Response to Stakeholder Consultation - South Western Rail Franchise
E'mailed by Group's Co-ordinator / Acknowledgement received 16/1/2016
[NB: Since this was written, we have learned that Arriva has decided not to bid for the franchise.] I attach a response on behalf of the South Hampshire Rail Users' Group. We are grateful for the opportunity to comment and hope the following points will be helpful.
We are an 'open' group, accessible through our website, Hampshire County Council's website, and the websites of various stakeholder organisations. We were originally founded over 20 years ago by a group of South Hampshire-Waterloo commuters, but now operate mainly by e'mail. Individually, we have travelled up to three quarters of a million miles by train, and this is not unusual among long-term, long-distance commuters. We specialise in evidence-based research. Our history of South West Trains (available on our website www.shrug.info) is a substantial record of the views of passengers, Ministers, the press and representative organisations across the past two decades, with almost 200 source references.
In preparing this response I have trawled for the views of members of our group by e'mail, and added issues raised in the media. Four of us have already had the privilege of a constructive meeting with Arriva's Stakeholder Manager and were encouraged that the company's broad thinking was very comparable with our own. We have not yet heard from other potential bidders, though we have had useful meetings with First Group and National Express in the past.
Changes to train service patterns are the most detailed issue for consideration. I have therefore taken the liberty of re-ordering your questions by placing 'Train service specification' at the end.
Since three important areas where passengers want improvements are speed, capacity and reliability, I have included a short historical perspective in this introduction, which may help explain how the current shortcomings evolved. Responses to the Consultation questions therefore start on page six.
Train service specification
Metro-style radial services in the London suburban area are relatively frequent and generally serve all stations. Services in South Hampshire are part of the national rail network and raise much wider considerations. Three timetable issues arise time and time again:
* The current operator's downgrading of services between Waterloo and Portsmouth via Guildford, particularly in respect of extended journey times and the delays caused by scheduled congestion at Haslemere;
* the poor level of service between Portsmouth and Southampton; and
* the poor service pattern on the main line south of Basingstoke.
Network Rail's Wessex Route Study identified some major infrastructure projects to cope with the concomitant increase in demand for rail travel, and we sent a detailed response (available on www.shrug.info). However, their ambitious plans leave some questions unanswered, such as how trains can be switched to increasingly busy diversionary routes during engineering work, and how a mix of ordinary, high-speed and freight trains could be routed through Southampton tunnel at three-minute intervals.
There are aspirations for much faster trains in the Wessex region, and these are strongly supported by a number of MPs. However, with the costs of major projects elsewhere soaring and delivery timescales slipping, the necessary infrastructure enhancements such as the 'Electric Spine' and Woking split-level junction look unlikely to be realised soon.
It needs to be borne in mind that achieving faster end-to-end journeys can result in poorer services at intermediate stations where stops are omitted to achieve the shorter journey times. Overall, therefore, use of the congested existing infrastructure needs to aim for the most attractive range of services possible.
People outside the rail industry cannot know exactly what changes might be practicable, especially because of the intensive operations in the vicinity of Waterloo and the environmentally desirable container train workings to and from Southampton port, which relieve some exceptionally congested and polluted roads.
In general, passenger train levels in Hampshire are better than service patterns. There is probably limited scope to improve peak London commuter services at present, though peak service patterns might be operated over a longer period, particularly in the more concentrated morning peak, to spread loadings. However, there may be more opportunities for enhancements to off-peak services. ATOC's figures for average fares consistently point to many rail journeys being relatively local in nature, yet train services for such journeys in and around South Hampshire are in many respects unattractive.
Coach and rapidly-reducing bus services generally don't fill the gaps. For example, there are few coach services between Portsmouth and Bournemouth, and the journey takes just under 5 hours using buses, whether via Lymington or Salisbury. Based on the rail mileage, this is equivalent to an average journey speed of under 11mph. So a direct Portsmouth-Bournemouth train service, even with many intermediate stops, looks like an attractive proposition.
The case for rail service changes has already been made at a high level. Michael Fallon, as Minister for Portsmouth, identified improved connectivity for rail passenger services in the Solent area as a prime aspiration for boosting the local economy.
With this in mind, and with reference to timetables back to the area's first multiple unit trains in 1957, I have attempted to identify some changes to off-peak service patterns which might help address issues which passengers have raised. These are shown as draft timetables in minutes past each hour, but they are not intended to be more than illustrative patterns which may or may not be practicable. I could not think of a clearer way of presenting the ideas. A related issue is that off-peak travel opportunities could be better advertised.
Need for change of operator
South West Trains has been an unpopular franchise with passengers, representative organisations and some ministers and we have plenty of documentation to support this view, gathered over two decades. It was therefore good to see on the Transport Focus website that you are looking for a new operator.
Passengers expect courteous and considerate treatment, whoever provides their services. Stagecoach is notorious for its often dismissive and hostile attitude to passengers. This and its inflexibility, even in serving disabled people, set it apart from other operators. It is clear from many press reports that local MPs are well apprised of this, and there is undoubtedly substantial and widespread aspiration for change.
Despite its protests to the contrary, Stagecoach is a top-down organisation, and tightly controlled from the top. This has caused PIRC to raise issues about its governance. SWT's 'independent' Passengers Panel, which now appears to have gone underground after new members were hand- picked with the considerable incentive of free season tickets, is tightly controlled by a non- executive Stagecoach director.
Because Stagecoach is a top-down organisation, it sometimes seems to have little idea of what its passengers need. Its recent timetable 'improvements' are remarkable:
* Evening Waterloo-Yeovil trains which run beyond Yeovil Junction to Yeovil Pen Mill, despite commuters having had to leave their cars at Yeovil Junction in the morning;
* Bruton-Waterloo trains toasted by some local headmasters on SWT's Twitter, despite the first arrival into Waterloo being at 19.50; and
* new Sunday evening Salisbury-Waterloo services which provide Salisbury and Andover passengers with connections at Basingstoke to the Midlands and North, and new Sunday evening services from Waterloo to Salisbury which race past Salisbury and Andover passengers who have come off trains from the Midlands and North at Basingstoke.
The Stagecoach founders have always focused on buying and selling commercial assets for personal gain, with passengers and staff as little more than pawns. Examples: Hampshire Bus (less profitable elements hived off for a large profit, including demolition of Southampton's bus station for redevelopment), East London Buses (sold and repurchased at a bargain price), and Manston Airport (sold for redevelopment in defiance of the Prime Minister's wishes).
