grumpy as **** SWT ticket office guy at Byfleet and New Haw. Canna stand paying the amount I do tae get that! /// It seems that some staff have a negative attitude towards teenagers and are unwilling to help, often acting rudely towards us. /// Not even a train in the station! So angry and your customer service levels are ****! Women working on train sarcastic. [SWT response: Trains are having to be talked past each signal near Winchester, which is the reason for the delay.] So, because you have signal delays, your member of staff can speak to me like that can they?! And you're gonna let her get away with speaking to your paying customers like that! You are a disgrace! Luckily I work close with newspapers! /// An hour delay this morning, cancellations tonight and rude unsympathetic staff. *** is going on? /// Are your services EVER on time?! Are your staff ever friendly ? Without shouting at everyone when you cancelled a train?! /// Nice complaint forms, not enough room to write, anyway gonna be sent tomorrow as one of your guards at Winchester said **** off. /// Please can you tell me how I make a complaint about a guard on one of your trains?? I am fuming to say the least!! /// I believe he behaved unlawfully. /// Never seem to know what's going on. They are as exasperated as those using the service. Really, really hope things improve soon. /// The delivery leaves a lot to be desired. Do any of your staff have any Customer Service experience when they're employed?! /// I pressed return to Richmond - pay now, and went to put my card in but you can't get the card in. Went straight to the guard to ask him if I could buy a ticket from him but he said 'No' because if you sold tickets on board then everyone would do it. He was as helpful as an out-of-order train toilet after a night out on the beers. He said he hadn't had any reports of it being out of order and that I should explain my story to revenue protection when they board. I would have liked him to apologise for the inconvenience, assure me he would get it reported and offer me some advice. /// Could you let me know how I complain about a member of staff? /// I quote 'come back any other time luv can't you see it ain't working' rude AGAIN. /// Some of your staff are appalling. /// Your conductor wrote a sarcastic comment on my Network Railcard and now being told it's invalid as a result. Any thoughts? The obvious relish that this individual took in embarrassing customers was disgusting. /// Sarcastic and insulting comment when I needed to get through barrier with broken ticket. 9:05 Waterloo to Poole. Platform 10. /// I bought my ticket at 18.15. Went to get on the train, tried one door wouldn't open, tried another wouldn't open then the train departed. /// Your kiosk man at Farncombe station is so rude and not helpful. Maybe some training in customer service is needed!? Threw the tickets and change. No communication, takes pleasure in being slow when you have a train to catch.
Absolutely disgusting attitude from guard on 15:59 Portsmouth Harbour to Waterloo. /// It shouldn't be up to a cleaner to tell passengers a train's going nowhere, then the gate staff are rude beyond belief! /// My issue is with us being turfed off the train, not the delay. Then saying "Sorry don't get on the next one, it's too busy, try the one after that". /// Train waiting to depart Waterloo. They come through the train to collect rubbish and get off. One did nothing but sit in the front carriage. Sat for 10 minutes and, when train was ready to depart, got off. /// Couldn't renew my season ticket at station, no guard walking through train - hostile attitude from revenue officer(s). /// Reality is that you are severely understaffed during holiday season. Every year same pattern. /// Why are your staff always really rude to me? If it was a choice, I would 100% not go with you. /// Cheers to the SWT driver who just shut the doors as I was raising my foot to step on. I'll just wait in the cold for the next train. /// Merry Christmas to you too SWT. Just been told by one if your staff 'not to be so lazy.' Livid! I asked to be let through ticket barrier because my ticket hasn't worked for a long while. He asked me why I didn't get it replaced and I said that a) I don't use it all of the time and b) my ticket office is closed when I use my station. /// It's a shame the kind of staff you employ, just got on the 14:20 train from Waterloo to Reading and the guard wasn't helpful. /// Rude man, refused to accept my railcard on this journey and was pleased to tell me it won't be valid from 2nd January anyway. /// I have a complaint about the conductor on the 1605 Temple Meads to Waterloo service leaving shortly. Who should I contact please? Quite possibly the rudest person I've ever met - I'm disgusted by his attitude towards me and my very young family. /// Can you tell me the name of the guard on the 18.28 Farncombe to Guildford please? He wasn't wearing a name badge. Just rude.
