Hogrider No 94 : October 2003
South Hampshire Rail Users' Group Newsletter
MINISTERS HINT AT THE FUTURE
("Farewell" Stagecoach, and Tom Winsor running the SRA??)
TIMETABLE CHANGES FROM 28 SEPTEMBER
SWT FAILS PASSENGERS BADLY - SRA ADDS INSULT TO INJURY
"Stagecoach number crunching"
Southampton-Waterloo in 9-hours: short-life note on SWT website
Rail Users’ Reports
New Totton-Romsey service: Big success but needs to be better run
Moderating the language of failure
Points of Interest
Address for correspondence: SHRUG, 19 Fontwell Close, Calmore, Southampton, SO40 2TN
Hogrider is produced in good faith, based on reports and information from many individuals and sources including material identified from press and website research.
MINISTERS HINT AT THE FUTURE
("Farewell" Stagecoach, and Tom Winsor running the SRA??)
In the last issued we compared the current state of the railways with the suggested way ahead outlined in the Group's Memorandum in last year's Select Committee Report, and found some striking similarities.
It would be great to think that all is improving, but that is not the experience of thousands of SWT passengers, and it is not the picture which emerged from the latest research by the Consumers Association. SWT under Stagecoach reportedly remains at the bottom of the performance league, and our Rail Users' Reports have captured some disgusting examples of poor customer service. At times SWT seems so desperate to appear punctual that train doors are closed before passengers can get off. At other times services fall apart due to no train, no crew, or duff rolling stock.
Among the most novel reasons reported in this issue for failing passengers are that someone stopped and jumped off a train in the Vauxhall area in the evening peak, left railway premises before the power in the live rail could be switched off, and yet still caused a 15 minute delay.
The Times of 24 September, recorded furious remarks by Transport Minister Kim Howells when a member of Railfuture suggested that the railways need more money. The unfortunate individual was described as having a trainspotter mentality by the Minister, who said that the Government was putting huge amounts of money into the railways.
This might be insignificant if it weren't for the fact that SRA Chairman Richard Bowker appears to be leading the calls for lots more money. It's true that many commuters are turned into trainspotters every day, but this is because SWT omits stops to "recover" services delayed their ongoing crew and train shortages. Trains run through stations without stopping, so increasing the misery of overcrowding on other services, and the commuters concerned can only stand and watch.
In truth, the railways are probably getting more money than ever before. But where is it going? See the separate article "Stagecoach Number Crunching" which our researches discovered in Private Eye - the SRA is perceived as using money in the interests of Stagecoach rather than in the interests of passengers.
Then there is Stagecoach inefficiency. A member of staff at Southampton Central recently told a commuter that there is no such thing as a connection. So taxpayers pay for connecting local services from Southampton (particularly the Portsmouth and Totton services), the connections depart just as the delayed train from London arrives, and stranded commuters are offered taxis. So, for the sake of the odd minute, costs of local services are duplicated.
Then there is the rolling stock scandal. As the June meeting of the Rail Passengers' Council in Bristol highlighted, hire charges are so high that in some cases taxpayers effectively repurchase the same trains every few years.
Nowhere have services been slashed more severely in the quest for punctuality than on SWT. Passengers were told in advance of the outline changes, like off-peak trains between Waterloo and Southampton being cut back to peak hour levels (sic). They were not told that, to mitigate SWT's performance failures, the three units needed to provide hourly stopping services between Southampton and Wareham would run only between Brockenhurst and Wareham, with 54-minute turnround times at the latter - an extraordinary waste of taxpayers' money.
There are problems for commuters too. The cuts at Shawford were set to cause huge difficulty - with no Waterloo service between 18.30 and 20.50 provided with a connection. Who cares? Apparently not SWT Managing Director Andrew Haines. In his foreword to the new SWT timetable, Haines writes " We realise that the off-peak cuts in this timetable, which focus on lightly used services, do not please those who use them". He doesn't even mention the hardship for Shawford commuters who need to stay in their workplaces after around 6pm - hardly an off-peak disbenefit. A single additional service has now been restored following the intervention of Winchester's MP Mark Oaten.
Meanwhile, the Rail Regulator Tom Winsor, a robustly independent legal mind, has begun to perceive areas of huge waste. In addition, in the Evening Standard of 25 September, Secretary of State Alistair Darling acknowledged that rail passengers need greater reliability in their lives. To the regular customer, reliability means that trains will run on time, connections will be maintained and services levels will not suddenly be axed.
Mr Darling also considered that passengers need better and accurate information when delays do occur. In reality, we suspect that some operators will carry on as usual, and simply attempt to make the language of failure sound more palatable. SWT is already doing this - see separate article on "Moderating the language of failure".
Successive transport ministers have pointed to the interests of passengers being vital. That is surely right, since regular users pay huge fares - about the highest in Europe - and subsidise the train operators through their taxes.
A few operators are perceived as customer-focused and do routinely win plaudits. Could this be a matter of management attitude? GNER is one such company. Chief Executive Christopher Garnett is quoted in Rail No. 466 as saying "--when you take on a franchise, you are taking an asset owned by the Government. You have a responsibility towards that. You have a responsibility towards the way you treat the passengers and how you behave".
Compare this with the statement by Stagecoach Chairman Brian Souter: "Ethics are not irrelevant but some are incompatible with what we have to do because capitalism is based on greed". What a pity the SRA decided that Stagecoach was good enough for SWT passengers when GNER was also bidding for the franchise.
With the Government increasingly subjected to a range of pressures, minds may become concentrated even more on the railways. With Stagecoach performance still so bad, and Richard Bowker doling out huge amounts to them and looking for still more, is it too outrageous to speculate whether Tom Winsor will soon be running the SRA, and Stagecoach banished from the railways? Time will tell.
TIMETABLE CHANGES FROM 28 SEPTEMBER
South West Trains Mind the gap! Huge cuts at some Hampshire stations, but huge waste too
The good news is that Fareham has much faster London services off-peak. The 54 past from Portsmouth Harbour and 15 past from Waterloo (formerly a Southampton train) run fast between Waterloo and Basingstoke. Trains then call at all stations as previously except, oddly, Shawford.
Shawford, where Sunday services were brought up to the hourly weekday level from May, are slashed to hourly / two-hourly on weekdays and three-hourly on Sundays. Shawford is served only by Brighton trains off-peak; there is no real logic in this - these trains don't even serve much larger populations as at Hedge End - and the arrangement appears to be purely for operational convenience. Shawford illustrates the extent to which the SRA has torn up the protection of the Conservative Government's Passenger Service Requirement, which required the station to be served by Southampton or Portsmouth trains. Shawford passengers trying to get a satisfactory service restored have the support of Hampshire County Council and Mark Oaten MP.
Peak services on SWT are little changed. Off-peak, on the Southampton line, Waterloo-Weymouth trains are virtually unchanged and Waterloo-Wareham trains call at Ashurst and do not run between Poole and Wareham. The third hourly London-Southampton train leaves Waterloo at 45 past and Southampton Central at 55 past and calls at Clapham Junction, Woking, Farnborough, Basingstoke, Winchester, Eastleigh, Southampton Airport and Southampton Central. On Mondays to Fridays, however, there is no direct service from Southampton Central to Clapham Junction between 13.55 and 17.54, illustrating the extent that even links between the most major stations are falling apart despite the SRA's throwing more and more taxpayers' money to Stagecoach.
There are extra evening trains on Mondays to Fridays at 20.10 and 21.10 from Waterloo to Southampton, and at 21.15 and 22.30 from Southampton to Waterloo. The 20.55 to Poole is brought forward to 20.50. On Saturday evenings, the 19.45 to Poole terminates at Southampton, and the alternative Poole service leaves at 20.00. Similarly, there are services at 20.45 to Southampton and 21.00 to Poole. As on Mondays to Fridays, there are new services at 21.15 and 22.30 from Southampton Central to Waterloo. However, with SWT's staff and rolling stock shortage, evening services appear especially vulnerable. On the first Monday of the new timetable the 21.30 Waterloo-Poole was axed due to no staff.
Walk-on service levels at some stations become a thing of the past. Off-peak services from Totton to Southampton at 25, 38 and 59 minutes past the hour are savagely slashed to 25 and 38 past: a huge 47 minute gap in each hour. There is no economic justification for this; three train units are ample to run an hourly stopping service between Southampton and Wareham. But three units are now employed to run just a Brockenhurst-Wareham local service, with 54-minute turnround time at Wareham.
Services from Eastleigh to Southampton are slashed from 27, 39, 59 minutes past to 02 and 39 minutes past: a 37minute gap in each hour. The 100,000 or so residents of Eastleigh have no direct off-peak services to anywhere West of Totton.
Beaulieu Road's services are virtually extinguished, except on Sundays. Ashurst has hourly London services throughout the day, EXCEPT that the 19.50 from Waterloo on Mondays-Fridays continues not to call. There has long been pressure from commuters to have this two-hour gap in their services plugged. A clear case of deaf ears at SWT! Ashurst may not keep its generally improved service, given the e'mail sent to a resident by a SWT manager saying that its services would be "nuked" from 2004. Look what has happened to Shawford's Sunday services: two-hourly in Spring 2003, hourly in Summer 2003, three-hourly in Autumn 2003. The warning signals could not be clearer.
Interestingly, the SWT Managing Director's foreword to the SWT timetable is in the present tense: "We realise that the off-peak service cuts in this timetable, which focus on lightly used services, do not please those people who use them. However we have to look at the bigger picture and the upside is a real improvement in performance." How can anyone concerned with factual accuracy, say "the upside IS a real improvement in performance" when the words were published 4 weeks before the cuts were to be implemented?
Obviously, with SWT's very poor performance record (BBC local news on September 19th reported that the SRA's latest performance figures showed SWT again with the worst performance - and that is presumably net of events beyond the railway's control and net of a staggering 15.5 void days in the preceding year), it is safe to predict that running fewer trains will mean running fewer late trains. However, there are strong reasons for doubting that the performance of the trains which do run will significantly improve:
South Central Steady state
The Victoria-Gatwick-Hove-Southampton service continues in the truncated form introduced from May, when through running to Bournemouth ended.
Virgin Trains 49% chance of getting from Southampton to Oxford in the afternoon?
Some good news: the direct Aberdeen service is extended to Sundays, starting from Southampton at 09.10.
At the start of the Summer timetable, the Group criticised the fact that the 15.10 / 16.10 / 17.10 from Southampton call at Oxford - 7 days a week - to pick up only. This means that the services can carry more passengers North of Oxford than South of Oxford, and Oxford passengers travelling from Hampshire and Dorset - including, presumably, any severely disabled people - are thrown off trains which are heading for their required destination. One wonders whether the SRA would allow any company other than Virgin and Stagecoach (see recent articles in Private Eye) to indulge in such use of huge sums of taxpayers' money.
The National Rail Timetable from 28 September shows that the 15.10 still calls at Oxford to pick up only on Mondays to Fridays, and the 16.10 / 17.10 still call to pick up only on Mondays to Saturdays. But wait, Stagecoach's new SWT timetable book now gives Oxford arrival times for all the Monday-Friday trains, indicating of course that you can travel to Oxford on them. Since Stagecoach has a 49% share in Virgin Rail, are we to assume that 49% of passengers wanting to travel to Oxford on these trains will be allowed to do so?
One major issue is that Virgin promised that all trains to and from Bournemouth would be 5-coach units. Many, have had only 4 coaches even during the busiest Summer period.
Wessex Trains More retraction
With the September timetable, the final shape of the 'Wales and the Borders' franchise is reached. Passengers using the Wessex Trains stub of the former Wales and West franchise have been the losers all the way. Direct services from the South Coast to South West Wales were axed last year and the Mondays-Fridays service from Portsmouth to Liverpool via Newport and the Borders line is axed. There is also some peripheral pruning. Most notably, the early morning service from Westbury to Brighton is axed on Mondays to Fridays, the last train from Portsmouth to Bristol and Cardiff is axed on Mondays to Thursdays, and fewer services outside the standard hourly pattern run beyond Bristol to Cardiff.
