HOGRIDER 107 : FEBRUARY-MID APRIL 2006
SOUTH HAMPSHIRE RAIL USERS' GROUP NEWSLETTER
FACTS WHICH SPEAK VOLUMES
RE-FRANCHISING - WHO MISLEADS WINS?
STAGECOACH’S HIGHLY MISLEADING PRESS RELEASE
LOOKING AFTER PASSENGERS THE SWT WAY
JUST WHY DID THE EVENING PEAK SERVICE COLLAPSE ON 10 MARCH?
STAGECOACH TO PROFIT FROM LOW STANDARDS
STATION SAFETY MEASURES TO BE SET FOR SWT
BOURNEMOUTH AND POOLE GAIN NASTY STATION REPUTE
COMMUNITY RAIL LINES NEED THE RIGHT OPERATOR
PASSENGER FOCUS MEETING ON FARES
SWT RE-FRANCHISING AND POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS ON ROMSEY-EASTLEIGH
FIRST GROUP ISSUES
DIARY OF A TOTTON-WATERLOO COMMUTER – 6
RAIL PERFORMANCE REPORTS
APPENDIX 3: MEDIA REPORTS ON THE ENVIRONMENT
MEDIA REPORTS ON TRANSPORT
FACTS WHICH SPEAK VOLUMES
(1) OVER 100% The cash terms increase in the Totton-Waterloo annual season ticket rate from 1987 to 2006. This reflects hefty rises in the early years to make rail operation attractive to the private sector, providing them with the means to run a better service.
UNDER 2% The cash terms increase, provided by SWT, for the annual Totton-All Zones London Travel Card from January 1996 to January 2006. This reflects how heavily SWT has been capped for poor performance while operated by Stagecoach.
(2) 6/2/2006 “Safety and security is our number one priority” – SWT press release to celebrate 10 years of Stagecoach franchises on South West Trains.
24/2/2006 “SWT told: Hire guards or lose rail franchise” - Evening Standard headline referring to sloppy station security.
(3) “We won’t hesitate to walk away if we can’t get our terms” - former SWT chairman Graham Eccles talking about the SWT franchise to Rail Professional magazine in November 2002.
“GNER has been a model of successful rail privatisation…It has raised passenger numbers and revenue dramatically, even though its fares have risen by less than those of other operators. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that [chief executive Christopher] Garnett – a passionate railwayman – was so in love with the business that he couldn’t bear the thought of losing the franchise” – Evening Standard 13 April 2006.
(4) SWT accounts for about 162 million passenger journeys a year, up 20% over 3 years. Passenger satisfaction is officially up from 64% to 84% over 4 years. So unsatisfactory passenger journeys on SWT presumably now stand at around 26 million a year (70,000 a day), down from 49 million a year (135,000 a day)
(5) SWT leaflet attempting to justify the much slower December 2004 timetable: “A timetable devised in 1967 no longer reflects the demands of 2004….Over 80 local authorities and passenger user groups across our network have been consulted and where possible their feedback has been acted on."
Confirmation in Issue 2 of SWT’s ‘e’motion’ magazine that it was NOT TRUE that the pre-December 2004 timetable was anything like the 1967 timetable: “The present timetable has evolved over many years and is designed to optimise the available capacity into Waterloo during peak periods”.
Confirmation from former SWT Managing Director Andrew Haines to Dr Julian Lewis MP that it was NOT TRUE that user groups were consulted: "It would be impossible for us to carry out detailed consultation on something as radical as a completely new timetable and our established consultation processes are with County and District councils, the Rail Passengers Committees and elected representatives such as MPs”.
First Group’s “Firstline” stakeholder leaflet referring to the company’s detailed consultation on the December 2006 Great Western timetable and showing that First Great Western achieves what SWT considers “impossible”: “Draft timetable of almost 1,500 daily services sent to more than 1,000 stakeholders…3,350 individual e’mails and letters received…petitions with around 5,300 signatures received…All feedback received will be studied.”
REFRANCHISING - WHO MISLEADS WINS?
The re-franchising exercise on SWT is turning out to be a dirty fight. Everywhere you look, SWT’s “£1 billion fleet of new trains” is dangled before your eyes, presumably to win support for Stagecoach. There are references for example in SWT’s e’motion magazines numbers 14 and 15, in the company’s 10th anniversary press release and in media articles based on the release, and in the March edition of Rail News. SWT’s modus operandi is apparently to stay just outside the remit of the Advertising Standards Authority, which has in the past upheld complaints against them on similar issues.
So what does the figure of £1 billion represent? SWT originally ordered, for hire, 785 new Desiro carriages worth £644m. The long term maintenance contract for this fleet increased the “investment” sum to £1bn. It is difficult to envisage that anyone buying a car would include the maintenance costs as part of the investment.
However, SWT took delivery of only 665 new carriages. The balance of 120 carriages is now operated by other companies, on local services from Euston to Northampton and in the West Midlands. So the breakdown of SWT’s investment in new trains is, on a rough pro-rata basis:
Value of 665 carriages to be hired by SWT: £545m
Maintenance contract in respect of these 665 new carriages: £300m
Value and maintenance cost of 120 carriages deployed elsewhere: £155m.
It follows that “£1 billion” = just over half a billion. Clearly SWT thinks that this sleight of hand is to its advantage. In issue 13 of its e’motion magazine, it tells us that:
“South West Trains was named Passenger Rail Operator of the Year in the National Rail Awards 2005. The honour follows a year which has seen us introduce a new timetable and a £1bn fleet of new trains…”
That there is a new timetable is, on the other hand, undoubtedly true and many passengers –especially long-distance commuters, SWT’s best customers – suffer as a consequence every working day. Chris Francombe, Poole council's transport policy manager, is quoted in the Bournemouth Echo of 2 March as saying of the Waterloo-Weymouth main line, "This is the only principal rail service in the country that's actually got slower over the years." Not much credit to Stagecoach that it had got even slower from December 2004.
So when SWT’s Managing Director, Stewart Palmer, stated in SWT’s 10th anniversary press release that “With a glittering array of awards collected along the way for our successful progression this can only demonstrate our determination to continue to deliver a quality service”, it is as well to remember that all that glisters is not gold.
This might be a relatively trite issue if ethics were all that were at stake. However, SWT is bidding for a franchise renewal which is likely in the short term to net the successful bidder huge sums of public money, which means huge sums from our taxes. Should Stagecoach be awarded another franchise, might another bidder go for judicial review?
So how about glittering awards for wasting commuters’ lives with slower services, for not introducing the promised number of new coaches, for seriously neglecting some secondary stations, for being fined more than any other rail franchise operator for poor performance, for running the only trains in Britain with permanent hazard warning tape to mark finger traps where the coaches join, and for officially operating 3 of the 10 most overcrowded trains in Britain (06.42 Haslemere-Waterloo; 07.03 Weybridge-Waterloo; and 08.04 Isleworth-Waterloo)?
STAGECOACH’S HIGHLY MISLEADING PRESS RELEASE
SWT issued a press release on 6 February 2006. It is reproduced below with comments in square brackets.
“South West Trains celebrated 10 years as train operator for the South and South West of England on Saturday 4 February 2006.
Since Stagecoach ran the first passenger train in the early hours of February 4 1996 there has been millions of pounds invested in safety and security, millions invested in a real time Customer Information System, millions in refurbishment at stations across the network and a £1 billion fleet of trains has been introduced, the UK’s biggest order. [The billion pound fleet of new trains which SWT is to hire is actually worth about £545 million as above. Biggest order is meaningless; SWT ordered 785 new carriages and delivered 665; Southern ordered and delivered 742. Much of the other investment has been realised with only a contribution from Stagecoach. Many stations are in a terrible physical state as reported in the Southern Daily Echo of 27 January 2007, and many have little security for passengers as recorded in various editions of the Evening Standard –see articles below.]
All of this has resulted in much happier passengers as the recent National Passenger Survey revealed our highest ever overall passenger satisfaction result of 84%. [Who takes part in these surveys? – Stagecoach director Rufus Boyd made clear in his address to the Hampshire Economic Forum in February 2005 that his best customers, long-distance commuters, were far from happy. There are apparently still 26 million unsatisfactory journeys a year on SWT, scarcely a laudable achievement.]
10 of our highlights are listed below:
1. One of our biggest successes has been the introduction of our innovative TravelSafe Officers. Employed by us and deployed by the British Transport Police they provide reassurance to our employees and passengers at stations and on trains. This has resulted in a continual drop in crime with the latest figures showing a 36% reduction. [Compare with article on station safety issues below. We have previously commented that the TravelSafe officers are rarely seen and often appear to act as back-up to revenue protection officers. Interesting to see SWT’s own words putting the safety of employees before the safety of passengers. Could risks to the safety of employees be remotely connected to passengers’ 26 million unsatisfactory journeys a year? Go-Ahead chief executive Chris Moyes has attracted considerable condemnation for saying he would hire security guards to protect conductors from passengers (Evening Standard 28/3/2006) – could it be that his idea was inspired by SWT practice?]