Are you ever going to sort out the ticket issue at Datchet? People missing trains or risking boarding. /// How about you get more people to serve tickets at Guildford. Long queues for machines and cashiers. Two cashier windows are closed. /// What use is it having a guy on the barriers at Guildford who doesn't sell tickets but whose sole purpose is to give out bridge passes? [Response: We need to have the bridge pass due to fare evaders - they are also there to provide customer service and assistance.] Better assistance would be selling tickets to reduce massive queues. How about worrying about your paying customers for a change or, you know, actually open the ticket office in peak hours? That's a good 'customer service' idea isn't it? /// Why is Putney station still locked?! [SWT response: We're investigating this, very sorry if you were delayed.] /// So here we go again. I have reported that Kingston roofs are leaking again, what is being done about it? [SWT response: We have identified a partial fix and our teams are currently working towards a long term solution.] /// How can you charge £660 per year to park at Worplesdon with potholes and puddles everywhere? /// Now no one can actually get out of Weybridge station - your service really is disgraceful. /// How often are the toilets at Poole station cleaned? Always gross when I go in there. /// Fleet station experience - website says ticket office open till 19.00, 18.30 closed...staff say not unusual. /// So is the escalator ever going to be powered on during future rush hours?
Just to let you know, one end of Platform 1 at Swanwick is covered in moss, quite slippery to walk on. /// You need to show attention to ice in Farnborough car park, top deck. You failed last year. Dangerous? /// Please can you tell me when the escalator at exit 4 at Waterloo Station is to be fixed? It's been days now!! /// Why were both Aldershot and Farnborough ticket offices closed at 9pm tonight when the advertised opening hours are until 9.40pm??? /// How can you justify charging to use the toilets at Wimbledon? They are an absolute filthy disgrace! /// You wouldn't let your staff work in these conditions! I can't see the other platform. It was at Bursledon station, same issues last week! It's not safe! /// This **** has been here all day, it's a rat's paradise. Try getting more bins. This is disgusting! Clapham Junction. Like this most days. Moving it today won't solve the problem, either stop station traders dumping or get more bins. /// A lick of paint wouldn't go amiss at Godalming station. /// Clapham Junction station is closed. Any chance of finding out some information? You've got a riot on your hands here. /// Can somebody clear ice / put grit on platforms at West Byfleet? It's a Bambi on Ice situation. /// Why is the top deck of Fleet station car park cordoned off? [SWT response: I suspect it's because the surface is icy, sorry for the inconvenience.] So you've built a new car park that can't be used in wintry conditions? /// What's happening at Fratton? RPOs and BTP officers everywhere! [SWT response: It's a revenue block, standard procedure throughout the network.
Your grass cutting exercise at Southampton Central means I now need to clean my car. Where was the warning? /// Is the Richmond station disabled toilet available for use again? [SWT reply: Not as yet I'm afraid. The door lock is broken, but I don't have an ETA for when this will be fixed at present.] It has been out of use for several days. How long does it take to replace a lock?? This is disgraceful. /// Farnham ticket office closed! Website says open until 6:10pm! I'd like to renew my weekly ticket for tomorrow, as the queue tomorrow morning at 6:40 will be a nightmare! Why is it closed? /// One out of three ticket booths open at Woking Station on the weekend before Christmas. Abysmal service as usual.... [SWT reply: We've alerted the station team, We believe they were partway through a shift changeover at the time.] Oh wonderful. You can explain that to the 25 or so people that were waiting to be seen, that have no doubt missed their trains. /// Do you think, at some point in the next 5 years. You could get some staff to work at Shepperton Station. It's a joke.