SWT FAILS PASSENGERS BADLY - SRA ADDS INSULT TO INJURY
When Stagecoach was initially awarded the SWT franchise in 1996, they disposed of so many drivers and middle managers that the service fell apart, with misery for passengers. The many commuters who predicted that history would repeat itself, were Stagecoach to be awarded a further franchise, can now feel vindicated.
We reported in the previous issue how Stagecoach had made clear that they would keep the SWT franchise only on their terms. They have clearly got a fantastic deal, with annual subsidy increased from about £50m to £170m. This was supposed to be due to the costs of hiring new rolling stock. However, reports indicate that the purchase price of the new trains is only £645m and, when they are in service, SWT will dispense with 120 brand-new class 458 coaches, obviously with big cost savings.
Rail News reports that Stagecoach has options for a further 5 years, so it may be that this will prove a long-term franchise with (on the basis of performance over the last 7 years) indefinite misery for commuters. From late July delays and cancellations mushroomed, due to duff rolling stock and shortage of drivers. This, despite the fact that the new franchise is supposed to allow Stagecoach to concentrate on service delivery.
Our 'Rail Users' Reports' chart the rapid deterioration of service following the confirmation of the new franchise. By 2nd August there was chaos across SWT, almost exclusively due to the shortage of train crews and duff rolling stock, responsibility for which falls squarely with Stagecoach.
Why this shortage of train crews? Is it the case that Stagecoach does not employ enough staff to cover the summer holiday season, or were they simply anticipating the significant service cuts from September?
From 4th August SWT's wobbly service was further undermined by speed restrictions imposed by Network Rail, because of a spell of hot weather. This had disastrous consequences for travellers: totally unreliable services with massive delays and cancellations and lamentable lack of information; a risk to health through having to hang around in badly polluted hot air (at least one passenger collapsed on Waterloo station); severe overcrowding on trains which did run; cruel effects of the long-standing duff air conditioning in some coaches of the mid-life Wessex Electric trains.
The speed restrictions were another opportunity for the rail industry to speak with many voices. SRA chief Richard Bowker was reported as blaming past neglect of the infrastructure by Railtrack. Virgin boss Chris Green related the restrictions to the manslaughter charges being faced by members of Network Rail. Ex-BR manager, consultant Peter Rayner, spoke on radio of cheap Polish steel being used on some sections of track, and Network Rail and its contractors not knowing the locations involved.
Two things were clear. Disruption on this scale was not seen during the heatwaves of 1976 and 1990, and continental countries suffering even higher temperatures were doing much better for their passengers.
The extent of SWT's palliative action was to hand out free bottles of water if you happened to be in the right place at the right time. But their failings were almost certainly among the worst ever seen on the British rail network, highlighting a severe lack of focus on customers. Examples of what 'focus on passengers' actually means on SWT:
5 August: The 17.15 Waterloo-Weymouth departed on time and the guard gave the usual announcements reminding passengers that the train would split at Southampton, becoming the 18.30 fast service to Weymouth (first stop Bournemouth) and 18.33 stopping service to Poole. Some passengers who needed the rear portion, but had travelled in the front after a desperate search for a seat, started to walk down the platform at Southampton and noted that the information display showed the 18.33 as cancelled (that is, the train would not split), presumably due to the staff shortage. They immediately asked a member of staff if the 18.30 would stop at Totton; he replied "No, mate", and the train promptly left. Several hundred passengers in the rear unit then started to panic, thinking that they would be taken non-stop to Bournemouth. A quick-thinking off-duty rail employee immediately rang SWT's control centre, and was told that the train would be covering all the stops of the cancelled portion. The guard finally made an announcement as the train passed through Redbridge, and Totton passengers had to make a wild scramble to the front because of the short platform. The passengers left behind at Southampton went to the supervisor's office. They were told that announcements had been made on the train and on the station about the change. On being challenged to have the recorded announcements from the train checked, the deputy supervisor said none were kept. Unfortunately for SWT, one of the passengers was a rail accident investigator and knew that this was untrue. A promise was eventually extracted from the supervisor to have the tape checked. Stranded Totton passengers suffered huge delays because the next two trains to Totton were cancelled.
7 August: A passenger who asked a SWT Manager at Waterloo if a train would form the 17.15 to Weymouth was given an unequivocal "Yes". After sitting in the train for some time, he heard the guard announce that it would be the 16.30. This train left Waterloo at 17.25, horrifically overcrowded, and got to Southampton at 19.12, one and a half hours late. It appears that the 17.15 was not advertised; one passenger who caught this 10-coach service reports that it left ahead of the 16.30, and had about half a dozen passengers. The 17.45 to Weymouth left Waterloo at 18.10 and got to Southampton, over 30 minutes late, at about 19.35. The guard conscientiously reminded passengers that the train would split into Weymouth and Bournemouth portions, and people staggered up and down the hot carriages with their luggage and children. However, stranded passengers who had travelled down on the 16.30 knew that the Bournemouth portion would be replaced by a separate train, which had long been standing at the next platform. The first that passengers from London knew about this was when a station announcement came through an open door. There was then about 10 minutes delay to the 17.45 while station staff sorted out the mess, and passengers who had already struggled through the hot train had to struggle off and cross the footbridge.
7 August: Tragic electrocution of a railman in the Basingstoke area. Passengers on the 07.38 Weymouth-Waterloo were 7 hours 49 minutes late due to Stagecoach's greatest failure to date. Their train was held at Micheldever for 90 minutes; they were then taken back to Eastleigh and thrown off; after getting to Romsey, they crammed into a Wessex Trains' single coach train which was held for 3 hours behind a failed freight train; desperate due to the severe temperatures and lack of air, they were forced to break a window, which caused injury to a passenger. After another change at Salisbury, they reached Waterloo at 18.17.
Examine the facts: It's a scorching hot day. The stranded passengers were initially about 10 miles from Basingstoke, whence they could have caught trains to either Waterloo or Paddington, a journey of about 50 miles. Stagecoach is a major bus operator in the Winchester/Basingstoke area, and run a Romsey-Winchester rail link bus which is little used off-peak. The only passenger-focused option would have been to take the severely delayed passengers by bus from Winchester or Micheldever to Basingstoke, especially as rail services were subject to severe speed restrictions with general cancellations and delays. So what does passenger-focused SWT decide? It takes the nil-cost option and sends them back to Eastleigh for a 100-mile rail detour, in the severe heat, via Fareham and Havant. And when that ruse failed, because of infrastructure problems, they were left to continue their journey as best they could.
SWT then put a remarkable message on their website (reproduced below), meaninglessly indexed "Statement by South West Trains". It starts with the evasive wording "Statement in response to long journey time on 7 August". It then goes on to say "We --- are looking at providing compensation to our passengers". What were they waiting for?
Unfortunately for the SRA and SWT, the story got to the press, with huge front page headlines in the Evening Standard and Southern Daily Echo of 8 August, and reports on radio and television. The Standard's headlines were " TRAINS: THE FINAL INSULT As passengers take NINE hours to go just 70 miles, chief chooses today to claim the railways are doing a good job". Mr Bowker was remarkably claiming that passengers were now starting to see "real benefits" as the railways improved.
But for some South West Trains' annual season ticket holders, this was only the PENULTIMATE INSULT. They arrived home to receive their latest "Gold Service" magazine, which was clearly attempting to sell the new SWT franchise as a good thing!!
The message from SWT Manager, Andrew Haines, stated "We have already started to make real inroads into improving our performance, with SWT achieving a 20% year-on-year reduction in delays attributable to us. Unfortunately your experience may well have seemed at odds with this, as Network Rail has been unable to achieve the same level of success and our performance has been overshadowed by a number of major infrastructure failures."
Hang on… this is the day that Richard Bowker is quoted as saying that passengers are starting to see "real benefits" as the railways improve, and "I think the team at Network Rail are setting about a huge task in exactly the right way… The company says it is working hard not only at better maintaining the railways' battered infrastructure but also at cutting the inflated costs it inherited". (The latter point is presumably defensive given that the Rail Regulator, Tom Winsor, who has been saying exactly the opposite.)
Mr Haines also says "we know that the key to real satisfaction lies in lifting our performance day-in, day-out, and that remains our top priority". Another article takes the form of an interview with Martin Howard, SWT's Customer Services Director. Asked how much further SWT has got with its "vision of giving customers the best service they've ever had" he states "Certainly closer than a year ago". This flies in the face of the evidence of the abominable failure and lack of focus on customers highlighted by events like those of 2nd, 5th and 7th August. There is also a message from Richard Bowker, entitled "Tomorrow's journey". Perhaps, given the Private Eye reports of his attendance at Stagecoach Chairman Brian Souter's church, it is not surprising that he should try to sing about the new franchise from the same hymn sheet as SWT.
One of Mr Bowker's most surprising statements is "Our task at the SRA has been to shape a new environment for train companies so that they can concentrate their efforts on their top priority - passengers. SWT deserves credit for putting great store by staff training and passenger care, but everyone in the rail industry can do more still to persuade passengers that they are valued and prized customers". He presumably means "SWT deserves credit for getting a hugely generous franchise settlement from us, which they had made clear would be on their terms, and then continuing to fail passengers through serious lack of focus as on the 17.15 from Waterloo on 5th August, or the 07.38 from Weymouth, and 16.30, 17.15 and 17.45 from Waterloo on 7th August".
Mr Bowker also tries to justify the forthcoming cuts in SWT services in terms of improving performance. Yet the cuts hardly affect the London area, which we have always been led to believe is the most critical for operations. The reinstatement of a faster service between London and Fareham is welcome, but some stations, like Totton and Eastleigh, will lose their walk-on service levels to Southampton, an area with severe road traffic problems. If Mr Bowker cares to read our reports for week commencing 4th August, he may spot that some Wessex Electric trains have left Waterloo late unnecessarily, because units do not depart in the order of their arrival. So train units stand awaiting their second portions, while other units are at nearby platforms waiting to form later services. Why not sort out this kind of rubbish, before slashing services?
One point which Mr Bowker and Mr Haines oddly fail to mention, given that in their world it would be good news, is that the new SWT franchise may be extended for up to 5 years.
Finally, let's put all this into perspective. When the bidding for a new SWT franchise started, Stagecoach, who had an appalling record of performance and customer service (Remember things like the fury of commuters in the famous Siege of Basingstoke?) were up against GNER who had a vastly better record and whose users actually campaigned for them to keep the GNER franchise itself. Stagecoach won, and this was variously said to be because of their straightforward approach to the bidding process and because their bid offered significant passenger benefits.
It evolved that most of the benefits would be distant aspirations, when Stagecoach director Graham Eccles illustrated the company's straightforwardness by declaring that for the big PR hit you add together the committed outputs and primary and secondary aspirations and then you shout loudly. Most of the passenger benefits have now disappeared over the horizon. And surprise, surprise, Stagecoach's new franchise is supposed to concentrate on good customer service, the very thing that GNER got right and they have consistently failed to achieve.
"Stagecoach number crunching"
(Our research into media reports discovered this article in Private Eye of 19/9/2003)
"Stagecoach founder Brian Souter awarded himself a 72 per cent pay rise in 2002-03, taking home £800,000 for the year when the group made a £466m loss and its turnover fell. What will Souter bank this year, now that Stagecoach has been assured a brighter future by the "strategic" rail authority?