On a personal note, most people probably recognise that those in public life occasionally make unguarded comments for which they quickly apologise. However, I was sickened to read that Stagecoach Chairman Brian Souter had used a speech to spin a complex and calculated joke making fun of people with various mental impairments. Both the Prime Minister and his predecessor have spoken movingly of their grief at losing a child. For years I was the only relative able to help support my two young nieces and nephew who suffered mental impairment and died horribly through Huntington's Disease. It's time SWT at least had a new operator with a more human face.
How the Stagecoach franchises damaged SWT
Stagecoach won the first SWT franchise with an award of £350 million over 7 years which financial experts considered particularly generous. It disposed of so many drivers and middle managers that services were reduced and standards collapsed. Former Conservative Minister Steven Norris noted: “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.”
SWT Managing Director Andrew Haines publicised a £3.5 billion range of service and infrastructure improvements which were presented as central to Stagecoach's bid for the second franchise. He stated: “We believe that our proposals bring the most passenger benefits, and that they bring them more quickly than anyone else’s.” Crucially, they included replacement trains and 'gold-plating' to make infrastructure in the London area more robust. News was leaked only 10 days later that, “SWT had impressed the SRA by its straightforward approach to the bidding process.”
When the second franchise award to Stagecoach was announced, the BBC’s transport correspondent Paul Clifton reported: “Here’s the opinion of one regular SWT commuter, sent to me by e’mail: “The award to Stagecoach is the cruellest betrayal of passengers departing from Southampton since the unsinkable Titanic set sail”.” The company’s Head of Rail, Graham Eccles, then demonstrated its 'straightforward' approach by proclaiming 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”.
The preference for Stagecoach bore no relation to SWT’s performance. It had remained the worst- performing passenger train operator in 2001. In the first 9 months of the year, passengers spent the equivalent of over 573 years waiting at its stations for late running trains.
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 Strategic Rail Authority to use the franchise renewal as an opportunity to secure real improvements for the travelling public. The Strategic Rail Authority 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 eventually confirmed the second SWT franchise in terms of giving Stagecoach the chance to address its abysmal performance. The period was reduced from 20 years to just three, with SRA head Richard Bowker commenting that the agreement would mean the company 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”.
The new franchise term was then cut from 20 years to just three. 'Gold plating' of the infrastructure fell from view, and the fleet of replacement trains was reduced from 785 carriages to 665.
The Telegraph later commented that this was the franchise deal which “pulled the company out of reverse gear, since when the shares have trebled in value. It turned out to be a licence to print money.” Rail expert Christian Wolmar commented similarly that “The interim three-year arrangement agreed by Richard Bowker at the SRA in 2002 … was far too generous to Stagecoach. Under that contract, Stagecoach has been making super-profits at the expense of passengers and the taxpayer, netting a fabulous £58.9 million in the last year on turnover of around £500 million. That’s 12% of turnover. As I mentioned in my book, ‘On the Wrong Line’, a senior Stagecoach executive told me privately that the SRA had been a pushover and the company had been delighted by the deal.”
At the end of 2004, SWT tried to improve its performance by introducing a much slower timetable. The Rail Passengers Committee was scathing. Their press release stated, “On Monday 13 December, passengers will experience new timetables; and some will be shocked to find that their journey will take longer, or have a reduced service… Passengers want shorter journeys, not longer ones, but they are going to have to put up with them all the same. It will be completely wrong if targets are not made tougher and passengers do not get compensation for poor performance, even though their journey is slower than it was before and the performance figures show an entirely fictitious improvement”. The Daily Telegraph commented, “SWT has struck on one of the great philosophical truths of all time: the lower the standards that you set yourself, the easier they are to meet”.
With SWT so profitable for Stagecoach, the company was clearly prepared to win a further franchise at almost any cost, and bid about £600 million more than its rivals for a third term. The 120 quality Wessex Electric carriages, built at taxpayers' expense, were then removed to reduce leasing costs. The harder-seated Waterloo-Portsmouth stock was transferred to the Weymouth line, and outer suburban stock to the Portsmouth line. The new 2007 timetable on the Waterloo- Weymouth mainline was non-compliant with the original franchise specification and created some spectacular increases in journey times between medium-sized towns.
Franchising to Stagecoach had then sown all the seeds of recent problems: insufficient and unsuitable rolling stock, slowed services, and infrastructure in the London area remaining far from 'gold-plated' and failing day after day.
[Source references are in our History of SWT on www.shrug.info]
Responses to consultation questions
The six specified passenger priorities are fine. Two more suggest themselves.
(7) Passengers to be treated with courtesy and consideration.
SWT's Twitter feed records daily complaints of passengers being harassed, or spoken to rudely, disinterestedly or aggressively, sometimes just for requesting information. Others feel they are treated like criminals after getting the wrong ticket or having boarded without a ticket because of unstaffed stations or malfunctioning ticket machines. A few are even left in tears. As Sir Peter Hendy commented: "People hate the suburban rail service, they hate it. If you make a mistake on your Oyster card on the Tube, we'll refund it. On South West Trains, they'll fine you. That's a big philosophical difference."
The SWT experience can be particularly bad for disabled people. Geoff Holt crossed the Atlantic single-handedly, but was seething with anger and physically injured after hostile staff didn't want to carry his wheelchair by train between Ryde Pier Head and Ryde Esplanade. Where else in twenty first century Britain are such low standards evident?
(8) Rolling stock to be appropriate for the length of journey.
A high proportion of Portsmouth line passengers now have to travel in cramped outer-suburban stock, which also forms 20% of services between Waterloo and Southampton. This is a major issue for Portsmouth area MPs, and both Claire Perry and Robert Goodwill have recognised that the situation is unsatisfactory.
In addition, SWT's rolling stock shortages have resulted in suburban stock, without toilet facilities, being routinely used on slow longer-distance services, particularly between Waterloo and Reading. Twitter confirms that this has caused serious problems for some passengers and even complaints of fouled carriages. Scarcely twenty first century standards?
These are also fine. The third franchise objective, "Deliver an excellent experience for passengers which leads to significantly improved passenger satisfaction" crucially recognises that the current SWT experience leaves 'significant' scope for improvement.
Stagecoach's prospectus for the current franchise referred to putting passengers at the heart of everything it does. Yet it is the only operator which has since lost a franchise extension for refusing to sign up to a package of customer service improvements.