2. Our £1 billion fleet of Desiro trains has been successfully introduced across the network resulting in us becoming the first train operator to withdraw slam door trains in May 2005. [Again, there is no billion pound fleet of new trains. Slam door trains still operate to Lymington, so SWT is the last operator to withdraw them, as in paragraph 7 below.]
3. As well introducing new trains we invested £67 million in refurbishing our existing 455 suburban units. This is ongoing and we currently have 20 refurbished units in passenger service with completion set for 2008. [Private Eye points out that Stagecoach would not pay the £67 million up front; the banks who own them would make the investment. How many occasional passengers would know that 455 is the class of unit and not the number of units hired? Refurbishment includes removal of 6,500 seats to create standing room in compensation for the 120 carriages which were ordered but not delivered.]
4. Safety and Security is our number one priority which is why we are continually investing in this area. In 1996 there was a total of 49 stations covered by CCTV cameras and now in 2006 we have a total of 133. All of our improvements in this area have contributed towards us securing 47 Secure Station accreditations which is the highest amount out of any train operator. [Secure stations tend to be gated in daytime when there is most revenue to protect, with the gates left open and unattended late at night when passengers are most vulnerable to attack.]
5. In December 2004 we introduced our biggest project to date – a brand new award-winning timetable to reflect the passenger demands of today. As a result of this we now break the 90% performance barrier on a regular basis and were able to provide an additional 12 trains into London Waterloo in the morning peak. [As Tim Nicholson, of the former Southern Rail Passengers Committee said, train times have been inflated, so the improvements for passengers are “entirely fictitious”.]
6. We were the first company to create an integrated control centre since privatisation which allows South West Trains and Network Rail controllers to work side-by-side. This results in better communication and quicker decision-making. [We thought it was a joint initiative between SWT and Network Rail. Either way, SWT is clearly content for scheduled stops to be axed, and passengers dumped, at the drop of a hat, causing enormous inconvenience. One reason why employee safety is an issue, as above?]
7. Remaining an integral part of the community is important to us which is why we created the Lymington Heritage Line in the heart of the New Forest. By buying two Mark One trains outright and refurbishing them we are helping to make the line more cost effective which will help to safeguard its future. [The slower journey times on the main lines are wasteful of rolling stock, so Lymington gets left with long-outdated trains. Note that retaining Mark I trains seems to be a plus, whilst getting rid of “slam-door” trains (the same thing) is a plus in paragraph 2.]
8. We have reopened Chandler’s Ford station and have carried out major works to Southampton Central and Winchester stations. Between April 2004 and April 2005 we made a total investment of £10 million in station improvements across the network. Some of these investments have been made in partnership with Transport for London, local authorities and local businesses. [There was no station to reopen. Hampshire County Council funded building of the station, the SRA funded the trains, and SWT caused an outrage with disproportionately high fares. The works at Southampton and Winchester are hardly “major” – the costs are peanuts compared with the money Stagecoach spent on unsuccessful bids for 3 other franchises.]
9. megatrain.com was introduced on the Portsmouth and Southampton to London Waterloo routes and gives passengers the chance to travel for as little as £1 (plus a 50p booking fee). [Although Megatrain descriptions are fairly vague, it appears that Stagecoach is creaming off a small amount of profit by using SWT resources funded by taxpayers. It seems surprising that this is legal under competition law.]
10. A tribute to all our hard efforts was in September 2005 when we were named Passenger Operator of the Year at the National Rail Awards. [Not by passengers! Presumably the award was principally for improving punctuality by slowing down trains. Lower standards are inevitably easier to meet.]
Managing Director Stewart Palmer said: “When we took over in 1996 the first few years were by far the hardest, but we put our heart and soul into delivering a railway to be proud of. I can assure you we will not rest on our laurels and we will continue our journey to deliver a right time railway.” [Mr Palmer is new in post so can be forgiven for not knowing the truth. Heart and soul of “greed” in line with Stagecoach Chairman, Brian Souter’s “capitalism based on greed”? SWT took on the franchise and quickly caused an outrage by disposing of so many staff, to maximise profits, that the service fell apart. Hasn’t Mr Palmer read “Stagecoach” by Christian Wolmar?]
With a glittering array of awards collected along the way for our successful progression this can only demonstrate our determination to continue to deliver a quality service.
Stewart Palmer said: “South West Trains has had an interesting 10-year journey and I am proud to be part of this company and of all the employees who have accompanied us along the way and worked hard to get us to where we are today. Our task now is to deliver excellent customer service day in, day out.”” [So much for being the operator most penalised for poor performance, the wrongful dismissal of driver Sarah Friday, the wrongful demotion of driver Greg Tucker, and former SWT Chairman Graham Eccles’ comment that one of the two things people said to him most was that morale had never been lower - as exemplified by several rounds of industrial action which had devastating effects on commuters’ lives. When will the excellent service delivery start, so that there may be fewer than 26 million unsatisfactory passengers journeys annually?]
The Southern Daily Echo of 11 February ran an article in which our organiser attempted to put the record straight. Unfortunately, the reporter misquoted one comment about fares but, whilst this clearly gave SWT a field day, this was corrected in the edition of 16 February. SWT made some typically misleading responses, such as referring to 1990’s 66-minute timings from Southampton to Waterloo (since inflated by 19.7%) as being by “an off-peak train”, which in fact was an hourly service for most of the day. Whilst they tried to attack him as a vociferous critic and suggested that his dissatisfaction was untypical – ignoring passengers’ 26 million unsatisfactory journey experiences per year, they did confess that though they were improving they still had “a long way to go”. They are one of the few companies which has had the advantage of running a franchise for anything like as long as ten years!!!
Following this article, one reader wrote to say “the criticism is a little harsh”, whilst fully accepting that “there is still much to do and the state of the smaller stations needs addressing”. This drew the response from a Woodlands resident that “SWT has some fine qualities – the excellence of its PR department is one, its ability to generate large dividends is another – but running a customer-focused railway is one quality which eludes it. We are only just now managing to get back to the kind of performance levels that existed when SWT started its franchise almost 10 years ago, unfortunately only achieved with the assistance of a slowed-down timetable. SWT has not shown the level of customer service that passengers deserve. A company that lets connecting stopping services depart before delayed mainline trains have arrived, only for the stopping service to wait at signals for the mainline train to overtake (as happens at Southampton Central) cannot care about its customers. Similarly the practice of omitting stops to speed up delayed peak-time trains in order to run returning (far less loaded) services on time, compounds the misery of being on a delayed train by being chucked off at an intermediate station to await a later service. We can but hope that one of the other train operating companies will replace SWT during this year’s refranchising exercise”.
Surely many, many, long-distance commuters will understand that aspiration.
LOOKING AFTER PASSENGERS THE SWT WAY
On Saturday 11 February, the 08.00 Weymouth-Waterloo failed at Upwey station, barely more than two miles outside Weymouth. Passengers were left in the cold for an hour, or for a bit less in the case of those going to Dorchester who used the 08.18 Wessex Trains service from Weymouth, itself delayed 42 minutes by SWT’s duff stock. The faulty but warm SWT train reportedly ran back to Weymouth empty. Staff were accused of lacking communications skills. Passengers with reserved seats on the 08.00 found that it had been too much bother for SWT to arrange reservations on the 09.00. SWT claimed that the duff train had been taken to Bournemouth rather than Weymouth, and that it hadn’t been fit to carry passengers. [Despite its having just carried passengers from Weymouth to Upwey!] (Source: Dorset Echo 13/2/06)
On Sunday 19 February, the 19.05 Waterloo-Bournemouth was formed of a 4-car outer-suburban Desiro unit. Passengers reported cattle truck conditions, with overcrowding so bad that the guard announced, 20 minutes before departure, that all passengers could use the first class seats. The hot conditions and long diversion via Staines made this a journey from hell.
After Hampshire County Council funded the building of a station at Chandlers Ford and the SRA subsidised a Totton-Chandlers Ford-Romsey train service, SWT caused outrage by charging disproportionately high fares to the new station. SWT then announced that it had amended the fares. Almost three years after the Totton-Romsey service started, a passenger reported in the Southern Daily Echo of 21 February that single fares from the Totton ticket machine were £3.15 to Eastleigh, £4.15 if you continue to Chandlers Ford and £3.00 if you go all the way to Romsey. Different fares were apparently available from the booking office (but as the station has generally been unstaffed since the station manager’s retirement, that seems academic).