Souter has learned that making money is easier in Britain than overseas and sold bus firms in Hong Kong and America to concentrate on our unique public-private rail partnerships. Last year Stagecoach's only increase in profits came in its UK rail division, and that was when its South West Trains was getting a measly £36m subsidy from the SRA. Now the SRA has agreed to give SWT £170m a year. Commuters will get new trains to replace those that should have been scrapped by 1998. Longer trains for south-west London and improvements to Clapham Junction station, promised in Stagecoach's winning franchise bid, are not included. The extra cash from the SRA will cover the fines SWT pays to the SRA for its poor performance (this is officially known as the SRA's "incentive regime").
SWT is the biggest of the 10 franchises based on London commuting. It accounts for about 22 per cent of the traffic by passenger miles but now gets more than 60 per cent of the subsidy. Thameslink, First Great Eastern and Thames Trains are paying premiums to the SRA so their passengers effectively pay a special Stagecoach tax.
There was good news too for Souter's bank account when the SRA agreed to give Virgin Trains an extra £282m this year, instead of the £13.3m (at 1997 prices) Virgin originally promised to pay the state. Stagecoach owns half of Virgin trains and would have been hit financially had the SRA not offered Virgin a £106m bailout last year.
Last year Virgin's two franchises accounted for 42 per cent of passenger miles on the five big intercity franchises - but took 108 per cent of the total subsidy to those franchises. GNER and Midland Mainline paid premiums of £27m and £15m; their passengers effectively paid a special Virgin tax.
SWT's extra subsidy over three years and Virgin's bailout this year add up to about £680m. The SRA now proposes to cut £600m from maintenance of many regional and freight lines, where journeys will be slower and passengers and goods displaced to roads.
All this should be no surprise to MPs on the transport select committee who were told last November by Richard Bowker, SRA chairman and chief executive, that stabilising Stagecoach was important. That was a month before Bowker, previously co-chairman of Virgin Rail, travelled to Perth to give a talk at Souter's church, purely for reasons of personal faith. Bowker has said it's "shoddy" of the Eye to write of his father's position as a Stagecoach executive, and so we won't go into that.
'Dr B Ching'
Southampton-Waterloo in 9-hours: short-life note on SWT website
Following travel misery that was probably unparallelled even on South West Trains, the following appeared on their website:
"Statement from South West Trains" [Sic! This really was the meaningless wording in the website index!!!]
"Statement in response to long journey time on 7 August.
We would like to offer our sincere apologies to all the passengers involved. Unfortunately they were subject to a series of exceptional circumstances, including a fatality, track problems at Havant, a broken down freight train and extremely hot weather.
Our control did everything they could to get these passengers to Waterloo but we met with problems at every turn. We are truly sorry for the nightmare journey that these passengers experienced.
We met as many passengers as possible off the train at Waterloo and provided full cash refunds and refreshments.
We will be carrying out a full investigation into the incident and are looking at providing compensation to our passengers.
Any passengers who were involved in the incident please contact the Customer Service Centre on 0845 6000 650."
By 11th August the website entry had mysteriously disappeared.
Rail Users’ Reports
Note: These details are snapshots. The Group does not have the resources to provide a full picture of the performance shortcomings which passengers suffer. Trains often become increasingly late during the course of their journeys, and the "minutes late" figures may not represent the position at the end of a journey.
7/7/03 06.06 Brockenhurst-Winchester already 6 minutes late by Totton. 17.28 Waterloo-Portsmouth 15 minutes late at Eastleigh. Connection for Chandlers Ford and Romsey departed just as it was approaching.
8/7/03 Evening peak crisis at Waterloo due to defective stock. 16.08 and 17.57 to Portsmouth, 17.36 to Basingstoke, 17.49 to Shepperton and 17.52 to Reading all reduced to 4 coaches. 17.40 to Farnham reduced to 8 coaches. 16.30 Waterloo-Weymouth arrived at Southampton, 21 minutes late, at 18.00. Last connection of the day (17.55) for all stations to Brockenhurst not held. 18.01 alternative service for all stations to Totton left before passengers could get to it and then stood at signals for the 16.30 to pass.
9/7/03 09.00 Waterloo-Wareham 15 minutes late at Totton. Signalling problems at St Denys in middle of the day. Very limited services from Southampton for several hours, with many delays and cancellations. 10.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 60 minutes late. 11.00 Waterloo-Wareham 40 minutes late. 11.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 30 minutes late, with two flooded toilet compartments. Train service going to London even worse. 16.45 Waterloo-Poole cancelled. 17.15 Waterloo-Weymouth almost 40 minutes late by Totton due to late incoming service at Waterloo and fire outside the terminus. 19.50 Waterloo-Poole 20 minutes late.
10/7/03 14.00 Waterloo-Wareham 20.00 minutes late at Totton. No explanations offered but, on enquiry, a guard stated that there was a 60mph limit due to adverse weather conditions (warm sunshine). 15.47 Portsmouth-Waterloo 30 minutes late. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 30 minutes late. 17.56 Waterloo-Eastleigh-Portsmouth left at 18.02. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole 17 minutes late at Totton. 18.00 Brighton-Basingstoke cancelled due to driver shortage.
11/7/03 Seat collapsed under passenger on the 05.42 Poole-Waterloo. 07.11 Haslemere-Waterloo 18 minutes late. 06.42 Hilsea-Waterloo 8 minutes late. Evening track fault at Waterloo. Hampton Court trains started from Surbiton, Alton trains from Woking, and Salisbury/Exeter trains from Basingstoke. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 25 minutes late. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole called additionally at Surbiton and was 8 minutes late at Totton.
13/7/03 Many cancellations across SWT due to guard and driver shortage. 12.19 Romsey-Totton and 13.25 Totton-Romsey advertised to run as non-stop local services between Southampton Central and Romsey. 12.40 Paignton-Waterloo started from Exeter due to staff shortage. Some Waterloo-Reading trains reduced to 4 coaches. Delays in Basingstoke area due to failed freight train.
14/7/03 15.00 Waterloo-Wareham cancelled due to duff rolling stock. 17.45 Waterloo-Weymouth suffered door problems, which the driver had to tackle. 16.01 Portsmouth-Waterloo nearly 20 minutes late; 15.04 Poole-Waterloo and 16.17 Portsmouth-Waterloo about 12 minutes late. 16.32 and 19.12 Waterloo-Basingstoke, and 18.17 Waterloo-Shepperton all reduced to 4 coaches due to defective stock. 17.51 Waterloo-Portsmouth left at 18.00. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole left at 18.10; second coach almost empty due to duff air conditioning; train reached Eastleigh 17 minutes late due to the preceding 17.56 from Waterloo being 18 minutes late. 18.30 Waterloo-Weymouth nearly 25 minutes late at Southampton.
15/7/03 05.34 Bournemouth-Waterloo and 06.06 Brockenhurst-Winchester about 7 minutes late. 06.19 from Poole expected at Waterloo 30 minutes late. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo about 40 minutes late; 16.01 Portsmouth-Waterloo, 15.04 Poole-Waterloo, and 16.47 Basingstoke-Waterloo all about 20 minutes late. Terrible conditions on 17.56 Waterloo-Eastleigh-Portsmouth due to severe overcrowding and temperature of 90oF. Overcrowding was due to a Waterloo-Alton service starting from Woking. The Portsmouth train was held for nearly 30 minutes outside Wimbledon for passengers to be thrown off a preceding duff train. It then stopped at Wimbledon for the benefit of the ejected passengers, but there was no room for them to board. Trains kept running from the adjacent suburban platform - first the Chessington service, whose passengers were to be thrown off in order for it to run fast from Raynes Park to Chessington South for operational convenience; then the Epsom service, whose passengers were to be thrown off for a bus connection from Motspur Park. The Portsmouth train eventually staggered into Winchester 43 minutes late, after further delays in Woking station. At Winchester, the 19.06 to Waterloo left at 19.49, followed by the 19.32 at 19.54. The 18.05 Waterloo-Poole arrived 54 minutes late. 18.50 Waterloo-Poole over 20 minutes late.
17/7/03 Turn of the 17.22 and 18.38 Waterloo-Reading to be reduced to 4 coaches. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole, formed of units 2412 and 2414, suffered total door failure at Winchester; awful conditions in 6th coach due to duff air conditioning. Five members of SWT staff held a conference alongside the duff train. Passengers told to alight via the van doors in the 3rd and 8th coaches. Train delayed 20 minutes. Same process at Eastleigh and Southampton Airport. Passengers eventually thrown off at Southampton Central and the train proceeded empty towards Poole. 18.41 Poole-Waterloo 8 minutes late at Southampton Central. 18.30 Waterloo-Weymouth about 30 minutes late.
18/7/03 Staff at Southampton Central who wondered why the 17.55 to Brockenhurst didn't bother leaving, despite a green signal, discovered that it had no driver. Train was expected to depart about 20 minutes late. The following service to Totton ended its journey about 8 minutes late. 16.34 Wareham-Waterloo arrived at Southampton Central some 20 minutes late, at 18.05. Passengers for Southampton Airport, Winchester and Basingstoke thrown off so that the stops could be omitted for operational convenience.
19/7/03 15.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 20 minutes late at Southampton. Massive afternoon delays and cancellations due to duff train at New Malden; many London trains ran only to and from Woking.
21/7/03 Many short-formation trains due to maintenance and defective stock, meaning even greater misery for SWT commuters. 16.45 Waterloo-Strawberry Hill, 17.34 Waterloo-Portsmouth Harbour, 17.47 Waterloo-Shepperton and 18.12 Waterloo-Windsor all advertised as 4 coaches only. 18.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 5 coaches only. 18.42 Waterloo-Basingstoke 8 coaches only. Misery for Southampton line passengers going home late; lines through Micheldever closed from 22.00.
22/7/03 Duff air conditioning in second coach of 18.05 Waterloo-Poole. Misery for Southampton line passengers going home late; lines through Micheldever closed from 22.00.
23/7/03 08.46 Weymouth-Waterloo reduced to 5 coaches. 12.30 Waterloo-Weymouth passed Totton 10 minutes late. 12.45 Waterloo-Poole stopping service left Southampton Central 10 minutes late, just as the faster connecting service (13.00 from Waterloo) pulled in 20 minutes late. The 12.45 then stood at signals at Millbrook for the 13.00 to pass. The trains were respectively about 15 and 22 minutes late at Totton. 16.05 Reading-Brighton started 16 minutes late. 16.34 Wareham-Waterloo 10 minutes late by Southampton. 20.35 Waterloo-Exeter and 20.40 Waterloo-Basingstoke 20 minutes late. 20.42 Waterloo-Windsor and 21.43 Windsor-Waterloo cancelled due to no driver. Misery for Southampton line passengers going home late; lines through Micheldever closed from 22.00.
24/7/03 15.04 Poole-Waterloo about 12 minutes late. 17.52 Waterloo-Chessington cancelled. 19.20 Waterloo-Portsmouth Harbour 15 minutes late. 20.21 Guildford-Waterloo cancelled.
25/7/03 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo over 30 minutes late. The ancient stock on the 17.56 Waterloo-Portsmouth via Eastleigh suffered emergency braking in the Battersea area, with standing passengers thrown across the carriages. Guard eventually announced that this was due to the safety system being activated due to another train running with a door wide open. 17.56 was over 15 minutes late by Winchester. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole over 30 minutes late. The 18.30 Waterloo-Weymouth was similarly delayed, and missed connections for Totton, Romsey, the Netley line, Lymington and stations between Brockenhurst and Bournemouth.
26/7/03 11.14 Romsey-Totton and 12.25 Totton-Romsey cancelled due to no driver: huge 2-hour gap in service. A number of Waterloo suburban services cancelled due to no driver. 17.03 Waterloo-Salisbury cancelled due to no conductor. 21.56 Waterloo-Reading, 22.10 Waterloo-Basingstoke and 23.20 Waterloo-Portsmouth Harbour cancelled due to no driver.