Ticket machines (October)
Outside ticket machine at Woking not working. /// So the ticket machine at Staines is broken and none of your staff can help! I've been robbed by your machine and no one cares! /// Your ticket machine wouldn't print my friend's ticket and he had to buy a replacement, will you refund him? /// Scottish banknotes not accepted when trying to purchase ticket from machine. Won't accept card payment either. /// The Horsley ticket machine will not allow collection of pre-booked tickets AGAIN. /// One of your machines just charged me £430 and not topped up my card .. How do I get my money back!!!!!!!!! /// Ticket machine at Wraysbury won't let me collect pre-paid tickets, option greyed out... Any idea why?
Ticket machines (November)
IF they work at all, touch screens are unresponsive, options are confusing, do not offer best available deal. Overall a rip off. /// Card machine wouldn't process - took 3 attempts and was incredibly slow. /// Winchester ticket machines still not taking credit cards. Told SWT staff this last week. Maybe fewer glib remarks and more action? /// Charging almost double at the self service ticket machine versus queuing for one of the two window operators...shameful! Why do only sell anytime tickets to London destinations even at off-peak times at self service machines? Great train robbery? /// The ticket machine at Southampton Airport station is not accepting debit cards or Northern Ireland pounds.
Ticket machines (December)
Stranded in Farnham due to ticket machine not working. /// I can't get to another machine without paying out money, which I find ridiculous because in no way is this my fault. /// Ticket machine at Micheldever not taking card payments again. /// The Staines one. It shut down as I was entering my ref number. Made me miss my train and was nearly late for an exam. [SWT response: It probably shut down due to lack of tickets, were you able to get your ticket in time?] It can't have as other people bought tickets after. The prepay button greyed out. Same issue at ticket desk. I missed my train. /// Thanks for not maintaining the self-service machine at Berrylands. Did not appreciate the half an hour walk to Surbiton. Bravo! /// A week later and your ticket machine at Byfleet & New Haw is not working. How am I meant to pay AGAIN? [SWT response: It's run out of tickets to print, sorry for this. Please approach the guard on your train to buy a ticket.] /// Okay, it doesn't matter, I could probably do without that £2... Just a warning for others. [SWT response: The machine should warn people to use cards or exact money only, sorry it swallowed your £2. Thanks for letting us know about it.]
I've lost count how many times the 09.06 train from North Sheen to Waterloo is late and just 5 coaches. Sort it out. /// They (doors) try (to open) but then close again. We had to move up the train to get off. [SWT response: Oddity / peculiarity of that type of train. If it happens again, try holding the button till the doors are at least a foot apart. /// The usual filth on SWT - what must be the dirtiest trains in the country. Disgraceful. It's not the litter that's the issue - it's the appalling condition of the floor that clearly hasn't been cleaned for weeks. Deep clean is every 280 days - all this needs is a mop at the end of each day. Appreciate operations, but no other trains are as dirty. /// 18:23 from Waterloo cancelled, so the 18:32 was way overcrowded so why not declassify 1st class on it? [Response: The Guard has the authority to declassify train at his or her discretion. Sorry for the unease caused to you this evening.] Sure, and if customer service was important to them they would have declassified it, that's my point... /// Your train leaks from the roof on to passengers! Disgusting service. /// My wife and daughter take carrier bags to sit on, seats are filthy. /// I reported a leaking carriage window to SWT this morning as it soaked my arm. No response. So much for National Customer Service Week. /// It's out of service, busted, broken, kaput. Off to the menders. /// SWT should be ashamed of your service, a train has left Wokingham with one functioning toilet and a carriage full of sick. Disgusting. /// So train has broken down less than half a mile away from my stop from power failure... Sort out your budget trains. /// In ten minutes your train will be covered in human ****. I would honestly get this guy home before he starts smearing the window with his own faeces in protest. /// This appears to be a human produced ****! More elsewhere. 