On Thursday 2 March, the 06.07 Totton-Yeovil was once more axed between Totton and Southampton Central. On this occasion the 05.45 Poole-Waterloo made a compensatory stop at Totton and still got to London on time. Passengers for the 06.21 Southampton-Portsmouth faced a long delay as this connection was not held.
On Monday 6 March, the 06.07 Totton-Yeovil was again axed between Totton and Southampton Central. Passengers arrived at Totton to find the 10 coaches of thin air, which used to be the 05.34 Bournemouth-Waterloo, standing in the station. This left without them at 06.06 and the information screens immediate changed to show that the next departure would be the 06.46 to London. As has normally been the case over the past month since the manager retired, the station was unstaffed, so no help was on hand. Passengers were about to call the emergency help line when two taxis arrived to take them into Southampton Central, where one passenger was admonished for have nothing smaller than a £10 note for the £3 fare to Southampton Airport (the ticket machine at Totton was unable to give change). After the discomfort of being squashed in the taxis, London passengers discovered that they would have two minutes longer to wait for their train because it was making an extra stop at Totton to pick them up! With this extra stop, Stagecoach’s statistic-cheating schedules meant that the train was only about 4 minutes early into Waterloo.
On Friday 24 March, the 06.07 Totton-Yeovil was advertised as on time until 06.00, when the screen at Totton switched to show it as cancelled, with no departure until the 06.46 to London. The station was by now invariably unstaffed (it should be staffed from 05.45), so a passenger pressed the Helpline button. There was no reply and the Helpline bleeped for 8 minutes until it cut out. It’s even worse luck for any passengers waiting at Redbridge when the Helpline is out of use, because they have no CIS screens either. At 06.02 the screens at Totton changed again to show that the 05.45 from Poole would call at 06.21. Then the stock for the 06.07 (which would have carried thin air on its inward journey from Salisbury depot) went off towards Southampton again carrying thin air and on the wrong line. The 06.21 eventually departed at 06.34 (13 minutes late), due to signalling problems west of Brockenhurst. It departed Southampton Central at 06.39 sharp (9 minutes late), having cut 4 minutes off the standard timing of 9 minutes allowed between leaving Totton and leaving Southampton. This illustrates how easily a much-desired Totton stop can be inserted in this train’s schedule if a customer-focused operator takes over the franchise.
On Friday 31 March, the 05.00 Poole-Waterloo was delayed by engineering works. Early rising passengers who had been unable to catch it at Totton were approaching Southampton on the 06.07 Totton-Yeovil when it passed them. Staff at Southampton Central managed to get the service away just as passengers off the 06.07 rushed over the footbridge to catch it. A manager confirmed that it was to call at Southampton Airport and Waterloo only – Stagecoach once again showing itself content to take taxpayers’ money to carry thin air while passengers are left behind for operational convenience.
On Wednesday 5 April, the 06.07 from Totton was again axed. On this occasion it was obviously too much bother to make alternative arrangements to avoid huge delays for early commuters. The information screen showed the 06.07 as running until 06.23, when the connecting London train raced through the station, and the 06.07 departure was removed, with nothing shown before the 06.46. Another huge delay thanks to Stagecoach’s indifference / incompetence.
In issue 15 of SWT’s e’motion magazine, there is a friendly invitation: “We would like to know how South West Trains has improved its service to you in the last 10 years. Tell us, in no more than 50 words, by contributing to our online poll at ---“. Since SWT has claimed in the past to cater for 162,000,000 passenger journeys a year, why does it need to advertise for good news stories? Are passengers somewhat disinclined to send them? And, if so, is it because the service is so often expensive rubbish?
JUST WHY DID THE EVENING PEAK SERVICE COLLAPSE ON 10 MARCH?
On 10th March, a lightning bolt caused a power surge which brought Waterloo services to a standstill for half an hour at the start of the evening peak. At 17.00 many platforms at Waterloo were without trains. The guard of the 16.35 to Weymouth blamed “Mother Nature”, but wasn’t Stagecoach’s shortage of train crews, which so often leads to service cancellations, also a factor? At 16.55 trains were moving at Waterloo. It was at this time that a diminutive five-coach Wessex Electric service, presumably the 16.05 to Poole in normal formation, departed.
The 16.35 to Weymouth was by then heaving with passengers but the guard made repeated announcements that there was still no chance of the train departing. Other trains arrived or left. At 17.20 a Wessex Electric service arrived, and at 17.23 the 16.35 departed, running a full 66 minutes late by Southampton Central where, naturally, it was too much bother to make special arrangements for passengers who had lost their connection with the 17.56 stopping service to Bournemouth.
Wasn’t it the case that most of this delay was due to the lack of standby or on-call train crews?
STAGECOACH TO PROFIT FROM LOW STANDARDS
Fifteen months after Stagecoach decelerated the SWT timetable, leaving passengers with by far the slowest services since the steam era, the moving annual average of their mainline performance figures has crept just above the threshold at which a 5% discount is given on season tickets. So Stagecoach is starting to make a substantial profit from its lowered standards.
One of the acid tests of whether a train operator is customer-focused is how much effort it puts into ensuring that passengers catch their trains wherever possible, so that they don’t incur unnecessary delay. With trains disappearing from information screens one minute before departure and doors slammed shut 30 seconds early, even when passengers are running to board, it might have been thought that SWT couldn’t do much more on this front to disbenefit its passengers. However, a guard tells us that drivers get frustrated with the slow timetable and sometimes depart ahead of time.
The 17.05 Waterloo-Weymouth often reaches Winchester 4-5 minutes before its departure time; one guard even made an announcement during the ensuing delay to explain that nothing was wrong.
On 15 March the 15.38 Guildford-Waterloo was reported by National Rail to have departed just two minutes late; it then omitted the first three scheduled stops and left Effingham Junction 2 minutes early. On 17 March the 06.07 Totton-Yeovil cleared Totton platform by 06.07, and on 19 March the 08.01 Windsor-Waterloo was reported by National Rail as having left Queenstown Road 3 minutes early at 08.54; this was a Sunday morning when trains were generally shown as expected to arrive at Waterloo 5-8 minutes early, showing just how slack the scheduling has become, ironically in order to misrepresent SWT as a ‘right time’ railway.
A good example of the more normal contempt for passengers was noted at Southampton Central on 24 March. Several young women hurried through the barriers and raced across the platform to board the 18.25 to Poole. As it was 18.24.30, the trains’ doors were just shutting in their faces. They were only one coach away from the guard’s coach, and could easily have boarded through the manual door if invited. However, the train was moving along the platform by 18.24.49, costing them a 30-minute delay. It’s time for a customer-focused operator to take over.
On Sunday 26 March, the 12.55 Wessex Trains’ service from Southampton Central to Bristol was waved off by the SWT train dispatch officer at about 12.54.30. The guard closed the doors at 12.54.45. A very elderly lady who was then trying to board was bellowed at by the train dispatch officer to stand clear, but it appeared that she may have had hearing difficulties. It was evidently much too much trouble for him to hurry a few yards along the platform and speak to her. The train departed on time to the second, leaving her standing on the platform. A clear case of “Don’t care, Won’t care”? The doors of the 13.03 from Southampton Central to Brockenhurst closed at 13.02.27 and the train departed at 13.02.47.
A few random examples of what is actually happening on SWT over a single weekend (based on data from the National Rail website, saved by our Group):
Saturday 25 March:
16.39 Brockenhurst-Waterloo left Totton 2 minutes early. 20.33 Basingstoke-Waterloo left Farnborough 2 minutes early.
As trains get closer to Waterloo it seems that the timetable is binned for operational convenience –
13.37 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 2 minutes early from Queenstown Road. 13.51 Guildford-Waterloo 3 minutes early from Clapham Junction and Vauxhall. 14.03 Basingstoke-Waterloo 2 minutes early from Clapham Junction. 14.15 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 2 minutes early from Queenstown Road. 15.33 Weybridge-Waterloo 2 minutes early from Queenstown Road. 15.33 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 2 minutes early from both Clapham Junction and Vauxhall. 15.51 Guildford-Waterloo 2 minutes early from Clapham Junction. 16.33 Weybridge-Waterloo 2 minutes early from Queenstown Road. 16.33 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 2 minutes early from Vauxhall.
Interestingly, the National Rail Timetable (Table 155) gives no departure times for Waterloo trains from Surbiton station to Vauxhall station inclusive, as if the trains call at these stations to set down only. Table 19 of the SWT booklet does give departure times which are in some cases the same as the arrival times in Table 155, but in other cases one minute later. Extraordinary that Surbiton residents can spend £12 on a National Timetable and not be able to get the exact departure times of all their London trains.
Sunday 26 March:
07.54 / 08.54 / 12.54 Reading-Waterloo 2 minutes early from Feltham. 09.01 Windsor-Waterloo 2 minutes early from Feltham.