Whilst Stagecoach's prospectus for the new franchise will probably have the usual title, 'Building on Success', this seems to refer only to building on the two founders' billion pound wealth. The headline figures are that they hold more than 149 million shares in their company, whilst Transport Focus' overall satisfaction scorings show that someone is dissatisfied with their journey on SWT 41 million times a year.
People understand that franchising will involve striking a balance between private profit and public service. However, as a consequence of middle management being pared to the bone, SWT has no strategic approach to problems which are raised, for example on Twitter, day after day. Dissatisfied passengers frequently demonstrate an acute awareness and frustration that their complaints will change nothing.
Capacity increases are understandably being concentrated on the London inner and outer suburban areas but, at busy times, it is not unusual for passengers to have to stand in excess of one hour on the main lines. This could be mitigated by returning the class 442 units to the Weymouth line and class 444 units to the Portsmouth line; by running 10-coach trains on these routes all day; and (with a big advertising campaign) by introducing a regularly available cheap off- peak ticket such as Southern's 'Daysave' in place of a limited quota of cheap Advance tickets.
This approach would help address an issue of unsuitable rolling stock, which Ministers have already recognised (see comments under 'Passenger satisfaction' above).
If some form of off-peak 'Daysave' season ticket were introduced, which allowed commuters to travel in the shoulder peaks at less than the normal season ticket rate, this could help spread peak loadings. In DfT's announcement of the current SWT franchise award, it was 'expected' that a cheaper season ticket of this kind would be introduced, but Stagecoach did not deliver.
There is also a case for re-introducing genuine reductions for off-peak day return travel. Outside SWT's London area, Stagecoach has reduced the savings on off-peak fares to nominal amounts, typically 10p or 20p, even for quite long journeys. So Southampton-Weymouth (63 miles) is £27.20 return in the peak, and £27.00 off-peak. The differential can help generate penalty fares but offers little incentive to travel off peak, unless the passenger is entitled to buy a railcard. Remarkably, GTR's off-peak day return rate from Southampton to Brighton (62 miles) is £15.40, and the same fare applies, beyond Brighton, to Eastbourne and Hastings.
There are two issues which arise from designing trains to cram in more standing passengers:
(1) it is diametrically opposed to the major 'passenger satisfaction' objective of better value for money. Passengers strongly resent having to pay some of the highest fares in Europe for an ever- decreasing space to stand; and
(2) while the railways have achieved a commendable safety record in recent years, public perceptions of rail will change hugely if there is an accident in which the scale of deaths and injuries is associated with overcrowding.
Future impacts on demand
Impacts in South Hampshire and East Dorset are ongoing rather than past or future. The population continues to expand and people are increasingly mobile. During December 2015, proposals were announced for a further 20,000 homes in Hampshire, with a continuingly strong focus on the Eastleigh-Fareham 'motorway axis'.
Ongoing housing developments are substantial but by no means uniform. They include green field developments; brown field developments such as on the former VT shipyard in Woolston; luxury flats in city centres; a big expansion of student accommodation in Winchester, Southampton, Portsmouth and Bournemouth (there are 40,000 university students in Southampton alone); and, spanning the Dorset border, retirement homes in the New Milton-Christchurch-Bournemouth area. All this is on top of new commuter homes in towns en route to Waterloo, such as Basingstoke and Woking.
Performance and reliability
It is clear from Twitter that performance and reliability in the SWT suburban area is highly unsatisfactory, and this is creating aspirations for suburban services to transfer to London Overground.
This is an issue where passengers need to beware what they wish for. The current franchise promised a 'right time railway', but has failed miserably in that objective. On SWT, performance enhancing measures often entail missing scheduled stops or terminating trains short of destination. This improves train performance but exacerbates overcrowding on other services and makes passengers on the affected trains unnecessarily late.
Often these changes are not announced or passengers do not hear them (eg faulty intercom or passenger using ear plugs or headphones). Home-going Richmond residents don't like being taken on to Staines, and passengers with connections at Clapham Junction don't like being taken to Waterloo, especially when it makes them late for work.
Insistence on closing doors 30 seconds early in the faces of passengers trying to board, when 10 seconds is ample for a punctual departure, is very irritating. Stagecoach is now experimenting with a countdown clock at New Malden, which tells passengers how many seconds are left before the 30-second threshold. This seems a ludicrous waste of money. It would be much more customer friendly simply to schedule all services to run one minute later than shown in public timetables.
At Weybridge connections between mainline and Chertsey line services are notoriously unreliable, yet the Chertsey trains sometimes leave up to three minutes early.
From 2007, Stagecoach slashed the service at Totton (by population, the fourth largest town between Southampton and Weymouth). Direct trains from Waterloo then took 25 minutes longer. Although faster journeys from London to Totton are theoretically possible by changing at Southampton, SWT insists on sending off the Totton train 30 seconds early, even when people are racing along the platform to make the connection.
It argues that this benefits the ‘vast majority’ of passengers. However, since these trains are allowed three minutes for a Beaulieu Road stop which few of them are scheduled to make, leaving Southampton on time simply means standing at Brockenhurst for 28 minutes rather than 25. Punctuality is indeed important for passengers, but a major reason is the need to make connections.
Further issues are covered in our comments on 'Train service specification'.
Serious disruption, from events such as storms, or fatalities in the suburban area, generally disrupt services for the remainder of the day. In these cases, the operator should focus on getting stranded passengers to where they want to be. Time after time, passengers report that, once lines reopen, successive trains pass them, often empty, because Stagecoach is concerned only with getting stock to where it would normally be.
People don't expect to pay rail fares to travel by bus and, where this happens, there are particular problems such as cycles and wheelchairs not being accommodated. Early and late trains are already replaced by buses, often for months at a time, and this can cause huge inconvenience for commuters. Wherever possible, therefore, trains should be diverted via other routes during planned engineering work.
That said, this is not always possible and, even where it is, there will normally be stations without trains on the closed section of route. Our response to Network Rail's Wessex Route Study noted that service increases could make diversions more difficult. For example, will mainline services between Waterloo and Woking be able to be diverted via Chertsey when more frequent Windsor line services are introduced?
Whatever happens, replacement bus services need to be fit-for-purpose. Too often SWT passengers tweet that they do not run as advertised, are of very poor quality, miss scheduled connections with trains, or have drivers who do not know the route and get lost. There would therefore seem to be a case for Network Rail to run a fleet of dedicated vehicles which could be employed wherever scheduled engineering work is taking place and with drivers who have had appropriate route training.