2.30 Guildford to Ascot service. No toilets = this. /// Why are westbound trains not stopping at Walton-on-Thames? If a train can drive through water, it can stop too. /// So some trains are boiling and some cool? 6.23 from Waterloo to Basingstoke calling at Surbiton. Always packed and always boiling. /// On some of your class 444 the doors get stuck opening. Press the open button then door gets stuck on 444 139 at the moment. /// This morning's Exeter to Waterloo train. By the time it got to Yeovil all the seats were full, had to stand from over an hour and now my family are split up over 2 carriages and we have paid £100 for the pleasure! [SWT response: I do apologise for this, unfortunately we do not provide seat reservation, I hope this doesn't spoil your day.] No and I think that's a big mistake, there are only three of us and it's not ideal for my elderly parents having to stand for an hour, and two being in different carriages! I won't be travelling SWT. Never had this problem with FGW or Virgin Trains. /// The outrageous prices we pay clearly aren't enough? Cross Country have plugs in every pair of seats. /// Why no toilets on the 20:00 Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour? Disgusting. /// Come on SWT. Only 5 carriages again from Guildford to Waterloo! My septuagenarian mother is having to stand. [SWT response: If you can, talk to the guard on train. They will be able to assist you further or encourage a kind seated passenger to stand.] And the 5 children I have with me?? /// Half term and one more coach would be good on Andover to Waterloo train. Won't you ever learn? /// Let 2 overcrowded trains go at Woking but got on 3rd as next was some time away. Crowding is like peak hours. Not pleasant. /// Currently on the 11.00 to Waterloo from Farnborough, can you do the polite thing and give me some money back on my ticket? 4 coaches, late and very full and standing. My normal morning train now seems like heaven. /// So guard pretty much admitted 4-coach trains making people ill. Any health and safety concerns about squishing 8 coach to 4 in rush hour? /// And thanks to SWT for the near fainting experience I've just had...am very lucky that the kind lady who saw me let me sit in her seat. I've now had fresh air and a chance to sit down for 5 minutes just about - not a great journey at all. /// The 18:08 Guildford to Portsmouth just left refreshments man behind on platform! Trolley on the train unmanned.
Awful service yesterday on the 16.00 from Woking to Bournemouth! 1st class ticket and couldn't get a seat! Terrible. /// 18.32 Basingstoke, you excelled yourself again on my commute home; packed in worse than cattle. /// Why would you turn the heating up full blast when this train is rammed!!!??? /// On the 0642 Salisbury - Waterloo. Three coaches not adequate for Remembrance Sunday. There must be a spare class 159 unit at Salisbury surely? /// A seriously leaky toilet on the 17:23 to Basingstoke from Waterloo tonight. Leaked all over the carriage. Not pleasant! /// Now nearly fainted and asked nice chap to sit. This is what I pay for? /// Rear carriage of the 18:05 from Hampton Court to Waterloo. The train was filthy. /// I sadly expect it to be cold and uncomfortable on your trains. Please advise why you do this? /// Guess what I managed to do? Choice between 1745 and 1752 to Hounslow, made the mistake of waiting for the 1752. Now on wedged 1815! /// Leaving Clapham Junction at 19.32, terminating at Alton, stopping at Surbiton. 5 coaches. Completely rammed. Only one person managed to board. /// Nice to know SWT clean their trains...the chips look like they have been there days. It's now nearly 11am too.