13.09 Shepperton-Waterloo 2 minutes early from Vauxhall. 13.35 Hampton Court-Waterloo 2 minutes early from Clapham Junction and 3 minutes early from Vauxhall. 19.05 Hampton Court-Waterloo 3 minutes early from Clapham Junction and 2 minutes early from Vauxhall.
Absurd recovery margins:
During engineering works in the Portsmouth, Brockenhurst-Bournemouth and Basingstoke-Salisbury areas on Saturday 25 March, trains were retimed with incredible recovery margins for the approximately 7-minute run from Clapham Junction to Waterloo: Southampton line trains were allowed 13 minutes; Portsmouth line trains 15 minutes; and Salisbury line trains 20 minutes! Trains to the Salisbury line were expected at Southampton Central 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. Presumably SWT’s overall performance improves every time services are disrupted by Network Rail’s engineers.
Also on this date, the 13.24 Basingstoke-Waterloo departed just 11 minutes late, had its West Byfleet and Clapham Junction stops axed for operational convenience, and yet reached Waterloo 26 minutes late.
Whilst trains were leaving early from some stations, a few were cancelled on the 25/26 March due to train crew shortages (see performance reports).
STATION SAFETY MEASURES TO BE SET FOR SWT
This Group has consistently drawn attention to the myth of secure stations – station gates on SWT are generally staffed during daytime when there is most revenue to protect, and left open and unstaffed in late evening when passengers are most likely to be vulnerable to attack. The Evening Standard of 27 February confirms that 23.00 to midnight is the worst time for muggings on the railways. It is quite incredible, even offensive, that SWT has won “secure station” awards for its current arrangements. One station where passengers feel insecure at night is Hampton Court (see Hogrider 106), which has only recently been awarded secure station status.
Tragically, it took the murder of a passenger on Kensal Green station to highlight the general issue, which clearly goes far beyond SWT. However, the cosy aura created by SWT’s self-praise to mark the tenth anniversary of operation by Stagecoach was effectively blown apart. The Commons Transport Committee and Public Accounts Committee have been severely critical of the railways’ neglect of safety issues. The Evening Standard has started a campaign for safer stations, 55 MPs have joined the campaign, another 25 are also calling for safer stations, and the Secretary of State has taken a strong line. Transport for London says that private operators must pay their fair share. Ken Livingstone said he thought it “obscene” that rail companies making hundreds of millions of profit a year have not been prepared to take action despite their vast government subsidies. He will introduce compulsory staffing when he takes over responsibility for the services currently operated by Silverlink. A letter in the Evening Standard of 21 February, from the Clapham Transport Users’ Group, suggests that the mayor should take over control of all London stations, noting that the SWT and Southern franchises are due for renewal shortly.
The Standard reports that Stagecoach Chief Executive Brian Souter receives pay of £840,000, that the company made a profit of £136.8 million last year, and that South West Trains has received a subsidy of £499 million since privatisation. Twenty seven SWT stations in the London area alone are totally or partly unstaffed. By way of comparison, South Eastern Trains is currently in the public sector and its Chief Executive, effectively the Secretary of State for Transport Alistair Darling, receives £133,997. All but one of the seven rail bosses who have consistently rejected passengers’ calls for all London stations to be manned at night live far from the capital and probably don’t use unstaffed stations much. SWT’s Managing Director lives in Tonbridge.
By 17 February, the Evening Standard’s campaign had scored a hit when Chiltern announced that all its stations would be staffed during operating hours. Chiltern’s managing director said, “I think that as a railway service provider, we have a responsibility to our passengers. We want to respond to that concern responsibly and prudently. That is why we have decided to put security guards on the stations at night”. The Secretary of State plans to have every railway company contractually bound to pay for extra railway police. South West Trains will have specifications on security and extra staff as well as CCTV.
By 6 March the Standard was reporting that National Express would be partners in arrangements for tighter security on Silverlink stations until the Mayor takes over. By 7 March Eurostar was promising to make St Pancras Britain’s safest station, and by 8 March the Standard was praising First Group for promising to step up security on First Capital Connect (ex-Thameslink) when it takes over in April. By 16 March National Express had agreed to proceed with the introduction of more security staff on Silverlink’s North London line.
Over to Stagecoach for its plans to look after passengers better on SWT…
Comments on SWT stations from members of the public:
“Although I live near North Sheen station, I take the bus home at night because I don’t feel safe at this station. A couple of cameras near the platform won’t do much to ward off an attack if you are cornered as you exit down a dark, concealed alleyway.”
“North Sheen is covered in graffiti and is set back from the road via a bridge and a long narrow pathway. If travelling towards Waterloo I am usually the only person using the station at night. Passengers would be totally vulnerable to any attack. The station is regularly vandalized and is obviously a magnet for troublemakers.”
“Isleworth station is neglected and so too are the passengers. It’s unsafe. I regularly see kids hanging around outside with their hoods up, making deals to sell crack and heroin. They own the station – not the operators.”
“Isleworth is never manned. There is never anyone here and that worries me. The only port of call in an emergency is the information button, which is useless if you don’t have enough time to raise the alarm. I wouldn’t dream of standing on the platform alone at night. It’s about time the rail companies gave something back to passengers.”
“There are one or two gangs who operate near Isleworth station. It’s frightening but it’s become a way of life for many people. You just have to keep your wits about you and make sure you take every sensible precaution. It’s no way to travel but what choice do you have? I am more terrified of walking through the tunnel to the other side of the station. It’s poorly lit and young thugs tend to use it as a hang-out. It’s like running the gauntlet but what can you do?”
“A 28-year-old engineer who uses Isleworth, said, “The bottom line is, the companies in charge of train stations have a duty to protect passengers. But they are so busy lining their pockets that they think little of the consequences. It’s the fat-cat mentality – thoughtless and arrogant. As far as I am concerned they are making enough money to have these stations manned 24 hours a day. And that should be the case. They shouldn’t have to be provoked into action by the senseless murder of an innocent man or a campaign by those who use the service. It should come as a matter of course.””
"Byfleet & New Haw on the Waterloo to Guildford line is unmanned after 1pm. It is one of the most unwelcoming stations on the line. It is dirty and when it is raining water pours down the walls. No lavatory, no waiting room, it stinks of urine.”
“I had to use Barnes station on two occasions last November, after 9pm. On both occasions the station was deserted of staff and fellow passengers. It is made to feel more remote as it is surrounded by Barnes Common, a dark, creepy area which has had its share of assaults.”
“Apart from a few hours in the day when the ticket office is open, Mortlake station is unmanned. Apart from the obvious dangers, they must lose a lot of money. I understand from our local paper that gangs of ‘away-day thieves’ arrive from out of town at Richmond and Mortlake, close to expensive houses, spend the day thieving and make a quick getaway from the station. Why do we make it so easy for these ghastly people?”
“These stations are easy targets. There are signs which tell you to keep your valuables with you but what good are they when you have been selected as the gang’s next victim. I get off at Queenstown Road and there’s never anyone there. It’s scary. There should be regular patrols by trained staff employed by the operators to minimize the risk passengers face every day.”
(Based on various editions of the Evening Standard during February-March 2006)
BOURNEMOUTH AND POOLE GAIN NASTY STATION REPUTE
The Bournemouth Echo reports that a member of staff at Bournemouth station has blown the whistle on sex and drugs use at the premises. The man, who did not want to be named, said people frequently score drugs like cocaine and heroin, or have sex, in the toilet cubicles on both sides of the station, and that this went on from 09.00 to as late as 19.00. Even young girls and boys are involved. Some days they have been caught three or four times. One time, both of the toilets were full of people using drugs and it was absolutely disgusting. He added that the gates are open to the station, so anyone is able to go in there and the public toilets are unlocked until 20.00. He said he had experience of London stations but had never seen anything like this.
Perhaps SWT will soon add Bournemouth station to their glittering array of awards, along with London area stations like Isleworth and Hampton Court, and local stations in the Southampton area (see Hogrider No 106). And wasn’t Fratton station, in Portsmouth, found to be a centre of drugs trading not so long ago? It all seems to be part of the same pattern of insecurity.
We have since heard from a Parkstone correspondent that Poole station has the same problems as Bournemouth, and that toilets on both stations are now closed for most of the day. Clearly a customer-focused train operator is needed.
Early morning commuters have for more than two months found Totton station unstaffed. We heard from one SWT official that, after the manager chose to take early retirement, no one wanted the job. The reason given was that Stagecoach wouldn’t pay to staff the station on Saturday mornings, meaning that anyone who transferred to Totton would suffer a cut in wages. Another member of staff tells us that Totton is usually one of the first stations to suffer when there are staff shortages. We understand that for a time there was a temporary manager who had to travel from Portsmouth and that the chances of the station being staffed earlier than about an hour after the appointed time of 05.45 were ‘nil’. We now hear that there may at last be a permanent manager and we wait with baited breath to see whether the booking office will ever open on time again. On April 13, the station was found unstaffed, with the ticket and permit to travel machines both out of use.