Partnership working and collaboration
There needs to be a forum which interested official parties attend at specified intervals to share news and aspirations, and determine how best to meet the interests of rail users. BR Chairman Sir Bob Reid, who was held in high esteem by Mrs Thatcher's transport minister David Mitchell, was renowned for answering questions with the further question, "What's best for passengers?".
Turning to rail users and user groups, those interested could be routinely consulted on day-to-day issues and proposed developments through on-line questionnaires. SWT's Passengers Panel has always been a small and tightly-controlled mouthpiece for Stagecoach, so achieves virtually nothing. Southern's big on-line panel, conversely, has tried to reach out and test opinion. Southern notably scrapped a proposed new Coastway East timetable when they discovered passengers preferred the existing service. As stated above, there were considerable concerns about SWT's 2004 and 2007 timetable changes, including by PassengerFocus, but these were ignored.
Community rail and other local partnerships
Community rail partnerships do useful work, generally in more rural areas. They can drive up ridership on secondary rail routes, for example by making station environments more attractive, through publicity material, and by hosting special events. They can engage communities and help promote tourism. Businesses which benefit can reciprocate such help through displaying rail- related publicity.
There may not be much scope for more community rail activity on a route basis in the SWT area. However, there could be considerable scope for expanding such activities to smaller stations on longer routes, such as between Fareham and Southampton.
The Island Line tends to be promoted as a tourist attraction, but worn-out and rough-riding Tube trains have limited appeal. It needs to be borne in mind that Island residents, including many who have retired, are big users of public transport. Bus services are much better and better-used than in most mainland semi-rural areas, including evenings and Sundays. The Island is even favoured over London in having buses operating on most routes on Christmas Day.
The truncated railway might be better suited to modern tramway operation with more passing places for a frequent service. Tram drivers would be seen as accessible, giving vulnerable people confidence to travel. This could boost all-year travel and provide an alternative kind of tourist attraction, given that there are no public tram operations south of the Croydon area. In time, it might be possible to extend the system.
As to who might want to run the tramway, GoAhead as the Island bus operator might be interested in a 'joined-up' transport operation. Alternatively, some Island buses are driven by volunteers, and various roles might be filled by retired people who often welcome such opportunities. The tramway could become a kind of Island Enterprise.
Clearly, conversion costs would be the big problem. However, there could be substantial savings on maintenance, the trams might be battery operated with re-charging facilities if the relevant technology advances, and several station sites/buildings might lend themselves to commercial development or community workshops. Given the Island's relative isolation, could EU grants be available, as for major projects in the Outer Hebrides?
A cheaper option would appear to be newer ex-Tube stock. 1979 District Line stock, including diesel conversions, also comes to mind, if the carriages could fit Ryde's awkward tunnel, possibly with lowering of the tunnel floor if necessary/possible. Whatever stock is used, the interior needs to be appropriate. People don't want to sit with their backs to windows on a scenic route. In addition, there needs to be a passing point to facilitate half-hourly services at busy times. The current 40/20 minute intervals each hour don't fit well with ferry services at Ryde.
Third party funded changes
We are not aware of any such changes.
Waiting for trains on SWT-managed stations can be a cold and miserable experience. Waiting rooms are locked when stations are left unstaffed. For example, at Totton, the fourth largest town between Southampton and Weymouth, the waiting room is locked from 10.00 on Mondays-Fridays and all day on Saturdays and Sundays.
Comparisons with some smaller Hampshire towns are instructive. At Emsworth, operated by GTR, there are staff until 13.15 on Mondays-Saturdays, and the waiting room is furnished more like a living room. At Romsey, operated by GWR, there are staff until 13.30 on Mondays-Saturdays, toilet facilities, a waiting room with a display of historic photos and good stock of tourist leaflets, and a privately run cafe.
In general terms, SWT stations have an unwelcoming feel. Toilets, where they exist, are often out of use. After one wet Isle of Wight festival weekend, a notice was posted at Southampton Central banning people in wellington boots from the waiting room. At the same station, the rotting wooden canopy edges, with pieces starting to fall off, suggest a neglected backwater.
When Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis, made a 2,200 mile fact-finding trip around England on 40 trains, he singled out Southampton Central station for criticism. At 8pm there was no refreshment outlet on a station used by 5.5 million passengers a year. Writing in Parliament’s in-house journal, he described the experience as the “low point of the week”. In addition, he used the passenger helpline for another complaint but, like countless SWT passengers before him, got no reply.
A widespread problem is lack of attention to detail, such as station posters advertising local bus services which no longer exist or have been renumbered.
It's often not clear to passengers just where they need to wait for replacement buses.
Departure screens are needed at all stations, especially so that passengers know when there is disruption. Redbridge station has lacked them for years.
Engineering work notices at Lymington Pier station are frequently out of date - four weeks out of date on 10 January this year. The station's 'London and South East' route map now omits SWT lines altogether. The sun has bleached out the relevant colour, leaving places such as Woking apparently remote from a railway. At Lymington Town station, the corrugated plastic sign warning of huge fines for not buying a parking permit has split and blown away, a strip at a time, in recent years.
Safer access between modes of transport is currently a feature of work outside Southampton and Bournemouth stations by the relevant local authorities, and this is achieving big improvements.
There are still issues at some stations. Passengers arriving by bus at Totton station from any part of the town have to cross a dangerous main road. Drivers leaving the small station car park have a blind corner to the right. There needs at least to be a crossing with lights.
Ideally, all station sites need to be surveyed for safe access.
Fares and ticketing
With such a complex fares system, many passengers want help to ensure they get the best value ticket. The presence of staff at stations and on trains also helps engender a feeling of security, and reduces vandalism. Welcoming retail staff can also be a railway's best ambassadors and help make people want to travel again. Stagecoach's cuts in booking office provision were challenged in an Early Day Motion which attracted cross-party support.
Too often on SWT, passengers face an unstaffed station, posters warning of penalties for boarding without a ticket, and slow, difficult-to-use and/or malfunctioning ticket machines. Long queues can build up, and someone struggling to use a machine can become increasingly embarrassed by mutterings from people behind.
Extraordinarily, SWT's website often reports booking office closures during opening hours at stations such as Southampton Central, Portsmouth & Southsea, Portsmouth Harbour, Winchester and Woking.