Probably the rudest onboard catering staff ever. I don't pay £6,000+ to be spoken to like that! [SWT response: Morning, what train are you on please? Could you explain what happened?] 0909 Southampton Airport-Waterloo, front 5 coaches. Rammed train (again) and she orders me and others to move. Then argues with us. Not acceptable. /// Just boarded 17.16 Chessington South service and it's so filthy. Had to clear lots off seat and food on floor. /// Further diabolical service from you - 22.00 Waterloo to Salisbury with people standing. Why don't you manage carriage size??? And please ask your Directors to do more weekend journeys so they understand what a poor service they run. It's shameful. /// Pretty **** paying for a ticket and not having a seat! Yet 1st class is empty. Again. Do I get a refund? /// Thank you SWT for doing your usual trick of putting on 4-carriage trains at the weekend. Are you trying to keep us at home? /// So of the four toilets on this train, three are locked and the other has no toilet roll. SWT, denying basic human rights since 1996. /// No one to report this to until the end of journey. Told that as long as journey under 1.5 hours, no toilets necessary. /// Your delayed Weymouth to London train getting into Waterloo at 09.53 is absolutely freezing cold. Please help! /// Thought at least leaving the office late would get me a seat on the 22.00 to Woking. Oh so wrong. And cramped. /// Do you ever clean your trains? 06.25 Bournemouth-Waterloo. Discarded food stuffed down by my seat this morning and unbelievably a fag butt! /// Baby change broken on Waterloo to Reading. No staff on board, can't leave son in faeces for an hour. What should we do? My general experience is that SWT are the least family-friendly rail network. Maybe something to pass on? /// 2-metre piece of metal just fell on my head from your London-Exeter train. What is customer service e'mail!!!!! /// There is no heating on the 07.46 from Malden Manor to Waterloo. /// Just endured the worst loo visit of my life. All 4 on the 22:39 to Southampton were absolutely disgusting. Not what I paid £30 for!
Trapped passengers (October)
Two guards on 0752 Waterloo-Weybridge. Neither saw that doors didn't open at Kew Bridge. Many passengers missed their stop. NEGLIGENT. INCOMPETENT. /// The non-broken door in the adjacent carriage was closed too soon, additional time is needed to offload everyone. /// It happened AGAIN today: doors (car 8) not released at Kew Bridge on 0752 Waterloo-Weybridge. How can TWO guards not see or care? /// Late to friend's wedding because 1412 train didn't bother to stop at Clapham. Not very reassuring that trains can speed through stations without announcement. What happened? /// The signs said it would call at Worplesdon! You can't just change your mind once we're onboard! Utterly useless... /// Why didn't the delayed 8.31 from Hampton Wick stop at Richmond? No announcements, thus no opportunity to disembark I don't need to be at Waterloo! Shame I have no choice but to travel with you. [SWT response: Sorry to hear you weren't notified. We will feed this back.] To add insult to injury the on-train announcements said it would stop at Richmond and Clapham Junction. [SWT response: Sorry for the poor information. The onboard announcements are automatic, apologies they weren't amended.] /// So a train due at all stations to Waterloo is now only stopping at two ??????????!!! No announcement made until train left station. /// Ended up in Surbiton on a runaway train. Board said stopping at Clapham. Train announcements then not audible. /// Trains switched at Woking at last minute with no announcement and loads of us ended up on wrong one. It's fine, your twitter...was most unhelpful and didn't say sorry though. /// I did not miss the stop - the doors closed very quickly without warning! Other passengers trapped inside too. Your staff are idiots. /// My train decided to miss out my stop entirely last week and I ended up in Guildford rather than Brookwood. No apology! /// The one on platform 6 that was due to go to Wimbledon! Ran fast through but didn't tell anyone. Lots of people now waiting for trains back again!!! /// This was a train from Waterloo. Sort it out for God's sake. People couldn't get off!
Trapped passengers (November)
Let down by SWT; a faulty door on the18:28 from Southampton to Eastleigh didn't open and by time I got to the guard we were moving. /// What's going on with 17:35 Waterloo to Reading? Non-stop since Ascot, but no announcement telling us! /// Had a train with doors that didn't open so I missed my stop this morning and now there's no trains from Queenstown Road! /// Rather than letting people get on the train, go one stop, and then cancel all other stations...why don't you say in advance? /// Surely telling passengers BEFORE a train departs that you've cancelled planned stops would be good protocol? In trying to get to Effingham Junction I got stuck on a train all the way to Waterloo. /// Got on the 30-minutes-late 06:15 Farncombe - Clapham Junction which has changed to a fast service without any announcement AT ALL. /// Initially needed to get to Chessington, then got on the 08:09 to Guildford to get to Surbiton - this then changed destination! [SWT response: There was some confusion with it stopping at Surbiton or not, I'm aware and will feed this back to our control team.] /// It called at Clapham Junction. Door alert sounded but doors failed to open. Same at Queenstown Road. Guard and driver not aware.