27/7/03 01.05 Waterloo-Southampton terminated at Wimbledon with bus connection. A commuter who got to Eastleigh station at 10.15 (some people do work on Sundays) was told there would be no London train before 12 noon. 12.59 Reading to Brighton started from Basingstoke. 12.15 Waterloo-Portsmouth Harbour cancelled due to no driver. 13.10 Brighton-Reading cancelled due to no driver. 12.50 Waterloo-Bournemouth 18 minutes late due to duff rolling stock. 16.55 Bournemouth-Waterloo cancelled.
28/7/03 01.05 Waterloo-Southampton terminated at Surbiton with a bus connection. 07.11 Haslemere-Waterloo cancelled. 16.27 Alton-Waterloo 20 minutes late; other mainline arrivals at Waterloo between 17.30 and 18.00 about 5-10 minutes late. 17.48 Waterloo-Alton reduced to 8 coaches. 19.43 Poole-Waterloo cancelled due to no driver.
29/7/03 08.10 Waterloo-Basingstoke cancelled. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 30 minutes late. 15.04 Poole-Waterloo over 10 minutes late. 16.23 Waterloo-Portsmouth Harbour reduced to 4 coaches. 17.51 Waterloo-Portsmouth Harbour left at 18.07 following frantic attention by fitters. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole left 6 minutes late; unable to use its 8-minute slack to make up time because the 17.56 Waterloo-Portsmouth via Eastleigh was running 7 minutes late. 20.20 Portsmouth Harbour-Waterloo 23 minutes late due to crew shortage. 19.50 Plymouth-Waterloo started from Exeter due to delays to an earlier service. 20.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 18 minutes late due to duff rolling stock.
30/7/03 06.06 Brockenhurst-Winchester cancelled. 07.10 Waterloo-Paignton 24 minutes late due to delayed preceding train. 08.28 Portsmouth Harbour-Waterloo 18 minutes late 'due to preceding train being cancelled'. 08.53 Waterloo-Portsmouth Harbour started from Guildford due to duff rolling stock. 09.40 Waterloo-Portsmouth Harbour stopping service 33 minutes late - all stations between Waterloo and Basingstoke omitted. Morning cancellations on the new Totton-Romsey service due to duff rolling stock. 10.30 Waterloo-Weymouth cancelled due to duff rolling stock. 11.57 Reading-Waterloo cancelled due to duff rolling stock. 15.20 Southampton-Eastleigh departed at 15.35 - fat lot of use as the 15.35 was right behind. 14.33 Southampton-Portsmouth over 30 minutes late; return working at 15.47 severely delayed. 14.54 Portsmouth-Waterloo via Eastleigh 25 minutes late; passengers for intermediate stations between Basingstoke and Waterloo thrown off so that the stops could be omitted for operational convenience. 18.37 Waterloo-Alton and 20.07 Alton-Waterloo both reduced to 8 coaches. 17.47 Portsmouth-Waterloo and 19.38 Waterloo-Portsmouth reduced to 4 coaches. 18.47 Waterloo-Staines reduced to 4 coaches.
31/07/03 13.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 20 minutes late.
1/8/03 05.42 Poole-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 15.04 Poole-Waterloo about 10 minutes late; 15.34 Wareham-Waterloo about 15 minutes late. 14.48 from Weymouth arrived at Waterloo over 20 minutes late at 17.55 and departed as the 18.05 to Poole with litter still strewn everywhere. 18.50 Waterloo-Poole 26 minutes late at Woking due to late running of previous train.
2/8/03 11.00 Waterloo-Wareham 24 minutes late at Brockenhurst due to delay to preceding train; terminated at Poole and passengers for Hamworthy, Holton Heath and Wareham thrown off. The following 11.30 Waterloo-Weymouth was 17 minutes late at Wareham. 11.34 Wareham-Waterloo terminated at Southampton due to duff rolling stock. 11.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 20 minutes late due to duff rolling stock. 13.34 Wareham-Waterloo cancelled between Wareham and Poole; passengers left stranded at Wareham, Holton Heath and Hamworthy. 14.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 20 minutes late. 14.45 Waterloo-Poole 25 minutes late due to crew shortage. 17.34 Wareham-Waterloo terminated at Southampton due to duff rolling stock............12.23 Waterloo-Haslemere, 13.40 Haslemere-Waterloo, 14.53 Waterloo-Portsmouth and 17.25 Portsmouth-Waterloo cancelled due to no driver. 12.25 Portsmouth-Waterloo 15 minutes late due to delay on a previous journey. 14.23 Waterloo-Haslemere 17 minutes late due to delay on previous journey. 15.08 Waterloo-Portsmouth 16 minutes late due to duff rolling stock. 18.20 Portsmouth-Waterloo 32 minutes late starting due to late running previous journey............10.35 Waterloo-Paignton 17 minutes late at Exeter due to late preceding train. Big afternoon delays at Salisbury due to person under train............13.52 Waterloo-Reading over 15 minutes late due to crewing problems. 16.07 Waterloo-Reading and 17.42 Reading-Waterloo cancelled due to no driver. 18.20 Windsor-Waterloo terminated at Staines due to earlier train failure............14.25 Totton-Romsey cancelled............14.17, 16.17 and 17.17 Brentford loop trains cancelled due to no driver. 14.48 Kingston loop service cancelled due to no driver. 19.47 Waterloo-Weybridge and 21.30 Weybridge-Waterloo ran only between Waterloo and Virginia Water due to no guard............13.57 Guildford-West Croydon and return service at 14.54 both cancelled due to earlier train failure. 14.20 Guildford-Waterloo cancelled due to no driver. 15.00 / 16.30 Waterloo-Epsom and 15.48 / 17.18 Epsom-Waterloo all cancelled due to no driver.
3/8/03 16.03 Reading-Brighton started from Basingstoke and ran about 50 minutes late due to duff rolling stock. 16.40 Weymouth-Waterloo about 20 minutes late due to delay to previous train; 17.40 about 10 minutes late by Southampton.
4/8/03 With services already at the point of collapse because of traincrew shortages and duff rolling stock (see reports for 2 August) Network Rail imposed an afternoon and early evening speed restriction of 60mph due to hot weather. Delays, cancellations, trains turned short of destination, and stops deliberately missed for operational convenience. At least one Portsmouth-Waterloo stopping service ran non-stop from Eastleigh. By the evening peak most trains were 15-30 minutes late into Waterloo. Front unit of 16.30 to Weymouth arrived at departure time and the train left at 16.40. Dreadful conditions on board because of poor atmosphere in some coaches and totally duff air conditioning in the third coach. Train arrived at Southampton about 30 minutes late at 18.15. Neither the 17.55 to Brockenhurst nor the 18.01 to Totton had been held to connect. 16.45 Waterloo-Poole 18 minutes late at Southampton. 16.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 24 minutes late at Southampton; pre-announced as overcrowded with standing passengers. The stock for the half-length 17.45 Waterloo-Weymouth was expected at about 18.23. Some passengers took the 17.56 Portsmouth train as far as Eastleigh, arriving at 19.45 to find that the 19.34 train for stations to Southampton and Totton had not been held.
5/8/03 Replay of previous day. At 16.25 one Wessex Electric unit was waiting to form the rear of the 16.30 to Weymouth and another to form the 16.45 to Weymouth. These units could have been used to form the 16.30, allowing punctual departure. As it was, the front unit of the 16.30 arrived at departure time and the service departed at 16.37. Speed limit lifted at 17.30; the train got to Southampton 5 minutes earlier than the previous day at 18.10, but connections for stations to Brockenhurst and Totton still not held. 16.45 Waterloo-Poole 10 minutes late. The 17.15 departed on time and the guard gave the usual announcements reminding passengers that the train would split at Southampton, becoming the 18.30 fast service to Weymouth and 18.33 stopping service to Poole. Some passengers who needed the rear portion, but had travelled in the front after a desperate search for a seat, started to walk down the platform at Southampton and noted that the information display showed the 18.33 as cancelled (ie, train not splitting), presumably due to the staff shortage. They immediately asked a member of staff if the 18.30 would stop at Totton; he replied "No, mate", and the train promptly left. Several hundred passengers in the rear unit then started to panic, thinking that they would be taken non-stop to Bournemouth. A quick-thinking off-duty rail employee immediately rang SWT's control centre, and was told that the train would be covering all the stops of the cancelled portion. The guard finally made an announcement as the train passed through Redbridge, and Totton passengers had to make a wild scramble to the front because of the short platform. The passengers left behind at Southampton went to the supervisor's office. They were told that announcements had been made on the train and on the station about the change. On being challenged to have the recorded announcements from the train checked, the deputy supervisor said none were kept. Unfortunately for SWT, one of the passengers was a rail accident investigator and knew that this was untrue. A promise was eventually extracted from the supervisor to have the tape checked. Stranded Totton passengers suffered huge delays because the next two trains to Totton were cancelled; the 18.14 Romsey-Totton was to terminate at Redbridge due to a points problem (we understand that this had been happening for most of the day). 18.50 Waterloo-Poole about 30 minutes late; 20.55 21 minutes late.
6/8/03 Replay of previous days but with emergency engineering work at Waterloo to make delays and cancellations even worse. 16.00 Waterloo-Poole left, severely overcrowded, in the terrible heat at 16.36 - stock arrived after the stock for the rear portion of the 16.30. Another unit arrived at 16.47 and left at 16.53, as the 16.45 to Poole. Front of the 16.30 to Weymouth arrived at 16.53 and the train left at 17.02. Nobody had bothered to open the dorrs between the two units; this was not done until the Woking area, when the guard broadcast a message for a member of staff to attend. 16.30 was about one hour late at Southampton, and the 16.45 - which it overtook - about 30 minutes late. 20.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 30 minutes late at Southampton; 21.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 25 minutes late. 18.50 Waterloo-Poole 51 minutes late; 19.50 49 minutes late; 20.50 34 minutes late; 21.50 14 minutes late.
7/8/03 Day that duff rolling stock, staff shortage, over-run of emergency engineering works, combined with the tragic electrocution of a railman in the Basingstoke area to bring total collapse of service. Buses ran between Winchester and Basingstoke for some time, and one train was advertised on the web as due at Totton two and a half hours late. Passengers on the 07.38 Weymouth-Waterloo were 7 hours 49 minutes late due to Stagecoach's greatest failure to date. Their train was held at Micheldever for 90 minutes; they were then taken back to Eastleigh and thrown off; after getting to Romsey, they crammed into a Wessex Trains' single coach train which was held for 3 hours behind a failed freight train; desperate due to the severe temperatures and lack of air, they were forced to break a window, which caused injury to a passenger. After another change at Salisbury, they reached Waterloo at 18.17. 16.00 Waterloo-Poole left at 16.59. 16.58 Portsmouth-Waterloo started from Winchester. A passenger who asked a SWT Manager at Waterloo if a train would form the 17.15 to Weymouth was given an unequivocal "Yes". After sitting in the train for some time, the guard announced that it would be the 16.30. This train left Waterloo at 17.25, horrifically overcrowded, and got to Southampton at 19.12, one and a half hours late. It appears that the 17.15 was not advertised; one passenger who caught this 10-coach service reports that it left ahead of the 16.30, and had about half a dozen passengers. The 17.45 to Weymouth left Waterloo at 18.10 and got to Southampton, over 30 minutes late, at about 19.35. The guard conscientiously reminded passengers that the train would split into Weymouth and Bournemouth portions, and people staggered up and down the hot carriages with their luggage and children. Passengers who had travelled down on the 16.30 knew that the Bournemouth portiion would be a separate train, which had long been standing at the next platform. The first that passengers from London knew about this was when a station announcement came through an open door. There was then about 10 minutes delay to the train while station staff sorted out the mess, and passengers who had already struggled through the hot train had to struggle off and cross the footbridge.