At the very least, the railway needs an operator who concentrates on selling tickets rather than on threatening or issuing penalty fares. After Stagecoach outbid its rivals for a new franchise in 2007, it issued an infamous memo telling guards to treat passengers as fare dodgers even if they asked to buy a ticket. Guards would be accountable for accepting excuses even if passengers said they had queued for 15 minutes and could have missed their train.
The memo also said that children must be penalized, including at weekends and bank holidays when cheaper fares were available. Guards must tell passengers they could be liable for an additional £20 on the spot fine and could be prosecuted for fare evasion. “From now, your commercial duties will be measured in three main areas: the amount of revenue you collect; the type of tickets that you sell; and the number of penalty fare warnings that you issue.”
Opinion may have curbed Stagecoach a little since then, but the mean-spirited attitude to passengers constantly surfaces on social media. A passenger who had to board an overcrowded train without a ticket was told on Twitter that he needed to jump out at every station and look for the guard in order to avoid a penalty fare. Vulnerable passengers have been thrown off trains at isolated stations, for example because of problems using bank cards.
No personal experiences received. Twitter suggests that there are technical problems, for example when card reading equipment doesn't work. It is a common experience on buses that valid smartcards and concessionary passes are rejected by the card reader. The bus driver then tells the passenger it's OK to travel. Twitter dialogues make clear that card reader faults on SWT can result in the affected passenger being disbelieved and issued a penalty fare.
It's not clear why smartcard technology in particular should be used to manage passenger demand - the price of the ticket is the crucial factor.
The meaning of an integrated journey experience is also unclear. There has been speculation in the press about smartcards completely replacing paper tickets. Given the big range of fare levels for long journeys, isn't there a danger of people getting a nasty shock after their journey, and the advent of a consequent new industry for processing complaints about amounts paid?
People want smart cards, but they also want safeguards. When the penalty fares scheme was introduced, permit to travel machines were presented as an important safeguard for passengers. Stagecoach has removed them from virtually all SWT stations, presumably because penalty fares can produce big income if applied ruthlessly.
Stagecoach has closed all information centres except Waterloo, even though these centres were always busy. The change means that at bigger stations, such as Southampton Central, queues build at ticket offices because passengers want information as well at tickets. Booking office closures and reduced opening times at smaller stations tend to exacerbate this problem.
Stagecoach is now saying that it will provide more staff to help passengers buy their tickets, and that this will involve the redeployment of existing booking office clerks. Presumably, therefore, efforts will be concentrated on showing passengers how to operate machines so as to promote an impersonal service for the future. Booking offices need to be open for longer hours and travel centres reinstated at major stations.
Information about the causes of delays is often itself delayed, or even non-existent.
Onboard announcements in trains which split en route are not programmed to tell passengers which coach they are in. Southern/GTR has managed to do this for many years.
Station announcements could be more helpful. In BR days, as soon as a train arrived at an interchange station, announcements would tell them which platforms connecting services would depart from. They now have to look for summary departure screens which can be inconvenient when they have luggage / small children etc, and may result in loss of a connection. The announcements meanwhile tell them things such as who operates the train they have just left.
The time taken to obtain tickets should be monitored by independent observers. So should the quality of information offered and the state of basic facilities such as train and station toilets, and whether booking offices are open during the prescribed hours. Independent organisations occasionally undertake such exercises, with depressing results for some franchises.
Delay Repay, as operated by GTR, would be a welcome advance. SWT would be surprised to hear that they operate it already, since they protest on Twitter day after day that they don't, and blame their inferior compensation arrangements on their contract with DfT. Presumably this was to have been one of the customer service benefits which Stagecoach refused to offer in return for an extension of the current franchise.
Security and safety
Security is mainly an issue at quieter periods of the day. Twitter shows that passengers occasionally suffer assaults on trains, and it would be good if guards could be more visible on lightly loaded services. Where guards are present at incidents SWT supports their refusal to intervene on grounds of their own personal safety. SWT's community support officers have always operated in groups and focused on intimidatory revenue protection manoeuvres rather than on looking after passengers. If guards routinely walked through trains asking if anyone needed a ticket, they could promote security and increase revenue at the same time.
Although station ticket barriers are supposed to promote passenger security, they similarly seem to be used mainly to protect revenue. They are often out of use off-peak, and generally so in late evening. Guildford station is noted as a hotspot for late evening anti-social behaviour. GWR won't stop their trains at Cosham after the booking office's Monday-Friday closure time of 19.45, because of anti-social behaviour.
Train service specification
There is clearly scope for improvement on SWT. Abstract concepts such as 'skip-stopping' (is this the same as 'stop-skipping'?) and re-arranging paths may be applicable in some cases, but passengers need to be consulted on changes, especially against a background of fast-declining rural and inter-urban bus services.
First and last trains
The first London train to call at Ashurst on Mondays to Fridays is at 06.41, and it does not reach Waterloo until 08.16. It arrives at Southampton Central at 06.51 and GWR services leave at 06.53 for Portsmouth (not treated as a connection) and at 06.46 for Cardiff. There are therefore aspirations for an earlier service. On Saturdays, when there are few commuters, the first London service from Ashurst is at 06.17.
The obvious solution is for the 05.45 Poole-Waterloo service to start a few minutes earlier and call additionally at Ashurst and Totton. It previously called at Totton, and there was a big outcry when Stagecoach cut the stop, leaving a gap of one hour in the town's direct London commuter services, but the company listened with deaf ears.
Saturday services generally reflect the Monday-Friday off-peak timetable, so are covered by the comments on improving service patterns below. One particular issue is that there is a gap in the Saturday Southampton-Salisbury service between the 21.37 and 23.40 SWT trains.
Sunday services raise a number of issues:
* Trains often have long station stops. Waterloo-Weymouth trains have so much slack time that they defy a scheduling convention by taking as long from Waterloo to Southampton as trains in the opposite direction.
* The journey time from London to Christchurch, an historic tourist location with exceptionally attractive waterfront, is more than 30 minutes longer than on other days.
* The Weymouth-Waterloo trains arrive at Bournemouth immediately after the departure of the Cross Country trains to Manchester.
* The two trains per hour from Southampton to Eastleigh depart four minutes apart.
* In alternate hours, when the Romsey-Salisbury trains call at Mottisfont & Dunbridge and Dean, there is only a three minute connection at Salisbury with Exeter trains. Observation has established that the connection depends on a member of staff being available to shout at passengers to hurry.