Trapped passengers (December)
Driver didn't stop at Queenstown Road! I love waiting for trains that go past my stop to then get on another train back. /// Any update yet? I have a fear you have a runaway train in your network... [SWT response: Hi there, this train did fail to stop at Weybridge in error. We have noted this and are looking into it. Apologies for the delay.] /// The guard didn't open the doors at Fulwell, now we are all stuck at Hampton for 30 minutes and told to fill in a form...Great service. /// Merry Christmas and thanks for the present of a trip to Basingstoke instead of Woking. Hope your staff get some training for Xmas.
Virgin-Stagecoach contribution to National Customer Service Week
[From SWT's website] "National Customer Service Week is a week long opportunity to raise awareness of customer service and the vital role it plays in successful business practice and the growth of the UK economy. National Customer Service Week aims to highlight the work of customer service professionals everywhere and it takes place from the 6-10 October 2014"
[From the Evening Standard 8.10.2014] 'A passenger “looked a little faint” when a ticket inspector charged him £1,000 for boarding the wrong train to London. The man, 40, was travelling from Birmingham New Street to Euston with 38 family and friends. They had all bought London Midland-only tickets but had accidentally boarded a faster Virgin Trains service. He decided to pay the bill rather than face a fine and prosecution. A fellow passenger said: “It was a pretty heart-stopping moment. He looked a little faint. The inspector was very matter of fact about it all and I understand he was doing his job — but it was an honest mistake. I think allowances should be made when it does look like a genuine error.” A spokesman for Virgin Trains said: “If passengers have booked to travel with another operator their tickets are not valid on [our] services.”'
[From 'Building on Success', the Virgin-Stagecoach prospectus for the East Coast franchise] ''Both our companies have been built on a similar ethos – excellence in customer service and innovation – and a desire not just to excel at what we do, but to ensure our customers enjoyed our service so much they want to travel with us again. With empowered management able to focus on local issues and to listen and act on local concerns, our businesses have never lost sight of their connection to and the importance of our customers. To deliver this we have invested heavily in both improving the products we offer and by daring to be different in developing new products and services. By bringing together our two businesses we believe we can create a franchise to achieve the objectives set by the Government and to meet the aspirations of its passengers and stakeholders.'
Stagecoach founding family's magic touch and charmed existence?
Stagecoach co-founder Brian Souter became the largest shareholder in Sunseeker luxury yachts in 2010, with a reported stake of £9.5 million. In 2013 he sold the stake for what is understood to be a "significant eight-figure sum". Sunseeker has since announced that it could shed up to 300 jobs.
Manston Airport in Kent, bought by Stagecoach co-founder Ann Gloag for £1 in 2013, has been sold for redevelopment for an undisclosed sum. 150 jobs lost.
Mrs Gloag has shares in Helius which proposes building a biomass energy plant near residential property in Southampton despite bitter opposition. Helius is propping up its weak financial base with a programme of redundancies.
Following Scott Souter's escape from a jail sentence for violent assaults, Mrs Gloag has escaped loss of her licence after driving at 90mph on a road with a 60mph limit.
Fires and other serious incidents on Stagecoach buses
Bus fires are generally rare and the number affecting Stagecoach buses appears increasingly disproportionate. Assuming our records are complete, there were 5 incidents in 2009; 9 in 2011; 11 in 2012; and 10 in both 2013 and 2014. These figures exclude any arson or overseas fires. 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, and a great grand-mother had to have a foot amputated after a bus ran over it as she boarded because the driver had not applied the handbrake. 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) Nine injured as bus crashes into Liverpool house (Liverpool Echo 3.10.2014)
[Incident occurred little more than 10 weeks after another Stagecoach bus devastated a home in Harold Wood.]