8/8/03 05.42 Poole-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 08.30 Waterloo-Weymouth about 15 minutes late. 11.14 Romsey-Totton 8 minutes late; the return service from Totton was shown on the station's information system as not calling at the station, with passengers warned to stand clear. 11.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 27 minutes late; 13.30 63 minutes late; 14.30 53 minutes late; 15.30 54 minutes late; 16.30 68 minutes late; 17.15 got to Southampton 23 minutes late but the rear portion left 37 minutes late due to SWT's ongoing train crew shortage; 17.45 15 minutes late; 18.30 22 minutes late; 19.30 20 minutes late; 20.30 11 minutes late. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole 18 minutes late; 18.50 42 minutes late; 19.50 30 minutes late; 20.55 62 minutes late. 14.35 Waterloo-Plymouth 43 minutes late; 18.35 Waterloo-Exeter 34 minutes late. 12.40 Paignton-Waterloo 25 minutes late; 14.06 Poole-Waterloo 23 minutes late; 14.34 Wareham-Waterloo 27 minutes late; 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 20 minutes late; 14.54 Portsmouth-Eastleigh-Waterloo 15 minutes late; 15.55 Southampton-Waterloo 20 minutes late; 16.50 Plymouth-Waterloo 35 minutes late; 20.07 Weymouth-Waterloo 22 minutes late; 20.30 Exeter-Basingstoke 34 minutes late.
9/8/03 Guildford-West Croydon service withdrawn all day due to no train crews. 08.42 Reading-Waterloo started from Ascot; 08.57 and 12.57 started from Bracknell. 11.22 Waterloo-Reading 20 minutes late and passengers thrown off at Wokingham; 13.37 failed completely and passengers thrown off at Queenstown Road Battersea. 09.59 Windsor-Waterloo 29 minutes late. O8.00 Waterloo-Wareham 10 minutes late; 13.15 to Southampton 15 minutes late; 13.30 to Weymouth 10 minutes late; 14.00 to Wareham 18 minutes late due to delay to previous train; 14.30 to Weymouth 56 minutes late; 14.45 to Poole 29 minutes late; 15.00 to Wareham 76 minutes late; 15.30 to Weymouth 57 minutes late; 15.45 to Poole 50 minutes late into Southampton; 16.00 to Wareham 61 minutes late; 16.15 to Southampton 15 minutes late; 16.30 to Weymouth 59 minutes late; 16.45 to Poole 16 minutes late; 16.53 to Portsmouth 60 minutes late; 17.00 to Poole 37 minutes late; 17.30 to Weymouth 63 minutes late; 18.15 to Southampton 13 minutes late; 18.30 to Weymouth 15 minutes late; 19.53 to Portsmouth cancelled; 20.55 to Poole cancelled 'due to cancellation of preceding service'. 15.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 26 minutes late. 18.06 Poole-Southampton 14 minutes late. 19.47 Southampton-Portsmouth 15 minutes late.
10/8/03 08.40 Weymouth-Waterloo 47 minutes late due to no crew; 10.40 20 minutes late; 13.40 one hour late; 14.40 42 minutes late; 15.40 19 minutes late; 16.40 42 minutes late; 17.40 45 minutes late; 18.40 21 minutes late. 09.55 Totton-Romsey cancelled between Totton and Southampton due to duff rolling stock. 12.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 11 minutes late; 13.30 46 minutes late; 14.30 27 minutes late; 15.30 27 minutes late; 17.30 38 minutes late and 5 coaches only; 18.30 33 minutes late; 19.30 31 minutes late. 13.50 Waterloo-Bournemouth 15 minutes late; 15.50 15 minutes late; 16.50 13 minutes late; 17.50 40 minutes late; 19.50 19 minutes late. 14.55 Bournemouth-Waterloo 53 minutes late; 15.55 12 minutes late; 16.55 14 minutes late; 19.55 10 minutes late. 16.47 Southampton-Portsmouth cancelled. 12.15 Waterloo-Portsmouth 10 minutes late; 12.45 17 minutes late; 15.15 26 minutes late; 17.15 15 minutes late; 17.45 35 minutes late. 15.20 Portsmouth-Waterloo 35 minutes late; 16.20 38 minutes late; 18.20 29 minutes late; 19.20 16 minutes late. 13.02 Windsor-Waterloo 53 minutes late; 13.32 Waterloo-Reading and 13.47 Waterloo-Windsor delayed in Feltham area due to duff stock. 14.10 Clapham Junction-Reading and 15.30 Reading-Waterloo cancelled due to no guard. 16.00 Reading-Waterloo 23 minutes late; 19.00 advertised as 25 minutes late and missing out 12 scheduled stops for operational convenience - perhaps the driver demonstrated SWT's customer focus with a glance their way as he swept past and left them to await the 19.30, which was advertised as cancelled due to no guard. 14.14 Penzance-Waterloo 35 minutes late. Many evening trains between Waterloo and Epsom cancelled due to no guard. 19.20 Alton-Waterloo cancelled due to no guard. 18.03 Chessington-Waterloo cancelled due to no guard. 19.40 Aldershot-Waterloo cancelled. 20.31 Romsey-Totton 10 minutes late. 22.29 Guildford-Ascot and 23.29 Ascot-Farnham replaced by buses due to no guard.
11/8/03 Big afternoon delays due to the now familiar combination of circumstances. However, the speed restrictions were lifted earlier, with the 17.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth just 2 minutes late at Eastleigh. No such luck on the Southampton line. The 17.15 Waterloo-Weymouth departed at 17.40 and reached Southampton 35 minutes late at 19.00. The "connection" for all stations to Totton immediately departed and sat at signals at Millbrook for 6 minutes for both portions of the 17.15 to pass. 18.40 Waterloo-Portsmouth 19 minutes late. 18.50 Waterloo-Poole 38 minutes late. 19.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 10 minutes late.
12/8/03 14.34 Wareham-Waterloo 22 minutes late due to signalling problems in the Poole area. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 14 minutes late. 15.51 Guildford-Waterloo cancelled due to no guard. 15.22 Waterloo-Reading and 16.56 Reading-Waterloo cancelled due to duff rolling stock. 16.01 Portsmouth-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 16.42 Reading-Waterloo 22 minutes late. 16.52 Waterloo-Reading 18 minutes late due to duff stock. 16.56 Windsor-Waterloo 22 minutes late; most stops omitted for operational convenience. 18.09 Waterloo-Woking cancelled. Waiting passengers boarded the 18.05 Waterloo-Poole; others then locked out in the heat while engineers attended the train. Duff stock on the 20.30 from Waterloo - the final service of the day to Weymouth; passengers thrown off at Eastleigh.
13/8/03 07.45 Waterloo-Poole 18 minutes late due to crew shortage. 07.55 Waterloo-Wareham 15 minutes late due to delay to preceding service; 14.00 15 minutes late. 17.09 Guildford-Waterloo via Leatherhead 30 minutes late and missed all intermediate stops. 18.19 Dorking-Waterloo cancelled due to no crew. 19.47 Portsmouth-Waterloo 11 minutes late.
14/8/03 05.42 Poole-Waterloo delayed 5 minutes at Totton due to duff door. 16.50 Plymouth-Waterloo 24 minutes late. 17.45 Waterloo-Weymouth 30minutes late. 18.39 Reading-Brighton started from Basingstoke due to delay on previous journey. 18.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 31 minutes late. 19.54 Reading-Waterloo 31 minutes late; passengers for stations between Staines and Waterloo thrown off in order to omit stops for operational convenience.
15/8/03 14.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 16 minutes late. 14.34 Wareham-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 23 minutes late. 14.57 Reading-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 15.00 Waterloo-Wareham 17 minutes late. 15.04 Poole-Waterloo 17 minutes late. 16.18 Waterloo-Reading and 17.19 Dorking-Waterloo cancelled due to duff rolling stock. 17.30 Waterloo-Exeter 16 minutes late. 17.45 Waterloo-Weymouth 15 minutes late. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole arrived at Southampton 21 minutes late "due to a slight incident on the track" in the Wimbledon area; at Southampton, passengers had 20 seconds to switch to the hourly Netley line service which naturally didn't wait for them. 18.10 Waterloo-Yeovil 15 minutes late. 18.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 22 minutes late due to duff rolling stock. 19.05 Waterloo-Salisbury 15 minutes late. 19.10 Waterloo-Southampton 19 minutes late. 19.20 Portsmouth-Waterloo 37 minutes late. 19.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 15 minuts late. 20.39 Waterloo-Guildford cancelled due to no guard. 20.43 Windsor-Waterloo cancelled due to duff rolling stock.
16/8/03 10.35 Waterloo-Paignton 18 minutes late. 11.59 Paignton-Brighton 16 minutes late. 13.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 15 minutes late. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 22 minutes late. 17.45 and 18.00 Waterloo-Poole over 15 minutes late. 20.09 Hampton Court-Waterloo cancelled due to duff rolling stock.
17/8/03 Morning disruption to services between Waterloo and Portsmouth due to a fatality at Liss. 22.40 Waterloo-Basingstoke about 20 minutes late; 22.55 Waterloo-Poole 15 minutes late.
18/8/03 Failed engineers' train: 06.38 and 07.12 Portsmouth-Eastleigh-Waterloo cancelled, and 3 trains noted as delayed at St Denys at 06.50.
19/8/03 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo about 15 minutes late. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole 8 minutes late and poor conditions in some coaches due to duff air conditioning.
20/8/03 16.25 Portsmouth-Waterloo, 16.52 Waterloo-Reading and 18.32 Waterloo-Portsmouth all cancelled due to no driver. 18.48 Weymouth-Waterloo only reached Bournemouth before passengers thrown off due to no driver. 19.00 Brighton-Reading about 25 minutes late. 19.47 Portsmouth-Waterloo about 30 minutes late. 20.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth about 20 minutes late. 20.07 Weymouth-Waterloo nearly 15 minutes late at Southampton. 20.30 Weybridge-Waterloo cancelled due to duff rolling stock. 21.40 Brighton-Salisbury 18 minutes late. 22.30 Waterloo-Bournemouth about 30 minutes late.
21/8/03 07.37 Portsmouth-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 07.25 Reading-Waterloo cancelled between Reading and Bracknell. 14.35 Waterloo-Plymouth 23 minutes late. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 22 minutes late; 15.48 was 38 minutes late due to duff rolling stock. 15.04 Poole-Waterloo, 16.01 Portsmouth-Waterloo and 16.15 Salisbury-Waterloo all about 10 minutes late. 17.51 Waterloo-Portsmouth departed at 18.00. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole about 6 minutes late at Southampton. 18.50 Waterloo-Poole 26 minutes late at Southampton; 19.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 20 minutes late.
22/8/03 07.38 Weymouth-Waterloo 27 minutes late due to animals on the line. 08.01 Teddington-Waterloo cancelled due to lateness of previous service. 08.03 Shepperton-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo, 15.47 Portsmouth-Waterloo and 16.27 Alton-Waterloo all about 10 minutes late. Dreadful conditions in some carriages of the 18.05 Waterloo-Poole due to duff air conditioning.
23/8/03 Delays to morning services between Waterloo/Basingstoke and Portsmouth/Brighton. 19.20 Portsmouth-Waterloo, 19.45 Waterloo-Guildford, 20.38 Chessington-Waterloo and 21.21 Guildford-Waterloo all cancelled due to shortage of drivers.
24/8/03 07.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth 17 minutes late. 07.40 Southampton-Brighton 32 minutes late due to duff rolling stock. 08.47 Southampton-Portsmouth cancelled between Southampton and Fareham due to duff rolling stock.