Another tendril of the SWT grapevine claims that the one-time award-winning station at Sway is to be left unstaffed during the day, with just an early morning revenue protection presence, possibly by an official spending a couple of hours at both Sway and Lymington. Subsequently reported that Sway station Manager Ian Faletto is to transfer to Lymington Town because he wants to be associated with the “Heritage” (decrepitude?) operation.
These cuts follow the hugely inconvenient later opening of the downside ticket office at Southampton Central, which yet another member of staff stated to be due to the December 2004 timetable cuts depriving a clerk of a service to work.
Meanwhile, ‘Rail’ magazine reports that Stagecoach is to hire older trains for services like Totton-Romsey. The current class 170 units will go to Trans Pennine Express in return for class 158 sets (the type generally used on the Portsmouth-Cardiff service). This will presumably reduce hire costs for Stagecoach while First’s passengers get the more modern stock. Ironic that Stagecoach objected to transfer of Waterloo-Exeter services to Wessex Trains on the grounds that the services could then see use of the latter company’s less-reliable rolling stock (for example, class 158 units).
The customer information screens at Millbrook station came into use in mid-February, the first time for months. This was presumably because we had highlighted their failure in the Southern Daily Echo. They remained operative for about a week and have since been working intermittently, sometimes able to display times for one direction only. It remains a pity that the screen for the Totton direction is on the Romsey side of the supporting post, and the screen for the Romsey direction on the Totton side. Why these screens can’t be at 90 degrees to the platform edges, as on every other station, is anyone’s guess. Redbridge station continues to lack screens.
On Thursday 16 February, a particularly sharp spike was protruding beneath the cushion of a seat in the second coach of the 05.45 Poole-Waterloo.
On Friday 17 February, passengers in the ninth coach of the 17.05 Waterloo-Poole had to fight a duff internal sliding door with brute force to avoid entrapment. One passenger noted that he had been delayed 10 minutes at Southampton Airport station earlier in the week whilst staff hammered shut a duff external door. He wasn’t impressed when the guard explained that the same thing had happened the day before. Another passenger wondered whether the duff door was the one which he had been unable to open on the previous evening.
The Journeycheck facility on SWT’s website is less likely to show delays and cancellations when they are the operator’s fault. For example, on 22 February the cancellation of the 09.37 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo wasn’t shown, but the delay to the 09.57 Brighton-Reading, due to a passenger being taken ill at Chichester, was shown, and with updates.
Wouldn’t it be nice if certain members of staff at Southampton Central used the word “PLEASE” when bellowing at passengers not to board trains?
On Thursday 16 March, yet another seat collapsed beneath a passenger on the 05.45 Poole-Waterloo.
Hundreds of thousands of SWT passengers could have their fares cut after re-franchising. The Government is to enforce acceptance of Oyster cards, which Stagecoach has been resisting despite its massive profits. (Evening Standard 22/3/2006)
COMMUNITY RAIL LINES NEED THE RIGHT OPERATOR
Note the difference in treatment of some secondary lines proposed for community rail status:
National Express has introduced direct Liverpool Street-Lowestoft trains every two hours.
First Group plans to introduce a regular two-hourly service from December 2006. Nearly all trains will run to and from Cardiff. These trains will also have excellent connections at Castle Cary for passengers between South Wales and the West of England.
Stagecoach has retained ancient Mark I rolling stock, which has broken down on occasions, whilst claiming to be the first operator in the South East to get rid of slam-door stock (otherwise known as Mark I). Connections with mainline services at Brockenhurst are hit and miss.
PASSENGER FOCUS MEETING ON FARES
Thanks to Passenger Focus (The former Rail Passengers Council) for the invitation to be represented at their Westminster meeting on 12 April. This note attempts to reflect the proceedings accurately, and apologies should there be any discrepancy.
An interactive voting session at the beginning found that 50% of delegates thought fares too high, 41% thought them about right, and 9% thought them too low. 29% thought rail gave value for money, 9% thought it didn’t, and 62% thought it sometimes did.
Keynote speech (Adam Raphael, Associate Editor of Transport times)
Lack of capacity but Network Rail deep in debt and Treasury sees railways as a black hole. Investment record pitiful. Why are countries like Spain, with smaller GDP, rushing ahead? Serious and dangerous overcrowding; BR used to dampen demand with fare increases. Network Rail’s John Armitt says people will still be standing ten years from now. Financial crunch coming. Cut services or increase fares? Rail accounts for 6% of passenger miles but 40% of DfT spending.
Costs of individual routes kept secret. Subsidy varies hugely by line. On the Inverness-Kyle of Lochalsh route it would be cheaper to give every passenger a bottle of vintage champagne and chauffeur driven car. One third of stations account for 1% of rail passengers. Britain has second largest network in Europe but 10% of passengers in Japan and 50% of passengers in France and Germany.
Own view is that railways should concentrate on what they do best: Inter City and commuter routes. Two thirds of subsidies go to the little used regional network. Local authorities should pay for little-used lines that they want to keep.
Delegates raised points about the apparent advantages of devolution, the price of oil currently making road transport attractive, and Stagecoach and a local bus operator having tried unsuccessfully to grab traffic from the Mansfield-Worksop line.
Fares research (Andy Firman, Research Director, Outlook)
Commuter mindset focuses on things like avoiding traffic jams and city centre parking. Bus is seen as cheaper but slower.
Price and value for money are separate issues. Railcard holders usually more flexible in their needs and more accepting of fares. Commuters and people with low incomes felt penalized, The system stops people from getting best value for money; overwhelming choice of tickets, meaningless ticket names, and inconsistencies between individual operators.
Consumers usually see choice as good but, in the case of rail, they are fearful of not getting the best deal. Case for more limited range of tickets with consumers presenting more details of their needs, including degree of flexibility.
Most simple option would be first and second class / peak and off-peak ticket range, but this would be too simple.
People have little awareness of fare regulation, Saver tickets or the Network Railcard (this was a qualitative national survey), but there was interest in the idea of a national railcard which was seen as socially inclusive.
Ways of managing peak demand could include lobbying employers for flexible working hours, and having off-peak rates in early morning when trains less busy.
Recommendations: For commuters promote season tickets and more flexible peak periods; for all users, introduce a national railcard and ‘best fare’ concept; and for non-users introduce special deals to promote rail travel.
Passenger Focus perspective (Anthony Smith, Chief Executive)
Research is at early stage; qualitative phase to be followed by quantitative phase. Passenger Focus considers that many fares do give value for money. Turn-up-and-go must prevail. The balance between fare-payers and taxpayers must be about right.
The industry should promote flexible travel. Younger and less-well-off passengers resent the season ticket structure. Cannot afford seasons whereas better-off commuters benefit from them. There needs to be a balance between choice and complexity.
People like to talk to a person, not a ticket machine. They sense that the person sitting alongside them is getting a better deal. The Saver is very popular – people often don’t want to book ahead. Form of regulation might change.
Too much commercial confidentiality in the past. Pressure on prices from the premiums the operators will pay. Voice of non-user needs to be heard. Passenger Focus has responsibility to everyone, whatever their income. Time thresholds create a cliff-edge for cheaper tickets.
Points raised in question and answer session
Fare machines need to be user-friendly, as intermediaries between public and railways.
Network Railcard is a good product but renewal notices no longer sent out and leaflets often not available.
National Railcard would be a national club. Disincentive for occasional users. Should consider giving points like store club cards.
London-Manchester has bus frequency, so why airline fares? - Virgin Book Ahead tickets seen as good for matching demand to capacity. Help social inclusion. Domestic air journeys have built up to 10 million journeys a year over a short period.
Stewart Palmer, Managing Director, South West Trains
SWT has seen a 20% growth in journeys in 3 years. Satisfaction has increased from 64% to 84%. [NB: Allowing for the 20% growth in passengers, that seems to be very broadly 26 million dissatisfied customers a year (over 70,000 per day) instead of 46 million]
SWT has an interest in maximizing revenue and people will pay for their product. No fundamental difference of interest between company and passengers. Only 1% of revenue is from book ahead tickets.
Fanciful to think we can build out of capacity problems. Consumer is king. Regulation not best way of giving optimum value and getting funds to drive growth.