'A bus has crashed into a house in Liverpool. A stretch of Walton Breck Road in Anfield has been sealed off after a Stagecoach single-decker bus hit an empty two-storey shop near the junction with Bagnall Street at around 10.30am. The bus driver has been taken to hospital. Eight passengers have also been taken to hospital to be treated for minor injuries. The National Grid suspect the crash has damaged a gas pipe in the property, causing a low-level leak. A large police cordon is in place while a Merseyside fire service rescue unit vehicle, fire engines and an ambulance incident response unit are also at the scene within the cordon.
The bus – a Stagecoach number 17 service which runs between Liverpool city centre and Fazakerley hospital – was being hosed down by fire crews at the scene. It has now been removed but the road remains closed as structural engineers assess the damaged house.
Debris and bricks from the house that was hit are lying in the road around the bus and police are advising motorists to avoid the area.
Nearby residents told the Echo that they have been told to vacate their properties as there is a smell of gas in the area. And engineers from the National Grid are currently at the scene at the request of the fire service. People in the shops and cafés on Walton Breck Road say they didn’t hear the crash but saw fire engines and three or four ambulances arrive on the road.
It is understood the bus in question has only recently gone into service, and a spokesman for Stagecoach said staff were at the scene trying to establish what had happened and at the moment their priority was the safety of the passengers and the driver.
A spokesman for Merseyside police said: “Officers have been called to Anfield following a road traffic collision in which a bus collided with a building this morning. “Emergency services were called to Walton Breck Road at about 10.30am following reports a bus had collided with a building near to the junction with Bagnall Street. At this stage it is not believed there was anyone inside the building at the time. The bus driver has been taken to hospital along with eight passengers who suffered minor injuries. A gas engineer has been requested by the fire service and is currently at the scene. There are road closures in place at this time, including Walton Breck Road, whilst emergency services carry out enquiries at the scene. Motorists are being advised to avoid the area at this time".'
(2) Roof of double decker bus sliced off in crash in Birkenhead (Guardian website 7.12.2014)
"The roof of a double decker bus was sliced clean off after the vehicle was driven into a railway bridge in Birkenhead. The Stagecoach bus, a rail replacement service, caused trains in the area to be suspended after the crash, which took place on St Paul’s Road, on the Wirral, at about midday on Saturday. There were no passengers on the bus at the time and no one was injured.
Services between Birkenhead Central and Rock Ferry, where the crash took place, were suspended as a result of the incident. Merseyrail subsequently tweeted: “A rail replacement bus service has been requested to operate between Rock Ferry and Birkenhead Central.”
A Merseyrail spokeswoman said the Stagecoach bus had had a problem earlier in the day and was travelling from the garage to Hamilton Square station in Birkenhead, which was closed, when it crashed.
A spokesman for Stagecoach told the Liverpool Echo: “The area the vehicle was in at the time is not part of its usual route. Safety is our absolute priority and we will be carrying out an investigation into the incident.”
Police, fire and ambulance services attended the incident and the area around the bridge was cordoned off."
(3) Passengers evacuated from bus after engine catches fire (Newark Advertiser 15.12.2014)
"Two passengers had to be evacuated from a bus by the driver after its engine caught fire. The incident happened on a Stagecoach Service 29 from Newark to Southwell as it passed through Upton at around 11am. Smoke was spotted coming from the engine bay and the driver stopped the bus in the village, before calling the emergency services. One appliance from Newark Fire Station attended the scene, but couldn't prevent the bus from becoming severely damaged by fire.
A spokesman for Stagecoach said: "Our bus was operating the 10.50am Service 29 from Newark to Southwell and was passing through Upton when the driver had to stop and evacuate the two passengers on board after smoke was seen coming from the engine bay. The emergency services were called to the scene. Fortunately, nobody was injured as a result of the incident. Service 29 was resumed as quickly as possible although there was an unavoidable delay. We are sorry for the inconvenience caused to our customers. The bus was extensively damaged and we are currently investigating the cause. "Although fires on buses are a rare occurrence [!!!!!!!] our drivers are trained to manage such incidents, which includes the procedure to ensure the safe evacuation of passengers." "
The incident happened on Friday last week."