25/8/03 18.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 19.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 22 minutes late due to delay on previous journey
26/8/03 08.07 Dorking-Waterloo 4 coaches only due to duff rolling stock. 08.46 Twickenham-Waterloo cancelled due to delay on previous journey. Due to rolling stock shortage, the following trains reduced to 4 coaches: 07.50 Aldershot-Waterloo; 07.50 Waterloo-Effingham Junction; 08.56 Basingstoke-Waterloo; 08.56 Portsmouth-Waterloo; 09.37, 17.22 and 18.37 Waterloo-Reading; 10.15 and 19.10 Waterloo-Southampton; 17.22 Waterloo-Chessington; 17.33 Waterloo-Shepperton; 18.48 Waterloo-Dorking. 10.52 Waterloo-Reading 24 minutes late and passengers thrown off at Wokingham. 12.27 Reading-Waterloo cancelled between Reading and Bracknell. Passengers on the 09.34 Wareham-Waterloo thrown off at Winchester due to duff rolling stock. 08.46 Weymouth-Waterloo 17 minutes late; 09.53 Waterloo-Portsmouth 16 minutes late; 10.00 Brighton-Reading 23 minutes late due to delay on previous journey; 10.23 Waterloo-Haslemere 17 minutes late. 20.09 and 22.14 Romsey-Totton, and 21.25 and 23.25 Totton-Romsey all cancelled due to no guard.
27/8/03 19.30 Waterloo-Weymouth made very poor running; no explanation or apology whatever. It arrived at Southampton Central 18 minutes late at 20.57. Passengers for the 20.55 for all stations to Totton found that it had been too much trouble to hold their connection for a couple of minutes. The 19.30 had to follow the Totton train, meaning that it took about 12 minutes for the first 2½ miles from Southampton. At 22.20 the National Rail website showed it as expected at Weymouth 24 minutes late. The SWT website showed that there were no SWT trains running more than 15 minutes late! 21.30 Waterloo-Poole 12 minutes late at Southampton.
28/8/03 06.20 Honiton-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 07.42 Gillingham (Dorset) - Waterloo reduced to 2 coaches. 16.05 Reading-Brighton 15 minutes late due to crew shortage. 16.45 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo, and 17.39 Hampton Court-Waterloo cancelled due to duff stock. 17.03 Waterloo-Yeovil started from Basingstoke due to duff stock. 17.17 Waterloo-Shepperton reduced to 4 coaches and 18.00 Waterloo-Basingstoke reduced to 8 coaches. THEN THINGS TOOK AN UNEXPECTED TURN. THE GREAT SOUTH LONDON POWER FAILURE (DUE TO THE WRONG KIND OF FUSE) BROUGHT DISASTER FOR THOUSANDS OF COMMUTERS. WHEN POWER WAS RESTORED, THOSE SWT SERVICES WHICH DID RUN WERE TYPICALLY 30-90 MINUTES LATE. DELAYED AND CANCELLED TRAINS FAR TOO NUMEROUS TO LIST. At 21.00 the current running page on SWT's website had collapsed. From the superior National Rail website, it was clear that later evening trains from Waterloo to Portsmouth were typically running about an hour late whereas, for example, the 19.35 Waterloo-Honiton was 85 minutes late and the 19.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 79 minutes late. As a nice touch, the 23.25 Totton-Romsey was advertised as terminating at Eastleigh, but without explanation.
29/8/03 Duff stock on the 05.42 Poole-Waterloo; one unit detached at Bournemouth and the remaining 5 coaches ran about 25 minutes late and horribly overcrowded; train ran non-stop from Southampton Central to Waterloo, so passengers for Southampton Airport, Eastleigh and Winchester thrown off. 08.01 Portsmouth-Waterloo, 17.26 and 18.55 Waterloo-Guildford, 17.37 Waterloo-Aldershot and 17.49 Waterloo-Dorking all reduced to 4 coaches. 14.00 Brighton-Basingstoke 16 minutes late and 15.44 Exeter-Waterloo 17 minutes late, due to duff rolling stock. 15.22 Waterloo-Reading and 16.56 Reading-Waterloo cancelled due to no driver. 11.34 Wareham-Waterloo axed between Wareham and Poole due to delays on preceding service. 14.06 Poole-Waterloo axed between Poole and Bournemouth. 15.58 Alton-Waterloo axed between Alton and Farnham. 19.30 got to Southampton Central 16 minutes late; passengers just in time to see the connection for stations to Totton leave without them - it waited at signals for the 19.30 to pass, so it was obviously considered better to hold connections where passengers will miss them.
30/8/03 10.00 Brighton-Paignton 20 minutes late by Southampton. 10.48 Weymouth-Waterloo about 15 minutes late at Southampton. London-bound trains from the Exeter line severely delayed by points and signalling problems at Gillingham. Examples: 09.32 Yeovil-Waterloo only ran as far as Gillingham, 14.55 Paignton-Waterloo 42 minutes late and 16.10 Paignton-Southampton 17 minutes late. SWT's last West of England service, the 19.35 Waterloo-Honiton, axed between Waterloo and Woking due to cancellation of earlier service.
31/8/03 12.55 Totton-Romsey 17 minutes late; no explanation whatever. Passengers from Totton, Redbridge and Millbrook missed their connection to Edinburgh but just had time to catch the late-running London connection. Passengers from St Denys and Swaythling also lost the London connection. 14.55 Totton-Romsey 10 minutes late at Swaythling; connection with the Edinburgh train lost. 13.00 Romsey-Totton about 12 minutes late at Swaythling; 14.58 about 8 minutes late. 14.00 Plymouth-Waterloo 14 minutes late. 15.25 Paignton-Waterloo axed between Paignton and Exeter due to no crew - the Southampton portion of the down working had been advertised as delayed due to no crew. Oddly, SWT's website advertised the 17.45 Poole-Waterloo as starting from Bournemouth due to points failure; there is no 17.45 from Poole in the timetable, but there is a 17.55 from Bournemouth!
1/9/03 Trespass incident in West Byfleet area: SWT services collapsed. 14.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 60 minutes late. 14.35 Waterloo-Plymouth 59 minutes late. 14.40 Waterloo-Portsmouth 61 minutes late; passengers thrown off at Fareham. 14.45 Waterloo-Wareham one hour late. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 30 minutes late. 15.03 Waterloo-Gillingham 45 minutes late; passengers thrown off at Salisbury. 15.15 Waterloo-Southampton 48 minutes late; passengers thrown off at Eastleigh. 16.00 Waterloo-Poole 61 minutes late. 15.48 Waterloo-Alton was 54 minutes late and 16.18 was 44 minutes late; passengers for Bentley and Alton thrown off the 16.18. 16.23 Waterloo-Portsmouth 48 minutes late. 16.35 Waterloo-Exeter 16 minutes late. 16.47 Portsmouth-Waterloo ran non-stop from Portsmouth Harbour to London; nearly everyone thrown off or left behind. 17.00 Southampton-Waterloo started from Eastleigh due to delay on previous journey. 17.15 Gillingham-Salisbury cancelled. 17.15 Waterloo-Weymouth did not split at Southampton; passengers for intermediate stations to Bournemouth thrown off. 17.19 Southampton-Eastleigh and 17.34 Wareham-Waterloo cancelled. 17.33 Portsmouth-Southampton cancelled between Portsmouth and Fareham due to delayed previous service. 17.56 Waterloo-Portsmouth 10 minutes late at Eastleigh. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole 17 minutes late at Totton.
2/9/03 17.15 Waterloo-Weymouth over 10 minutes late at Southampton. Later services to and from Waterloo delayed by a train failure: 15.48 from Weymouth 20 minutes late; 16.57 from Portsmouth 15 minutes late; 17.35 from Alton over 10 minutes late; stock for 18.32 to Portsmouth expected at 18.53 and stock for 18.43 to Windsor expected at 19.00. Front portion of 18.50 to Poole arrived at 18.55; train left at 19.05. 19.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 5 coaches only due to duff rolling stock. 20.33 Portsmouth-Southampton 13 minutes late.
3/9/03 16.34 Wareham-Waterloo reduced to 5 coaches and 5 minutes late by Totton. For the second evening running, 19.30 Waterloo-Weymouth reduced to 5 coaches due to duff rolling stock. 19.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 12 minutes late at Bournemouth. 19.43 Poole-Waterloo 21 minutes late by Southampton. 22.02 Waterloo-Kingston cancelled due to no train crew.
4/9/03 18.05 Waterloo-Poole 7 minutes late at Totton; severely overheated due to duff air conditioning. 20.54 Portsmouth-Winchester 21 minutes late due to no crew. 21.37 Shepperton-Waterloo cancelled due to no crew.
5/9/03 Stock for 08.05 Waterloo-Alton expected at 08.28. 16.01 Portsmouth-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole 10 minutes late by Totton. 20.07 Weymouth-Waterloo 20 minutes late due to duff stock. 19.24 Reading Waterloo 20 minutes late; ran fast from Staines to Clapham Junction and passengers thrown off or left behind.
6/9/03 11.03 Chessington-Waterloo and 13.49 Dorking-Waterloo cancelled due to duff stock. 10.12 and 10.27 Reading-Waterloo started from Ascot due to train failure. 10.45 Waterloo-Dorking 12 minutes late. 14.15 Waterloo-Southampton cancelled due to no driver. 16.00 Southampton-Waterloo cancelled due to no driver. 13.39 / 16.39 Waterloo-Woking and 13.45 / 14.45 / 18.15 / 21.45 Woking-Waterloo cancelled due to no driver. 13.53 Ascot-Guildford cancelled due to no guard. 18.45 Waterloo-Guildford cancelled due to no driver. 17.07 Waterloo-Reading 18 minutes late due to delay on previous journey; 18.07 cancelled due to no driver. 18.03 Waterloo-Shepperton and 19.07 Shepperton-Waterloo cancelled due to no driver. 17.00 Southampton-Waterloo cancelled due to no train crew.
7/9/03 Serious problems for morning passengers on the Waterloo-Portsmouth via Guildford line due to an overrun of engineering works. Some trains diverted via Eastleigh. 10.52 Guildford-Waterloo stopping service 22 minutes late; all stops except Woking omitted and passengers thrown off / left behind. 14.14 Penzance-Brighton 28 minutes late. 17.40 Weymouth-Waterloo about 15 minutes late.
8/9/03 Start of week of huge disruption for later evening travellers. Winchester-Basingstoke closed from 22.00 on Monday to Thursday, and Guildford-Portsmouth line shut from 21.00 on Wednesday-Friday. 08.05 Waterloo-Alton cancelled. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 16.42, 17.25 and 17.58 Waterloo-Guildford, 17.33 Waterloo-Shepperton, 17.37 Waterloo-Epsom, 17.45 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo, 17.49 Waterloo-Dorking, 18.30 and 18.56 Waterloo-Hampton Court all reduced to 4 coaches with wretched overcrowding.
9/9/03 16.58 Waterloo-Windsor failed at Vauxhall. 17.56 Waterloo-Windsor cancelled due to duff rolling stock. 16.47 Waterloo-Richmond-Waterloo, 17.03 and 18.17 Waterloo-Shepperton, and 18.08 Waterloo-Haslemere all reduced to 4 coaches. 17.20 Waterloo-Portsmouth reduced to 8 coaches.
10/9/03 05.42 Poole-Waterloo 15 minutes late due to signalling problems at Swaythling and damp rails. 06.19 10 minutes late. 18.01 Portsmouth-Waterloo via Eastleigh 22 minutes late; 18.20 via Guildford 16 minutes late. 15.04 Poole-Waterloo and 16.01 Portsmouth-Waterloo both about 10 minutes late.
11/9/03 05.42 Poole-Waterloo nearly 20 minutes late; no explanation whatever, but there had been a shower of rain overnight. 16.50 Plymouth-Waterloo started 15 minutes late due to delay to previous train. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole 8 minutes late at Totton; rear coach of first unit had duff air conditioning, and its duff rearmost passenger door tried to shut on alighting Totton passengers even though all doors properly released by the guard.