These issues might be resolved or mitigated by:
- starting London trains about 15 minutes earlier from Weymouth and Poole;
- reducing the slack in the Waterloo-Weymouth trains, and introducing a Christchurch stop in both directions;
- running the Waterloo-Poole and Waterloo-Portsmouth Harbour via Fareham trains as separate services all day (currently they are attached between Waterloo and Eastleigh until mid-afternoon); and
- stopping Romsey-Salisbury trains alternately at Mottisfont & Dunbridge or Dean.
[Note: Reasonable connections could be maintained with the token Yeovil line services at Weymouth]
Illustrative service patterns are in Table 1 below.
Some further issues:
* There is a good Sunday morning service from Salisbury to Exeter, offering opportunities for longer distance day trips. However, gaps in the GWR service between Portsmouth, Southampton and Salisbury discourage such journeys. There is no connection from Portsmouth or Southampton into the 08.51 Salisbury-Exeter. Portsmouth passengers wishing to connect into the 09.51 or 11.51 Salisbury-Exeter need to catch the 07.42 or 09.42 SWT services, and change at Southampton as well as at Salisbury (journey time equivalent to an average speed of 25mph from Portsmouth to Salisbury). Given that GWR has a diesel depot at Westbury, and SWT at Salisbury, either operator is well placed to fill the gaps.
* The GWR train which would be the 12.08 from Portsmouth Harbour to Cardiff in the standard sequence, starts from Brighton instead. This means that Portsmouth passengers have to depart at 11.42 to connect into the 13.51 from Salisbury to Exeter.
* The trains which would be the 12.32 and 14.32 from Salisbury to Portsmouth Harbour in the normal sequence run to Brighton instead. This means that passengers connecting from Exeter at Salisbury, or from Manchester at Southampton, or just travelling from Southampton to Portsmouth, have an additional change at Fareham, and additional 20 minutes in journey time to reach Portsmouth.
Since the introduction of GTR's connecting Sunday services between Brighton and Southampton, there is a question as to whether GWR trains really need to serve Brighton. Their pathing is so awkward that they take about 100-110 minutes between Brighton and Southampton with 8 intermediate stops, while the GTR trains have virtually identical timings with 20 stops. Stock saved by not serving Brighton could be used to strengthen the busiest Portsmouth-Cardiff services.
* There is a gap in the Sunday Southampton-Salisbury service between the 21.10 SWT train and 22.57 GWR train.
Illustrative Pattern 1 - Sunday southbound
|Southamnpton Central arr||42||56||05||05||29|
|Southampton Central dep||43||57||06||06||31|
|Mottisfont & Dunbridge||25|
A: Alternate hours; M: Cross Country service from Manchester; PH: To Portsmouth Harbour.
Illustrative Pattern 1 - Sunday northbound
|Mottisfont & Dunbridge||26|
|Southampton Central arr||08||13||38||45||45|
|Southampton Central dep||10||15||40||59||59|
A: Alternate hours; M: Cross Country service to Manchester; PH: From Portsmouth Harbour.
Changes to current service patterns
[Mondays-Fridays off-peak and Saturdays]
* Faster trains between Waterloo and Portsmouth
MPs in the Portsmouth area have been petitioning for this for years. The case seems excellent, because Portsmouth-Havant-Gosport-Fareham is the most populous conurbation on the South Coast. Portsmouth is also the principal rail/sea route to the Isle of Wight. There have been considerable housing and commercial developments in the area, and Portsmouth now ranks highly for leisure attractions.
Stagecoach routinely dismisses requests for speed improvements on the basis that they cannot omit stops because of heavy demand at intermediate stations. In fact, they have reduced the standard Monday-Saturday service at some intermediate stations as well as introducing slower trains.
|Year||Monday-Saturday departures from Waterloo (minutes past each hour)||Number of intermediate stops between Waterloo and Portsmouth & Southsea||Normal timing between Waterloo and Portsmouth & Southsea (minutes)||Normal timing between Waterloo and Portsmouth Harbour (minutes)|
|53||14||107 (overtaken at Haslemere by 08 from Waterloo)||111|
|15||n/a (terminates at Haslemere)||n/a||n/a|
|45||15||119 (overtaken at Haslemere by 00 from Waterloo)||n/a (terminates at Portsmouth & Southsea)|
A station stop typically costs 2-3 minutes on the third rail electric network, depending on factors such as line speeds. Even allowing for pathing issues, it seems remarkable that a 92-minute schedule allowing 12 stops a few years ago now allows only 6. Semi-fast trains from Portsmouth to Waterloo generally have even longer timings than in the opposite direction. Those arriving at Waterloo after midday on Saturdays have a further 4 or 6 minutes added. In addition, the final semi-fast service from Portsmouth to Waterloo is at 20.45 on Mondays-Saturdays, compared with 22.30 from Southampton to Waterloo. Worse still, passengers complain of routine delays at Haslemere, where Portsmouth trains arrive as little as 3 minutes behind stopping services.
The previous paths from Waterloo have been allocated to other services and the line between Havant and Portsmouth has become busier through the more ambitious operations of GTR. That said, it should not be impossible to shave a few minutes off journey times, and the following hourly pattern is suggested:
- One semi-fast service from Waterloo to Portsmouth service to be accelerated by about 8 minutes, and both services in the opposite direction to be accelerated by about 3-5 minutes, depending on any changes to other services. This would be based on earlier arrivals and later departures at Portsmouth Harbour, helping make connections with the Isle of Wight ferries more robust;
- the Worplesdon stop to be incorporated in alternate Portsmouth services using slack time arising from pathing constraints;
- the Waterloo-Haslemere and Waterloo-Portsmouth stopping services to start from Waterloo 6 minutes earlier (in the paths of the current Waterloo- Poole and Waterloo-Portsmouth via Fareham services), with acceleration to past timings and both terminating at Haslemere. This should make the timetable much more robust; and
- smaller stations south of Haslemere to have a faster independent service to and from Guildford (to and from Woking if they could use the latter station's west-facing bay platform).
Illustrative pattern 2 - southbound
|Portsmouth & Southsea||28||45||55|
W: Possible extension from Woking.
Illustrative pattern 2 - northbound
|Portsmouth & Southsea||08||22||52|
W: Possible extension to Woking.
* Improved service between Portsmouth and Southampton.