Jamie Burles, Commercial Director, Midland Main Line
MML is trying to get more leisure passengers. July 7 hit business hard as 85% of business is London-oriented. Pro-rata, they had more types of fare than any other operator. Simplified fare range introduced from 25 September 2005. Reduced prices across the board. £6 one-way fares to London with all normal discounts available, for example, with railcards and for children; previously, the minimum return was £20. The change led to 30% increase in advance purchases with 90% of customers not previously users. Targeting postcodes with lower-income groups. Complaints about ticket complexity down 47%. MML wants to be easiest company to do business with.
Philip Cullum, Deputy Chief Executive, National Consumer Council
Rise of consumer power. People walk away from excessive choice. It can become a time-consuming impediment. Many company leaders don’t understand what it’s like to be a customer People far more conscious of losses than of gains, and have loss aversion.
Points from delegates
Stagecoach’s Megatrain fares OK for Portsmouth but what about Havant? (Stewart Palmer said Megatrain very small. Helps to counter perception of dear travel. Level of usage increasing.)
50% of non-users think train fares too dear and services late. People need to spread the word about how good it can be.
Old chestnut about long-distance commuters getting travel too cheap! [Social reality is that London and South East drives the economy; housing prices in London are out of reach of many of the workers the city needs; long-distance commuters tend to be junior or middle managers, whilst affluent people live in the best areas of the Home Counties.]
Important that social railway reaches deprived areas. Megatrain doesn’t. (Stewart Palmer said it’s a question of what society is prepared to pay; not responsibility of the train operators)
Passenger Focus considers that the railway is a public service; needs to serve society.
Open access: Hull trains fills 80% of seats, and 50% of sales are through non-station outlets. Getting close to Ryanair load factors. Targeted approach needed: in Wrexham, propensity to travel by train is 0.44 per 1,000.
50-70 year olds very keen on travel deals. National structure for good deals needed.
62% of delegates favoured higher fares for investment if taxpayers not prepared to pay. 86% thought any increases in fares should be incremental. 87% confused by ticket types.
The event was highlighted in the Evening Standard of the same day, with the emphasis on the “burden of choice” from having such a bewildering range of fares. Twenty fares for the London-Penzance journey were quoted, ranging from £303.00 for a first open return to £34 for an Apex single.
SWT RE-FRANCHISING WITH POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS ON ROMSEY-EASTLEIGH
The Department for Transport is ordering 68 additional blue Desiro coaches to strengthen services from Waterloo to Reading, Alton and Basingstoke (though ‘Modern Railways’, March 2006 edition, suggests that 24 of these are needed because the Desiro trains are performing so badly). Interestingly, the DfT website refers to this additional rolling stock as being run by SWT initially and then by the “new operator” of the South Western franchise from February 2007.
The shortlisted bidders for the SWT franchise are GNER/MTR, Arriva, First Group and Stagecoach. National Express has followed Govia in withdrawing its bid. In both cases the companies have said they want to concentrate on their existing franchises. Both National Express’ ONE and Govia’s Integrated Kent Franchise are expected to switch from receipt of subsidy to payment of substantial premia in the medium term. One interesting development is press speculation that First Group and National Express might merge, making them by far the biggest surface transport operator in Britain.
Network Rail has announced that it wants:
(within 3 years) some passenger trains lengthened to 8 coaches; 6 new 4-car trains; an hourly Waterloo-Exeter service; improved interchange with other forms of transport; increased car parking at some stations (priority for Egham, Esher, Fleet, Guildford, Southampton Airport, Weybridge and Winchfield): upgraded Southampton-Reading route for larger freight containers;
(within 8 years) start on a £1 billion redevelopment scheme at Waterloo with Eurostar platforms converted for domestic use; platforms lengthened at suburban stations; and commuter trains lengthened from 8 to 10 coaches;
(longer term) more trains lengthened to 12 coaches; and track and signalling renewals at Waterloo, Clapham and Reading to speed up journeys.
The strategy for the Chandlers Ford line is now a Romsey-Eastleigh-Southampton-Romsey-Salisbury service from December 2007. Our Group proposed a Romsey-Romsey circular service in our response to the re-franchising and route utilisation strategy consultations. It is good that this concept is going forward with the enhancement of the Romsey-Salisbury extension. The Salisbury service also compensates for withdrawal of Bristol-Southampton stopping trains under the new December 2006 Greater Western timetable (First will provide a Westbury-Southampton shuttle service on an interim basis from December 2006 to December 2007). Congratulations to MPs Sandra Gidley, Chris Huhne, John Denham and Chris Grayling, along with some councils, on speaking out in favour of an attractive service. The “network effect” also merits mention. The changes will give 3 trains an hour from Southampton to Romsey (one via Eastleigh and two direct), and 2 an hour from Southampton to Salisbury. This will be about the best ever service over these routes. Totton will suffer some inconvenience from loss of its current Romsey trains, but residents will be able to get direct Romsey/Salisbury trains at Redbridge. We also hope to get a much better service pattern of mainline trains from Totton.
The plan for the 3 trains an hour on the Waterloo-Bournemouth main line has been revised to one service going to Poole, and 2 to Weymouth (in line with our Group’s suggestion that the slowest train should run to Poole rather than Bournemouth).
Platform use at Portsmouth Harbour station is to be changed to facilitate smoother running of services, and there is to be a revised Southampton-Brighton line service, with regular Southampton-Brighton trains promised.
FIRST GROUP ISSUES
Thanks to First Group for consulting us on their draft Monday-Friday Great Western timetable for December 2006. The highlight of the new timetable is a rewrite of cross-Bristol services on a more regular pattern. The hourly service between Portsmouth and Cardiff will be much as now, except that it is proposed that most of these trains will extend to and from Barry and Rhoose Cardiff International Airport. The service will be half-hourly between Cardiff Central and Westbury, with alternate Cardiff-Westbury trains extending to Weymouth, giving the Weymouth branch a two-hourly service throughout the day. The Weymouth services will also connect at Castle Cary with Paddington trains for passengers between South Wales and the South West. The Weston-super-Mare route will be principally served by trains on the Taunton-Cheltenham/Worcester axis.
The Cardiff-Brighton services will remain, but the Portsmouth-Penzance train will be withdrawn, along with virtually all the existing local services between Bristol/Swindon and Southampton. However, Network Rail’s proposed Romsey-Eastleigh-Southampton-Salisbury service in the new SWT franchise, in conjunction with the Great Western services, will provide the best ever frequency on the Southampton-Romsey-Salisbury line.
Our Group’s organiser is grateful to First for the opportunity of free first class travel to Plymouth on 3 April for the launch of the new Great Western franchise (now incorporating Wessex Trains as well as Thames Trains). The journey was somewhat difficult owing to Network Rail’s ill-timed closure of the Westbury-Taunton line for five days, which was not announced by SWT at Southampton. However, it was a good day out and great hospitality, and the return journey gave cause for encouragement when the 17.00 from Plymouth waited 4 minutes at Newton Abbot for a service from Paignton, and passengers were given good time to cross the footbridge without being shouted at to hurry. Things like that make you realise just how unpleasant Stagecoach operations can be; let’s hope there’s light at the end of the tunnel for SWT passengers.
It is now clear that First intends to make a good number of changes to their draft December 2006 timetable to meet passengers’ needs. If only it hadn’t been too much trouble for Stagecoach to hold a full consultation exercise before introducing their dreadful December 2004 timetable!
First’s initial consultative forum on their SWT franchise bid, held in Southampton on 13 March, was very constructive and friendly. Three members of SHRUG attended and we are grateful to First for the invitation. Clearly First are keen on good scheduling, joined up travel, and properly maintained stations, all areas where Stagecoach has failed its passengers. The company’s representatives were strikingly straightforward and never dismissive – it seemed like a breath of fresh air after all the mealy-mouthed word twisting of SWT’s e’motion magazine.
DIARY OF A TOTTON-WATERLOO COMMUTER – 6
1/2/06 06.30 from Southampton Central was 6 minutes late at Waterloo with the guard reporting "unfortunately no information about the slow running we had after passing Woking". 1705 from Waterloo was 10 minutes late by Southampton Central due to "earlier train failure at Clapham Junction" - passengers on this train had not enjoyed the over-loud announcement by the buffet steward as we approached Southampton Parkway.
2/2/06 05.48 from Totton did not depart until 06.04. The arrival announcement for the 06.30 from Southampton Central was drowned out by the sound of a goods train passing through platform 4 – the 06.30 was actually running 10 minutes late due to "signalling problems at Bournemouth" and was 14 minutes late at Waterloo.
3/2/06 Departure indicators at Millbrook not working. 06.30 from Southampton experienced slow running at Clapham Junction due to "cautionary signals". To celebrate the fact, a seat collapsed underneath a passenger! After Clapham Junction we were "held at danger signal awaiting platform allocation at Waterloo" and again were 14 minutes late at Waterloo. On the 17.35 from Waterloo, 3 passengers asked others whether they were in the right carriage for the train split at Southampton Central. The rear five coaches were overtaken by a following service at the Millbrook signals and were 4 minutes late at Totton.