Stagecoach criticised by passengers for 'terrible' Farnborough to Camberley bus service
(Get Hampshire 5.11.2014)
"Passengers say that buses sometimes don't turn up at all, and are fed up with the company blaming traffic and roadworks. Stagecoach bus company has come under fire following a "terrible" service between Farnborough and Camberley.
Bus users say they have endured extensive delays and even buses not showing up in recent weeks, but Stagecoach says gas works, a broken down car and a school open evening are to blame.
Lesley Cottrill, 50, of Grange Road, Farnborough, uses the Stagecoach No 2 service regularly to get to work in Camberley, but has recently struggled to catch a bus in the evenings. She said: "Everyday they are late - about half an hour to an hour late, sometimes more. They keep saying it’s the traffic, it’s the traffic, it’s the traffic and they never turn up.”
The No 2 service, from Princes Mead to Camberley rail station, is scheduled to arrive roughly every half hour. However, Miss Cottrill said she waited for a bus to arrive in Camberley for more than 45 minutes on one occasion, to get a bus home after work, only for the bus to say it was out of service when it eventually showed up. She said: "There were between 15 and 20 of us waiting. We said ‘How are we supposed to get home?’ so the bus driver called his company to ask if he should take us home and in the end he did. He said he left Farnborough at 5pm and he got to Camberley train station where we were at 6:45pm, but it only takes an hour to get here." Miss Cottrill buys a seven-day pass for the No 2 service, which costs £11.80, every week and says she has no other way of getting home as no other Stagecoach routes stop near her home."
Ascot-Guildford downgrade Once a direct service to Waterloo, the Ascot-Guildford line has become a Cinderella line under Stagecoach. It suffers frequent cancellations and simply closes in snowy weather. It is now run with 2-car un-refurbished trains with no toilet facilities. These had been withdrawn from service by Southern.
Waterloo-Reading downgrade Many Waterloo-Reading trains are operated by inner-suburban trains with no toilet facilities. Remarkably, this is a frequent occurrence at weekends when far fewer trains are in service. Unsurprisingly passengers complain of vomit and worse on floors.
December timetable change on SWT Southampton shoppers and football supporters got an extra 'all stations' Saturday train to Basingstoke at 17.39 from December. The cost was met by axing the 17.24 Basingstoke- Southampton.
Call to transfer London suburban services Lord Adonis has proposed that London suburban services should be improved by transfer to London Overground, with high priority for SWT to pave the way for Crossrail 2.
Cheaper via Wales The Times reports that more generous subsidies in Wales mean that some rail fares are much cheaper. For example, Cardiff-Manchester can offer a big saving compared with Bristol-Manchester.
Issue of receipts limited SWT ticket machines now issue receipts only on request, so that fewer people who lose their tickets will be able to prove purchase. This seems to be another example of stacking the odds against passengers, like the differential of around 10p between many SWT peak and off-peak tickets which facilitates the issue of penalty fares. Naturally the change isn't presented like that, but as an initiative to save paper.
Growth in rail travel Latest figures from the Office of Rail Regulation show an increase of 5.7% in passenger numbers overall, but only 3.7% in our region. With such poor service patterns between Southampton and Bournemouth and Southampton and Portsmouth, and the huge gaps such as between the 07.38 and 08.35 departures from Southampton to Eastleigh on Mondays to Fridays, the lower growth rate seems unsurprising.
Big bus cuts in Hampshire Reduced government funding has seen significant cuts in bus services across Hampshire from the New Year. Some minor services have simply been wiped out, while strategic routes such as Salisbury-Southampton and Lymington-Southampton have seen peak services reduced below off-peak services levels on schooldays - presumably because buses transfer to school services.
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.
We can be contacted through our website: www.shrug.info
Address for correspondence: Denis Fryer, 19 Fontwell Close, Calmore, Southampton, SO40 2TN (email@example.com).