12/9/03 01.05 Waterloo-Southampton terminated at Woking due to emergency engineering works. 06.06 Brockenhurst-Winchester 8 minutes late by Totton. 07.18 Basingstoke-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 16.12 Waterloo-Guildford, 17.08 to Portsmouth, 17.40 to Farnham, 18.08 to Haslemere, 18.18 to Alton and 18.30 to Hampton Court all reduced to 4 coaches due to duff rolling stock or "maintenance" (lack of spare units).
13/9/03 First Saturday of Southampton Boat Show - the City's major annual event. Southampton-Romsey line closed for engineering works. Totton-Romsey service discontinued between Eastleigh and Romsey, and new Chandlers Ford station served by Wessex Trains services. Line closed between Effingham Junction and Surbiton due to a fatality. Huge evening delays ascribed to delayed previous services, traincrew shortage, and a trespass incident: 17.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 36 minutes late; 18.30 15 minutes late. 16.40, 16.53, 17.08 and 17.38 Waterloo-Portsmouth all 25-30 minutes late. 16.35 Waterloo-Exeter and 16.45 Waterloo-Poole around 30 minutes late. 18.03 Chessington-Waterloo, 18.09 and 20.09 Hampton Court-Waterloo and 18.37 Shepperton-Waterloo all cancelled. 18.22 Exeter-Waterloo about 20 minutes late. 19.05 Reading-Brighton 36 minutes late; 21.24 Reading-Southampton 22 minutes late.
14/9/03 First Sunday of Southampton Boat Show - the City's major annual event. Southampton-Romsey line closed for engineering works. Totton-Romsey service discontinued between Eastleigh and Romsey, and new Chandlers Ford station served by Wessex Trains services. 14.14 Penzance-Brighton 23 minutes late by Southampton.
15/9/03 Signalling problems at Wimbledon. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo is scheduled to arrive at Waterloo at 17.33. Deceptively advertised on the screens as "due in" at 17.55. Actually arrived at 18.10. 16.27 Alton-Waterloo advertised as "due in" at 17.55 (21 minutes late). 16.01 from Portsmouth advertised as "due in" at 17.59 (11 minutes late). 16.15 from Salisbury advertised as "due in" at 18.05 (14 minutes late). 17.51 to Portsmouth left at 18.02. The 18.05 to Poole left at 18.20: it was 18 minutes late by Southampton and was then held at Millbrook for the 18.30 Waterloo-Weymouth to overtake. Passengers were not told that this would happen: those on board who normally change on to the 18.30 at Brockenhurst, and those waiting at Totton and Ashurst and similarly wanting to change on to the 18.30, all lost their "connection" for operational convenience. The 18.05 was then 23 minutes late by Totton where passengers just missed the last bus of the day to West Totton. 19.32 Alton-Waterloo 30 minutes late. 18.35 Waterloo to Exeter 18 minutes late; 18.40 to Portsmouth 26 minutes late; 19.05 to Salisbury 23 minutes late; 19.10 to Southampton 26 minutes late; 19.20 to Portsmouth 20 minutes late; 19.30 to Weymouth 13 minutes late. Misery for commuters returning home late from 15 to 17 September inclusive, because line closed from 22.00 between Winchester and Basingstoke for engineering works.
16/9/03 05.42 Poole-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 15.56 Reading-Waterloo cancelled due to duff rolling stock. 16.48 Waterloo-Hounslow, 18.59 Waterloo-Shepperton and 19.38 Waterloo-Portsmouth all reduced to 4 coaches due to rolling stock maintenance or defects. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole reduced to 5 coaches - hugely overcrowded with many standing for over an hour to Winchester, and 5 minutes late by Southampton.
17/9/03 07.40 Southampton-Waterloo failed in the Winchester area, blocking the up track and causing huge delays to other trains, including the time-sensitive service to Aberdeen. 10.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 58 minutes late; passengers thrown off at Dorchester so that, for operational convenience, the train could return to Waterloo in place of the 13.48 from Weymouth. 14.35 Waterloo-Plymouth 22 minutes late due to "earlier fault" on train. Many trains scheduled to arrive at Waterloo between 17.00 and 17.30 running 5-15 minutes late. 17.51 Waterloo-Portsmouth left at 17.57. MIND BOGGLING? 18.05 Waterloo-Poole came to a halt after passing Vauxhall. The guard announced that this delay was due to someone opening a door on the train and walking on the (electrified) track. This quickly became a topic of conversation among regular passengers, because trains continued to pass on adjacent tracks. After 15 minutes, the 18.05 started to move again, and lost more time by running slow-line all the way to Basingstoke. No ticket check. The train was about 25 minutes late by Southampton. The local service to Totton was then sent ahead; Totton passengers on the 18.05 were unnecessarily further delayed because nobody bothered to tell them that this would happen. The guard, who had disappeared into the driving cab at Eastleigh, then announced that the 18.30 Waterloo-Weymouth (now running 18 minutes late) would overtake, and that passengers for Bournemouth could change. Seconds later the doors closed, just as the 18.30 pulled in. The 18.05 then departed, ensuring that it couldn't pick up the Totton passengers off the 18.30 who had lost their scheduled connection with the local service. The 18.05 then had a long wait at signals for the 18.30 to overtake, and arrived at Totton 32 minutes late. As on Monday, passengers missed the last bus to West Totton. (Following an enquiry by the Health and Safety Executive as to why the power was not turned off if someone was walking on the track, they write "I have contacted South West Trains and received their reply. The person who alighted from the train was seen by the guard to exit railway property after leaving the train. If this had not been so and the person had been on the track, then the power supply would have been isolated and trains stopped until the person could be removed. This was not necessary on this occasion, although Network Rail Control were advised of the incident and the Civil Police Informed." It's hard to imagine a passenger stopping a train in order to jump off, in the rush hour, on a busy maze of electrified lines, not knowing where it would stop. But if the person left railway premises before the power could be turned off, why was there such a huge delay, particularly as trains on adjacent tracks kept running? The Group has since learned through unofficial Network Rail channels that there was in any case a piece of metal debris on the track in that area. How did it get there in the peak - had it fallen off a train?) 18.50 Waterloo-Poole 18 minutes late. 20.50 Guildford-Waterloo cancelled due to duff rolling stock. This was an unhappy evening to have been broadcasting imagination-stretching information about passengers on the track. At around 19.00 a 10 year old girl was electrocuted in the Staines area. 19.24 Reading-Waterloo 58 minutes late; 19.54 37 minutes late. 19.16 Windsor-Waterloo 44 minutes late. 19.46 Windsor-Waterloo 21 minutes late. 19.20 Weybridge-Waterloo 23 minutes late; 19.50 14 minutes late.
18/9/03 19.30 Waterloo-Weymouth reduced to 5 coaches due to duff rolling stock.
19/9/03 Seat collapsed under passenger on the 05.42 Poole-Waterloo. Signalling problems in the Raynes Park area; Waterloo suburban services severely restricted during the afternoon. Overcrowding hell on the 16.30 Waterloo-Weymouth; some windows smashed in the rear two coaches, which were closed to passengers. This was blamed on vandalism. 16.50 Plymouth-Waterloo 23 minutes late. 19.30 Waterloo-Weymouth again reduced to 5 coaches. 20.21 Guildford-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches.
20/9/03 Second Saturday of Southampton Boat Show - the City's major annual event. Southampton-Romsey line closed for engineering works. Totton-Romsey service discontinued between Eastleigh and Romsey, and new Chandlers Ford station served by Wessex Trains services. 10.27 Guildford-Ascot, 11.37 Shepperton-Waterloo and 11.53 Ascot-Guildford all cancelled due to duff rolling stock. Train broke down in the Vauxhall area around 11.00 - huge disruption. 11.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 25 minutes late; 12.35 to Exeter 22 minutes late; 12.45 to Poole 54 minutes late; 13.00 to Wareham 10 minutes late. 13.12 Reading-Waterloo, 13.48 Epsom-Waterloo and 14.30 Waterloo-Epsom all cancelled. 15.35 Waterloo-Penzance 25 minutes late at Andover due to duff rolling stock; 16.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 12 minutes late at Southampton; 17.17 Waterloo circular via Brentford 18 minutes late; 17.55 Windsor-Waterloo 22 minutes late; 20.30 Waterloo-Weymouth about 25 minutes late at Southampton.
21/9/03 Second Sunday of Southampton Boat Show - the City's major annual event. Southampton-Romsey line closed for engineering works. Totton-Romsey service discontinued between Eastleigh and Romsey, and new Chandlers Ford station served by Wessex Trains services. 16.40 Portsmouth-Waterloo 15 minutes late due to duff rolling stock.
22/9/03 A quick check of the SWT website at 17.30 showed the 16.32 Waterloo-Basingstoke running 21 minutes late; the 16.37 to Ascot 20 minutes late; the 16.52 to Reading 21 minutes late; and the 16.58 to Windsor reduced to 4 coaches. There was also a brief reference to some signalling problems at Wimbledon. The link to the National Rail website was down, but the NR website itself showed the 14.48 from Weymouth, which forms the 18.05 back to Poole, as arriving at Waterloo on time. The truth: following a couple of hours of moderate rainfall, there were serious operating problems with huge chaos, and flooding on some platforms at Waterloo despite the millions spent on the new roof. Terrible crush of people on the concourse, and very difficult to move. The 14.48 from Weymouth was 30 minutes late; the information screens simply showed train after train as delayed, with no indication of when or whether they might run. At 17.57, the only advertised train via Winchester was the 17.56 to Portsmouth. This left a few minutes late and then stood for some 10 minutes just beyond New Malden station, opposite an empty Mark I unit which appeared to have failed and was blocking the up slow line. The 17.56 then proceeded to Woking where another 5 minutes were wasted throwing off passengers who had boarded because the screens showed it as being for Haslemere via Guildford - the guard busy announcing that the train was for Cosham via Eastleigh whilst a member of staff on the platform was announcing it as going to Portsmouth and Southsea via Eastleigh. The train was over 15 minutes late by Eastleigh. The 16.45 Waterloo-Poole was reduced to a 4-coach Mark I unit, and had not departed by 17.10. The two units for the 17.15 to Weymouth/Poole were signalled into different platforms. The train therefore ran as two services throughout, the Poole portion being advertised as a special service. The 18.05 to Poole was about 25 minutes late; the 18.30 to Weymouth 42 minutes late; the 18.50 to Poole 47 minutes late; and the 19.30 to Weymouth 33 minutes late. The 18.00 Brighton-Basingstoke was about 16 minutes late; the 19.49 Waterloo-Guildford 35 minutes late, with all stops before Epsom omitted; the 20.45 and 21.15 Woking-Waterloo stopping services were cancelled, and the 20.07 Shepperton-Waterloo was 18 minutes late with all stops before Teddington omitted.
23/9/03 At 08.00 the screens at Waterloo showed most mainline arrivals as up to 10 minutes late. The front portion of the 18.50 Waterloo-Poole arrived 16 minutes late at 18.49. The 18.50 therefore started at 18.55 with its accumulation of litter intact. The 17.08 to Portsmouth; 17.29 to Hampton Court, 17.49 to Dorking, and 18.53 to Chessington were all reduced to 4 coaches due to "unit maintenance" (=rolling stock shortage).
24/9/03 10.40 Haslemere-Waterloo started from Guildford due to duff rolling stock. 07.10 Waterloo-Paignton 22 minutes late. 10.05 Reading-Brighton started from Basingstoke. 15.54 Portsmouth-Waterloo 22 minutes late; stops at Hook, Winchfield, Fleet, Farnborough, Brookwood and Surbiton omitted and passengers thrown off. 17.27 Windsor-Waterloo started from Staines due to delays on previous journey. 18.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 42 minutes late due to a lineside fire; 19.30 16 minutes late due to a delay to preceding service; connections for stations to Portsmouth and Totton not honoured. A Totton passenger who complained was told "There's no such thing as a connection now, Sir".