When I visited Reading on Tuesday, I noticed the passengers’ charter performance figures charts displayed prominently on the station concourse, triggering a thought that I didn't know where they are displayed at Southampton Central - beyond a vague recollection of having seen some displayed on platform 2/3 in the past. Getting back to Southampton Central, I had 20 minutes to kill awaiting a Totton train, so I thought I would ask the station staff where the SWT performance information was displayed. Out of 3 staff asked, not one gave me the correct location of the chart on the station. A member of the platform staff told me it was "in the manager's office on platform 1". Staff in the manager's office on platform 1 told me it was "on the outside wall" by the upside station entrance - where I found performance figures for Southern, Wessex, Arriva, First Great Western and Virgin, but not SWT. Finally, a ticket inspector on platform 4 said he didn't know were the information was displayed - "It's not round here" - but at least helpfully directed me to ask at a ticket office. I eventually found the poster myself, tucked into the corner where people exit from the platform 1 ticket office windows, where season ticket holders hardly ever pass (and never pass at all, if they take up SWT's yearly invitation to renew their ticket by post).
06/2/06 Totton station litter-strewn this morning, waiting room locked and ticket office closed - Mike's retirement having an impact already and making Totton seem much more like Ashurst! A passenger tried to get to the ticket office to buy a weekly season ticket only to find the door locked - he tried to use the ticket machine on the platform (with difficulty due to some badly worn/damaged buttons) but that resulted in the not entirely helpful message "Refer to Ticket Office". The permit to travel machine was unlit and looked out of use but another passenger advised him that it was working, so he eventually ended up with a 10p permit and said he would try to get his ticket on the journey. Departure indicators faulty at Millbrook. At least two cancellations this morning - the 05.57 from New Milton (stopper to Brockenhurst) and the 06.14 from Brockenhurst. Delays to following services variously described as due to failed train at Brockenhurst (Radio Solent), Pokesdown (Southampton departure indicators), Parkstone (guard on the 06.30 from Southampton). Platform 1 cafe at Southampton Central closed just when people needed it! 06.30 from Southampton Central did not arrive at Southampton until 06.58, after the front five carriages of the 07.00 departure. However the latter train was delayed at Southampton awaiting its rear five coaches which were running 13 minutes late (the advised impact on the departure time was just 7 minutes, implying 6 minutes slack exists here in the timetable), so the 06.30 train departed first at 07.00 with passengers who got on at Southampton Airport Parkway having to stand all the way to London. Arrived 33 minutes late at Waterloo.
07/2/06 Millbrook departure indicators not working. Platform 1 cafe at Southampton Central lit but locked.
08/2/06 18.35 from Waterloo yesterday reportedly failed at Woking due to a loose wheel, passengers chucked off to await the 19.05 from Waterloo. Departure indicators not working at Totton, Millbrook, Southampton Central, St Denys, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Winchester, Woking, West Byfleet and Raynes Park. Departure indicator not fitted (but the support for it is in place) at Redbridge. Cafe closures for the previous 2 days at Southampton Central apparently due to staff shortages arising from illness. On the 06.30 from Southampton Central, the guard made repeated long announcements ("likes the sound of his own voice" commented a commuter) and kept a continuous speech going as he checked tickets. 18.35 from Waterloo delayed due to "emergency engineering works in the London area" (actually at Clapham Junction); 7 minutes late at Totton. The 19.05 from Waterloo was shown at Totton as running 14 minutes late.
09/2/06 Platform 1 Cafe Ritazza unit closed at Southampton Central. I'm starting to wonder how I will get my void days refund which is due from last year's season ticket - the retirement of the ever-helpful Mike in the Totton ticket office was so unexpected and unannounced that the temporary staff in the ticket office were assumed to be covering staff sickness. Since I found out that Mike had in fact retired, the Totton ticket office has been permanently locked and whenever I have tried to get to the Southampton Central ticket office to make enquiries, the queue has been too long to wait before the 06.30 departure for Waterloo leaves. 06.30 from Southampton Central 4 minutes late at Waterloo. 17.05 from Waterloo had severe difficulty in splitting at Southampton, making the rear half 4 minutes late - I spent some time advising other passengers what was happening to allay their concerns.
10/2/06 As the 17.05 from Waterloo left on time the guard announced that due to an "incident at New Malden earlier this afternoon" all services out of London Waterloo would be delayed by 20 minutes. However, just 5 minutes late at Southampton Central.
13/2/06 Departure indicators at Millbrook not working.
14/2/06 07.01 to Weymouth from Southampton Central was running 10 minutes late - a platform announcement was made about a revised stopping pattern.
15/2/06-17/2/06 Did not travel.
20/2/06 Totton ticket office remains closed after staff retirement. 06.26 from Southampton Central to Weymouth cancelled due to crew shortages. 06.21 from Southampton Central to Portsmouth & Southsea cancelled due to emergency engineering works at Cosham, 06.45 to Cardiff shown as "delayed" presumably for the same reason. 06.55 from Winchester to Waterloo cancelled. A fellow passenger reported that one of the trains used on an hourly service from Waterloo to Bournemouth during weekend engineering work was a 4-carriage Blue Desiro which was very overcrowded and uncomfortably hot.
21/2/06 Millbrook departure indicators are working again, after only 3 months of continuing failure but so soon after being highlighted in the Southampton Daily Echo! They are still somewhat anti-intuitive as the indicator for Totton-bound services is towards the Southampton end of the platform and the indicator for Southampton-bound services is towards the Totton end of the platform - perhaps the indicators were installed in the wrong position as indicators at other stations are all overhanging the platforms instead of being parallel to them. No sign of departure indicators at Redbridge however and SWT apparently claim that only Kempton Park is missing them (because it was only open on race days).
22/2/06 Totton ticket office still closed. Fortunately, due to an absence of people queuing at Southampton Central, I just managed to get the void days refunded from my old season ticket there before the 06.30 departure pulled into the station. By coincidence, the ticket office clerk serving me was the one who was in the Totton ticket office in the few days immediately after Mike's retirement. She was surprised to hear that the ticket office had been closed every day (as far as we know) since then. Another commuter reported an aggressive ticket check at Winchester last night - the ticket inspector called her back (including placing his arm on her shoulder) saying that he "did not see your ticket" and that he was "within my rights to remove this ticket" - apparently more than one complaint has been received about this inspector's behaviour already. On the 17.35 from Waterloo, one passenger had to ask another "Is this the first five do you know?" after the split at Southampton was announced. Guard apologised at Southampton for the "separation of the two trains taking longer than normal".
23/2/06 Noted that the display screen inside the locked Totton ticket office (just visible from the car park through the glass above the door) was still switched on even though the ticket office has been locked shut for weeks now.
24/2/06 Overheard a woman talking on her mobile phone at Southampton Central on the 18.35 from Waterloo telling someone she was on the wrong half of the train and would be getting to Bournemouth late.
27/2/06 Millbrook departure indicators not working. 06.30 from Southampton Central was 4 minutes late at Waterloo due to "congestion". The 17.05 from Waterloo was delayed at Winchester due to a "window smashed in one of the front coaches"; 8 minutes late at Winchester, 5 minutes late at Southampton Central, 3 minutes late at Totton - so no slack in the timetable then?
28/2/06 Millbrook departure indicators not working. At Southampton Central, it is not possible to buy a season ticket for the premium car park outside the platform 4 exit - by far the best location for disabled passengers or for women who don't want the long dark walk to the normal car park. On the 18.05 from Waterloo, passengers for Ashurst were advised to change at Totton - very poor advice as compared with Southampton; Totton is cold, exposed and lonely. [Ed note: The 18.05 called at Ashurst prior to Stagecoach’s December 2004 cuts]
1/3/06 Millbrook departure indicators not working. Southampton Central car park prices have been repeatedly increased "for our benefit" to ensure that we always have spaces available. Following warnings of enforcement action to check tickets for the premium car park, a very large number of places are now available – can we look forward to prices coming back down then? On the 18.35 from Waterloo there was an inaudible guard's announcement at Waterloo.
2/3/06 06.07 from Totton cancelled. The 06.21 Totton stop for the 06.30 Southampton Central departure, which happens every Saturday, was added to compensate. On the 17.35 from Waterloo a couple travelling to Bournemouth were in the wrong half of the train at Southampton. After being advised by another passenger, they ran for the front half of the train and just caught it.
3/3/06 Millbrook departure indicators not working. 06.30 from Southampton Central was 3 minutes late due to "emergency engineering works in the Brockenhurst area". 17.35 from Waterloo was 8 minutes late at Winchester due to being "held up by a late running Virgin train as per normal". As we pulled into Southampton Central, the Totton stopper connection pulled out from the next platform. At 18.59 the guard announced we would depart at 18.55. Left Southampton 9 minutes late.