Portsmouth-Southampton must rank high in the league of poor rail services between neighbouring British cities. A SWT 'all stations' local service, and GWR semi-fast service between Portsmouth Harbour and Cardiff arrive and depart at Portsmouth a few minutes apart in each hour.
An hourly semi-fast Portsmouth-Salisbury service operated from 1957 (for a few years from 1973, alternate trains extended to and from Bristol) until it was 'suspended' (sic) in 1983 during single line working for repairs to Southampton tunnel. This service, along with a Southampton- Portsmouth stopping service, provided twice-hourly departures from St Denys, Woolston and Netley.
St Denys is the principal station for eastern Southampton, close to the city's second largest suburban shopping centre which is heavily used by Southampton University students . Fifty years ago it had half-hourly services on both the main line and Portsmouth line. Today, it has an hourly Southampton-Portsmouth service and hourly Romsey-Salisbury service. These arrive and depart at Southampton Central a few minutes apart in each hour.
Woolston station is adjacent to bus stands where many bus routes converge before crossing the Itchen Bridge. Big new housing developments are under construction on the former VT ship building site. There is generally just an hourly stopping train service.
Netley has seen substantial housing developments in recent decades and could reasonably be described as suburbanised.
There is clearly an unfulfilled demand at these stations. GTR manages to incorporate some stops in its peak services, but principally westbound. As a result Netley, for example, has Monday-Friday peak services to Southampton Central at 07.49, 07.59, 08.18 and 08.34. In the evening peak there is just the hourly SWT service back from Southampton. Interestingly, the GTR services have some faster point-to-point timings than those operated by SWT.
The Strategic Rail Authority's Strategic Plan of 2002 identified the need for a half-hourly service seven days a week between Portsmouth Harbour and Bristol Temple Meads by 2005-06.
Desirable criteria for an additional service might therefore be:
- to achieve a departure and arrival at both Southampton and Portsmouth at half hourly intervals;
- half hourly services at St Denys, Woolston and Netley;
- connections at Fareham between these stations and GTR services to and from Brighton;
- direct working to and from Salisbury, replacing the current Romsey-Salisbury service west of Southampton; and
- depending on the post-electrification GWR timetable, extension beyond Salisbury to destinations such as Bristol, Swindon and the West of England via Westbury (the abandoned direct services between Portsmouth and Penzance were very well used). This might replace the current Brighton /Southampton-Great Malvern services and allow the Portsmouth-Cardiff services to be accelerated.
The following pattern is suggested:
- An additional hourly, semi-fast, train between Portsmouth and Southampton, leaving Portsmouth in the path of the current Southampton stopping service, and Southampton at around 20 minutes past the hour. This could possibly extend to Salisbury (in place of the Southampton-Salisbury leg of the current Romsey-Salisbury service) and perhaps beyond Salisbury, as a GWR service. Trains to connect with GTR Brighton services at Fareham.
- The stopping service between Portsmouth and Southampton to extend to and from Bournemouth. For this purpose, the westbound service to run from Portsmouth in the path of the current Waterloo via Eastleigh service. The latter might be re-timed to connect at Winchester with CrossCountry services to Manchester. A direct hourly service between Portsmouth and Wareham was a highlight of the new Portsmouth- Southampton electric services from 1990, but it was slowed by layovers at Brockenhurst and did not fit with the changed timings of Cross Country services to and from Bournemouth.
These changes could bring the following advantages:
- Southampton and Portsmouth both to have arrivals from the other at approximately half- hourly intervals, promoting connectional opportunities (a metro-style service).
- Doubled service from St Denys Woolston and Netley with connections at Fareham with GTR trains to and from Brighton.
- More services to and from GWR destinations to meet demand (GWR's Portsmouth- Cardiff trains are notorious for overcrowding, and a high percentage of seats are reserved).
- Direct services between Portsmouth, Southampton and Bournemouth. Besides joining three university centres, this should boost leisure travel, and would be likely to be popular, for example, with retired people living east of Bournemouth.
Illustrative pattern 3 - westbound
|Portsmouth & Southsea||04||25||30||38|
|Southampton Central arr||00||03||08||19||31|
|Southampton Central dep||10||32|
B: To Bournemouth; BN: GTR service from Brighton; C: GWR service to Cardiff; GW: Suggested GWR service continuing to destinations west of Salisbury; V: GTR service from Victoria; W: To Waterloo, connecting at Winchester with CrossCountry trains to Manchester.
Illustrative pattern 3 - eastbound
|Southampton Central arr||03||19|
|Southampton Central dep||47||05||13||20||35|
|Portsmouth & Southsea||38||43||46||11|
B: From Bournemouth; BN: GTR service to Brighton; C: GWR service from Cardiff; GW: Suggested GWR service from destinations west of Salisbury; V: GTR service to Victoria; W: From Waterloo connecting at Winchester out of CrossCountry trains from Manchester.
Note: The token diversions via Southampton Airport of GTR services from Brighton would not be compatible.
* Better service pattern south of Basingstoke
* Trains from Winchfield and Hook connect at Basingstoke only with southbound trains operated by CrossCountry, meaning that many journeys require two changes.
* In the past, passengers between Portsmouth and the Midlands / North had easy 'same platform' connections at Winchester by using the services between Portsmouth and Waterloo via Eastleigh. This connectivity now works only in respect of the few daily trains between Southampton and Newcastle. Portsmouth passengers using the hourly Bournemouth-Manchester services need to travel to Southampton on the 3-coach GWR Cardiff train, which is also their connection for Exeter via Salisbury, and their fastest connection for Bournemouth and Weymouth. The Cardiff trains have a high proportion of reserved seats, and can get seriously overcrowded.
At Southampton, passengers have to extricate themselves and their luggage and cross from one side of the station to the other. There can be as little as 7minutes to catch the Manchester train and, perhaps because of the overcrowding, the GWR train often arrives from Portsmouth a few minutes late. Some of these passengers are likely to have restricted availability Advance tickets. The same pattern operates in the opposite direction, but with a more comfortable connection time at Southampton.