25/9/03 15.04 Poole-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 16.01 Portsmouth-Waterloo 30 minutes late. 17.08 and 17.34 Waterloo-Portsmouth, and 18.06 Waterloo-Epsom reduced to 4 coaches due to unit maintenance (=rolling stock shortage). 18.21 to Basingstoke and 18.37 to Alton reduced to 8 coaches. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo over 30 minutes late due to a duff unit which failed at Bournemouth and had to be detached. This train forms the 18.05 Waterloo-Poole. At 17.55 it was announced that the 18.05 would be 5 coaches only and that the Winchester and Eastleigh stops would be omitted; passengers should use the 17.56 to Portsmouth, ancient slam-door stock which left hugely overcrowded. It was then announced that the coaches for the 18.05 would arrive at platform 9 at 18.08. The departure screens showed it as stopping at Winchester and Eastleigh after all. At 18.08 a Wessex Electric unit duly arrived in platform 11. It was then announced that the stock for the 18.05 was further delayed by congestion at Clapham, and would arrive at 18.15. At 18.22 the train finally departed with terrible overcrowding and Saharan conditions in the front coach due to duff air conditioning. At Winchester, passengers found the internal sliding door at the front of the first coach was duff, so they had to turn back and try to walk the length of the carriage to the next available door. This process was slow as there were still standing passengers and their luggage in the vestibules. The guard then announced that passengers for Eastleigh and the Portsmouth line had to change at Winchester. A wild scramble ensued, the doors closed, and the train left with passengers who had been trying to alight at Winchester queuing through half the length of the first coach's gangway. The guard then announced that the next stop would be Eastleigh.
26/9/03 At 19.30 most main line arrivals into Waterloo were up to 10 minutes late. 20.30 (last service of the day) to Weymouth was only 5 carriages on this busy Friday evening. Many standing passengers. Guard announced that she hadn't allowed a man with a bike to board because that would have delayed the departure (by 20 seconds?) and she was sorry that there were no reserved seats - this was due to the lateness of the incoming service.
27/9/03 07.08 Salisbury-Brighton 15 minutes late. 07.33 Portsmouth-Southampton 17 minutes late "due to waiting for carriages to form the train" (= running late due to late running?). 07.19 Staines-Reading and 08.12 Reading-Waterloo cancelled between Reading and Ascot due to duff stock.
28/9/03 First day of the Winter timetable; delegates travelling to the Labour Party Conference at Bournemouth and many students on the move. Waterloo-Weymouth trains reduced to 5 coaches (presumably because so many units duff - see recent reports). Waterloo-Bournemouth stopping services formed of aged 8-coach Mark I units. 09.50 from Waterloo to Bournemouth about 8 minutes late. Connection with the stopping service from Romsey to Totton not honoured. As the 09.50 pulled into Brockenhurst, one delegate spotted the Lymington connection departing from the opposite face of the platform.
29/9/03 FIRST COMMUTING DAY OF THE REDUCED TIMETABLE, WHEN THERE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A BIG IMPROVEMENT IN PERFORMANCE 08.43 Waterloo-Windsor started from Twickenham due to delay to previous service. 07.18 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 29 minutes late and omitted all stations from Twickenham to Vauxhall for operational convenience. 07.19 Aldershot-Waterloo 20 minutes late due to delay to previous service. 08.23 Waterloo-Portsmouth stopping service 17 minutes late due to delay to previous service - all stops between Woking and Portsmouth omitted for operational convenience and passengers thrown off. 08.48 and 08.54 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo trains 16 and 23 minutes late respectively. 09.03 Haslemere-Waterloo 21 minutes late. 10.05 Reading-Brighton 51 minutes late due to a points problem. 10.12 Guildford-Waterloo cancelled due to no train. 11.04 Guildford-Waterloo cancelled due to no guard. 11.25 Basingstoke-Brighton cancelled due to no driver. 11.18 Waterloo-Alton and 13.00 Alton-Waterloo announced in advance as axed between Farnham and Alton due to a slow moving freight train. 12.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 10 minutes late. 15.15 Waterloo-Portsmouth via Eastleigh 32 minutes late due to no crew. 15.47 Guildford-Waterloo 18 minutes late; 8 stops omitted for operational convenience. 15.54 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 18 minutes late; 4 stops omitted for operational convenience. 16.05 Reading-Brighton 16 minutes late due to delay on previous service. 16.27 Alton-Waterloo and 17.48 Waterloo-Alton reduced to 8 coaches, due to shortage of coaches (!). 16.54 Portsmouth-Waterloo via Eastleigh reduced to 4 coaches. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole 7 minutes late; 18.50 14 minutes late. So much for SWT's additional evening services: 21.30 Waterloo-Poole cancelled due to no crew. Guard of the delayed 16.44 Newcastle-Southampton announced that passengers should change at Southampton Airport for the 22.46 to Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Romsey. Unfortunately, by the time the Newcastle train's doors had opened (30 seconds after 22.46), the Romsey train had departed. Romsey passengers would therefore have had a much quicker journey if they had stayed on the train to Southampton Central and caught the 23.09 service.
30/9/03 11.25 Basingstoke-Brighton 34 minutes late due to duff stock. 13.00 Alton-Waterloo reduced to 8 coaches due to stock shortage. 12.22 Waterloo-Reading 15 minutes late due to no crew. 14.00 Waterloo-Poole about 15 minutes late. 15.08 Waterloo-Portsmouth Harbour terminated at Portsmouth and Southsea. 15.55 Windsor-Waterloo started from Staines due to delay on previous journey. Bagshot-Camberley services disrupted in the evening peak due to duff train. 16.40 Basingstoke-Waterloo and 17.56 Waterloo-Eastleigh-Portsmouth already advertised at 13.00 as reduced to 4 coaches due to duff stock. 18.18 Waterloo-Dorking, 19.09 Waterloo-Guildford and 19.19 Dorking-Waterloo all reduced to 4 coaches due to rolling stock shortage. 18.30 Waterloo-Weymouth about 20 minutes late due to duff stock. 22.38 Chessington-Waterloo cancelled due to duff rolling stock.
New Totton-Romsey service: Big success but needs to be better run
The new station at Chandlers Ford has reached 600 daily passenger journeys in 4 months; this was the target for the end of the first year of service, and it was achieved before the station building was complete and before the car park was available. This shows that there really is a future for local rail journeys in the Southampton conurbation - just as the SRA and SWT are busy slashing other services.
However, the new service could do even better if properly run. Group member David Wallis and his wife tried to catch the 15.10 from Romsey to Totton on 9th August. It didn't turn up, there was no announcement, the station is unstaffed in the afternoon, and there is no helpline. David tried to contact SWT from the public call box outside the station, but his money ran out while the pre-recorded message was giving him options. He noted that there is no timetable for the Totton service on Romsey station.
When the next Totton train (16.14 service) arrived, the guard said the 15.10 had been cancelled but gave no reason. David wrote to SWT who eventually replied to say that the 15.10 had been cancelled due to traincrew problems. They regretted that they were unable to comment on provision of information at Romsey station because the station is the responsibility of Wessex Trains, whose address they provided.
It seems quite extraordinary that SWT should take a generous subsidy for running the service and then decline to sort out any problems with it. The covers of the National Timetable and SWT's own timetable booklet bear the legend "National Rail Britain's train companies working together". Some hope?
There have been a good number of cancellations during the Summer, due to lack of traincrews or rolling stock failure. In addition, it seems very poor planning that engineering works meant the service being suspended between Romsey and Eastleigh over the two full weekends of the International Boat Show, probably Southampton's major annual event. Whilst Wessex Trains served Chandlers Ford station instead, these services do not provide an alternative direct service to Southampton, and we are told that departure times were not displayed.
The failure to honour connections is extraordinary - even at 22.46 when (on 29 September) the Romsey train departed from Southampton Airport just as the guard of the arriving Virgin service from Newcastle was telling passengers to alight to catch it. This meant an hour's delay late at night, and alighting passengers lost the opportunity of an earlier Romsey departure from Southampton Central.
On more minor points, it would be nice if the system maps on the units which operate the Totton-Romsey service could at least be overwritten to show that SWT operates between Eastleigh and Romsey. It would also have been good if the internal destination displays hadn't shown Millbrook as "Milbrook" all Summer. (a small point, but indicative of shoddiness).
It has taken a decade of effort by HCC to achieve the new service. It could be a beacon for the regeneration of local rail travel, but SWT need to pull their socks up. Already the issue of over-pricing has had to be addressed.
Moderating the language of failure
SWT appears to be stretching the English language to soften references to the poor service which its passengers so often receive. Examples:
Should you discover something wrong with the railway infrastructure, or if you think your train may be damaging the track because of rough riding which appears to be due to poor suspension or a flat (= wheel which needs re-profiling), you can report the matter to Network Rail on 08457 711 4141.
Meanwhile Lymington bus station has been rebuilt, with 35 buses running out of the town, operated by Go Ahead Group, who took over Wilts and Dorset during August. Extending all bus services to and from the town rail station would provide a wide range of interchange possibilities. This would be a particularly attractive option if direct train services run to destinations beyond Brockenhurst, where connections are routinely missed under the present arrangements.
Points of Interest
Two excuses given during August for no sandwiches being on sale aboard the 18.05 Waterloo-Poole about 15 minutes after departure:
The 'live running' information on SWT's website is presented as being for passengers' 'peace of mind'. There are too often times when the long list of delays, cancellations, short formations, and failures en route seem to be crying out for passengers' 'piece of mind' !
Months after withdrawal of the Southampton-Hythe railbus link, a sign on Southampton station directs passengers who want to catch it to leave via the exit on platform 1.
Network Rail is to improve the track layout at Filton Junction by the end of 2004. Incredibly, Bristol trains - including services between Portsmouth and Cardiff - currently have to join / leave the South Wales main line via a single track section. The Portsmouth-Cardiff trains are extremely popular, and many have passengers standing for long distances. Couldn't the SRA use precious funds to increase the fleet for this service rather than to prop up Stagecoach's share price?
Is Swaythling the most uninviting station in Britain? It looks like some neglected relic from World War II.
The Wessex Electrics are possibly the only train units in Britain with neither destination nor route code displays. This anonymity appears to be spreading to some SWT stations as the blue lettering on the name boards fades. Perhaps Hook in particular should be renamed Nopersonsland.
The official opening of Chandlers Ford station is scheduled for Sunday 19 October, with Charlie Dimmock as celebrity guest. The event will start at about 11.40. Steam specials are scheduled to leave Eastleigh for Salisbury at 12.40 and 16.40, and return from Salisbury at 14.45 and 18.55. There will be a hogroast for members of the public and the festivities are expected to last until 16.00
The Rail Passengers Committee for Southern England's next public meeting is scheduled to take place in Gillingham, Kent 11 November. The Committee can be contacted at Centric House, 390/391 Strand, London, WC2R 0LT. Tel 020 7240 5308. Fax 020 7240 8923. They now have an email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, and website: www.railpassengers.org.uk/Southern. Next year's meetings are scheduled for 30 March (SWT area), 20 July (South Central area) and 26 October (South Eastern area).
Railfuture, the former Railway Development Society, campaigns for better rail services throughout Great Britain, and has 17 local groups affiliated to thousands of people in rail user groups. Produces a quarterly magazine 'Railwatch'.
The organisation's philosophy is that there are many positive economic, social and environmental reasons to travel by rail: roads cause 134 times more pollution than rail, travel by rail is at least 18 times safer than by car, and one train can replace more than 100 lorries.
Membership is £17.50 for one year for an individual; £17.50 for a family (+ £2 per extra person); £8.50 for an OAP/student/unwaged person; and £35 for a local authority or company (information correct at April 2003).
Address is 207 Colourworks, 2 Abbot Street, London E8 3DP. Website: www.railfuture.org.uk Tel: 020 7249 5533. Fax: 020 7254 6777.E'mail (To Marketing Director Kate Tudor-Pole) email@example.com