* Eastleigh's services have seriously declined under Stagecoach. Eastleigh borough has a population of 125,000 and is served by 8 railway stations (Eastleigh, Southampton Airport, Chandlers Ford, Netley, Hamble, Bursledon, Hedge End and Botley). The semi-fast Waterloo-Poole services called at Eastleigh in the past but, since the extension of these trains to Weymouth, the stop has been dropped, even though nowhere west of Poole is remotely close to Eastleigh in terms of population. An Eastleigh stop was included in the original specification for the current franchise but was not delivered. Eastleigh station ticks all the boxes for connectivity. It is close to the town's thriving shopping centre and to a bus station which provides good links around the densely populated urban area. Yet passengers wanting a reasonably fast rail service now have to get to Southampton Airport Parkway station on the edge of town. The latter has famously high station car parking charges and just a skeleton bus service operates to/from Eastleigh town centre.
Eastleigh's only direct service to Bournemouth has layovers of 15 minutes at Southampton Central and 25 minutes at Brockenhurst. Winchester, by way of contrast, has three fast / semi-fast services per hour. An extraordinary shortcoming is that on Mondays-Fridays there is no train from Southampton Central to Eastleigh between 07.38 and 08.35. Buses take about 3 times as long as the trains, so are not an ideal alternative.
* Totton's services have declined even more spectacularly. Totton has a population of 30,000 and is the nearest station to Hythe (population 25,000) which is about 6 miles south and has bus links. There are strong aspirations to re-establish passenger train services to Hythe, given the polluted and congested road into Southampton. Only one diesel train would be required to operate an hourly service between Southampton and Hythe. It would be good to see a commitment to promoting such a service.
Until Stagecoach slashed the train service at Totton from 5 departures per hour to 2, passenger growth was soaring. The growth was extinguished as confirmed by official data:
Passenger usage of intermediate rail stations between Southampton Central and Weymouth (ORR data)
In the five years from 2001-02 to 2006-07:
* Total entries and exits at these stations increased on average by 22.1%.
* Entries and exits at Totton (the fourth largest town, by population, on the route) increased by 71.7%.
* Increase at Totton (almost 118,000) was more than at any other station on the line, except Bournemouth, Poole and Brockenhurst.
>From December 2007, SWT revised the timetable, slashing and slowing services from Totton.
In the five years from 2006-07 to 2011-12:
* Entries and exits at all the stations increased on average by 16.0%.
* Entries and exits at Totton decreased by 1.4%.
|Town stations (in order of town population)||Entries/exits 2001-2002||Entries/exits 2006-2007||% increase 2001-02 to 2006-07||Timetable change from 2007||Entries/exits 2011-2012||% increase 2006-07 to 2011-12|
|Suburban stations (in alphabetical order)|
|Village stations (in alphabetical order)|
|Station for ramblers and cyclists|
Dr Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East, has described the current timetable as an 'appalling outcome' for the people of Totton. In recent correspondence with him, Claire Perry has expressed her frustration at the position.
The direct off-peak journey time from London to Totton increased by 32 minutes. The time from Totton to Christchurch increased from 28 minutes to 59 minutes. The 15.35 on Mondays to Fridays now takes a remarkable 71 minutes, with no further service until 17.01. For local travel, Totton- Southampton by train takes barely 5 minutes, whereas the bus journey is scheduled for 17 minutes but can take much longer, particularly at peak times. The abysmal hourly train service provided for most of the day needs to be seen alongside the fact that pollution on the parallel road can at times present such a health risk that warnings are sent out to the most vulnerable people.
Following Transport Minister Tom Harris’ confirmation that he would welcome improvements to the prospective timetable, two members of our Group attended a meeting with DfT officials and a SWT representative on 16.11.2007. DfT had confirmed in advance that timetable improvements could be up for discussion, but the SWT representative was intransigent, illustrating the problems of franchising to operators with little focus on passengers.
* Weymouth semi-fast trains and Poole stopping trains arrive and depart at Southampton Central a few minutes apart. This means, for example that the two trains per hour between Christchurch/New Milton and Southampton provide little more than an hourly service, and results in some very long connectional times at Southampton - for some journeys, in one direction only.
* The two northbound trains from Parkstone and Branksome depart 10 minutes apart in each hour.
* Services between Fareham and London are about 10 minutes slower than in the past.
Suggested service pattern to help address these issues:
- Portsmouth-Waterloo via Eastleigh trains to move to the opposite side of the hour to restore easy connections at Winchester with CrossCountry's Manchester trains. Services to be accelerated by dropping the Micheldever and Woking stops, giving Fareham a faster London service. Woking connections are available at Farnborough. Trains from Waterloo could perhaps leave at 45-past if paths were swapped with the Guildford line stopping service as already suggested.
- The Waterloo-Poole service, with its remarkable 15-minute layover at Southampton Central and 25-minute layover at Brockenhurst, to be replaced by:
(1) a service to Basingstoke, calling at Farnborough and Fleet;
(2) extension of the 42-past Waterloo-Basingstoke stopping service to Southampton (reflecting the 1967 pattern), providing Brookwood (good connection from Alton and Aldershot), Winchfield and Hook with new direct journey opportunities. Any Micheldever and Shawford passengers could connect with faster London trains at Basingstoke. Connections could be available at St Denys for Portsmouth;
(3) the direct Portsmouth-Bournemouth service as already outlined; and
(4) an all-stations service between Brockenhurst and Poole, connecting at Brockenhurst out of the fast London services and CrossCountry's Manchester services.
- Waterloo-Weymouth semi-fast services to call additionally at Eastleigh and Totton; and
- the Romsey-Salisbury service to return to its original Romsey-Totton configuration. There is just a token bus service between Romsey and Totton, despite the two towns being only 6 miles apart.
Illustrative pattern 4 - southbound
|Southampton Central arr||17||26||35||41||45||49||00|
|Southampton Central dep||28||36||43||51||02|
M: Cross Country service from Manchester; N: Cross Country service from Newcastle (alternate hours); P: From Portsmouth; PH: To Portsmouth Harbour. S; Also stops at Surbiton, Walton-on-Thames, Weybridge, Brookwood (connection from Aldershot and Alton), Winchfield and Hook. Connection at St Denys to Portsmouth.
Illustrative pattern 4 - northbound
|Southampton Central arr||58||13||24||28||<||46|
|Southampton Central dep||00||15||>||30||32||38||47||44|
M: Cross Country service to Manchester; N: Cross Country service to Newcastle (alternate hours); P: To Portsmouth; PH: From Portsmouth Harbour; S: Also stops at Hook, Winchfield, Brookwood (connection to Aldershot and Alton), Weybridge, Walton-on Thames and Surbiton. Connection from Portsmouth at St Denys.