Totton ticket office was open some days this week but generally after 06.00 instead of the advertised 05.45 opening time.
6/3/06 06.07 from Totton was not at the station, no information given. just missing from the departure indicator which was showing the 06.46 as the next departure. The ticket office was closed and the ticket machine showed "Exact change only", leaving one passenger unable to buy her return ticket to Southampton Parkway with a £10 note for her £3.40 fare. Empty Wessex Electric stock pulled up at Totton and stood at the platform but did not open its doors, apparently only going to sidings at Southampton Central. A taxi then turned up at Totton with the driver calling out "taxi to Southampton Central". As it was leaving, another people-mover taxi turned up to take the other waiting passengers. At Southampton Central the 06.07 from Totton was shown as "on time" - the stock for the service was standing at platform 3 obviously starting at Southampton today. The lady who could not buy her ticket at Totton due to the failed ticket facilities joined a long ticket office queue at Southampton Central, getting onto the platform after the train had left at 06.17. Surprise on the 06.30 from Southampton Central when we were told that it had stopped additionally at Totton - the guard said of Totton "I thought it was quiet". In announcements he apologised for the 2 minutes delay due to "earlier train disruption in the Totton area". A seat collapsed under a passenger during the journey. The 20.05 from Waterloo was met at Totton at 21.30 by a group of about 10 people spread around the platforms and calling across to each other - with an associated large dog, possibly a rottweiler.
7/3/06 Millbrook departure indicators not working. When the 17.05 from Waterloo arrived at Totton, 6 youngsters were standing on the seat on platform 1.
8/3/06 Millbrook departure indicators working again! 10.30 from Southampton Central was formed of 5 carriages with passengers standing from Winchester. 20.05 from Waterloo started from Basingstoke “due to an earlier train failure" so we were put on the 20.09 Portsmouth train and told to change at Basingstoke. On our arrival at Basingstoke, a member of the train crew told passengers to go to platform 2 and a number of people had started to move towards the stairs when a platform announcement told everyone to wait on the same platform. A further announcement said that the 20.50 was running 15 minutes late due to an "earlier fault on this train which has now been rectified". Left Basingstoke 18 minutes late, 22 minutes late at Southampton Parkway.
9/3/06 Only 8 trains were on the Waterloo departure indicators at 17.00 due to a lightning strike at Vauxhall. The 17.05 did not leave until 17.40 and was 1 hour late by Winchester. At Southampton Central, when the guard asked staff "please ensure you are in the correct half of the train", a passenger answered back "but how do we know?" and "there's nothing to tell us".
10/3/06 Couple on the 17.35 from Waterloo were having an argument over whether they were in the correct half of the train!
13/3/06 to 17/3/06 Did not travel.
20/3/06 Ticket office closed at Totton. 17.05 from Waterloo 5 minutes late at Totton, having waited for an extended period at Southampton Central without explanation.
21/3/06 Ticket office closed at Totton. A fellow passenger spoke of trying to catch a train from Redbridge on Sunday afternoon - no train and no information (as departure boards have not been installed). 06.07 from Totton left a few minutes late "due to late arrival at Totton" - so late because of lateness.
22/3/06 Totton ticket office open with temporary staff at 07.30 today. New signage seen on Basingstoke station. 07.46 from Totton arrived at Waterloo 8 minutes late - and I was shortly afterwards evacuated from Waterloo due to a security alert.
24/3/06 06.30 from Southampton Central was reported delayed to 06.35, but only after 06.30 had been reached. Then it was shown as delayed again to 06.38, just as the station announcement apologising for the “5 minute delay” was being made. The delay was reported to be due to "a fault on the train at Ashurst" but on the train the guard reported "unplanned brake application at Totton". 8 minutes late at Waterloo. 17.05 from Waterloo was 8-car Blue Desiro - no armrest, ludicrous placement of latch for the seat back table making laptop use extremely precarious. Guard apologised for the "slight change" in rolling stock - due to "scheduled stock breaking down".
25/3/06 The steps from Station Road South to platform 2 at Totton are looking particularly grubby with lots of litter - reminiscent of the condition of Ashurst station. The stock for the 06.07 from Totton to Yeovil went down the line to Totton Yard and then went back up the line without picking up passengers. 06.30 from Southampton Central was shown as stopping additionally at Totton at 06.21 but actually left 13 minutes late. The delay was reported to be due to "signalling problems in the Brockenhurst and Redbridge areas with an additional stop for this service at Totton" but there was no delay at Redbridge and we left Southampton Central only 9 minutes late (saving 4 minutes from the departure from Totton). Subsequent delays were reported to be due to "crossing over to the slow line at Basingstoke" and "emergency speed restriction at Wimbledon". Arrived at Waterloo 16 minutes late. At Waterloo at 18.10, the 18.15 Portsmouth Harbour arrival and the 1830 Portsmouth Harbour departure were shown as cancelled. However the new "Service Summary" screens were showing the service on the Portsmouth line as "Good". Despite information desk staff requesting the status to be updated (in my hearing), the service was resolutely shown as "Good" until the cancellation of the 18.30 disappeared from the screens at its scheduled departure time. If the cancellation of two trains is regarded by SWT as a good service - I wonder what a poor service will look like? So much for providing information to passengers during service disruption! 18.35 from Waterloo 5 minutes late at Totton (no announcement why). Two young girls were standing on the seat on platform 1 at Totton shouting across at passengers who had arrived at platform 2.
27/3/06 One indicator blank at Millbrook.
28/3/06 One indicator showing a fault at Millbrook. 17.05 from Waterloo stopped unexpectedly outside Clapham Junction, but the guard just continued checking tickets - so much for informing passengers of the reason of a delay after two minutes. He finally got around to telling us that train ahead at Clapham Junction had a defect. We were running approximately 10 minutes late at Winchester.
29/3/06 At 06.20, staff at Southampton Central were too busy chatting to colleagues to staff the platform 4 ticket gate properly.
30/3/06 Another passenger advised that the clocks on the new Desiro trains were still on GMT! 06.30 from Southampton Central ran slowly through Basingstoke and Woking, arriving 6 minutes late. On the 17.05 from Waterloo the guard apologised for the "heavy loading" due to a failed freight train between Winchester and Basingstoke causing "delays and cancellations" - all repeated again in the same announcement. Passengers aboard the 17.05 who had wanted the 17.09 from Waterloo to Portsmouth were advised to change at Winchester.
31/3/06 One departure indicator at Millbrook is showing a fault again. The 05.48 from Totton was shown as cancelled, but we subsequently found out at Southampton Central that it was actually running fast having been delayed due to overrunning engineering works and had simply omitted the Totton stop. But the 06.07 from Totton would have taken passengers into Southampton Central to connect with the fast service, wouldn't it? Oh no it wouldn't! The fast-running 05.48 overtook the 06.07 on the approach to Southampton and, as the Totton passengers stepped onto platform 3 from Southampton, the London train was sent off from platform 1! The Southampton Station Manager explained that the train hadn't been held for the very few minutes at Southampton to make the connection as it needed to travel fast to avoid causing a blockage to following trains - essentially, it would all run so much smoother without those pesky passengers. She also tried to blame Network Rail for the omission of the scheduled stops, which was entirely a SWT decision! The 06.30 from Southampton was 7 minutes late at Waterloo due to "congestion in the Clapham Junction area" (27 minutes late compared with arrival on the 05.48 from Totton). On the 17.05 from Waterloo a lady seemed to be very distressed and was shouting in the carriage at Southampton. When the guard was informed he said he would "get the police on at Brockenhurst" - perhaps not the most sympathetic response.
3/4/06 to 7/4/06 Did not travel.
10/4/06 Now aiming to travel on the 05.48 from Totton, which was 2 minutes early at Winchester, Basingstoke and Waterloo. Noticed that the printing on my season ticket is fading badly after only a third of its period has passed. 17.05 from Waterloo delayed by "fatality in the Hersham area"; left 15 minutes late, but 20 minutes late at Totton.
11/4/06 On the 17.05 from Waterloo, just before Southampton the guard made an incorrect announcement that the first 5 carriages would stop at Brockenhurst after the train divides - confusing at least 2 nearby passengers, who had to leave the train to check with station staff at Southampton. Then a family of six moved into the carriage and sat down before checking with other passengers that they were in the right carriage for Bournemouth and being told that they should be in the front 5. After waiting some time for the first carriage door to be released to let them get off the train, they had the pleasure of seeing the front half of the train leave the platform without them - all this occurring in full view of a SWT station staff member who made no attempt to hold the train for them and just stood there with an amused smile on his face!
12/4/06 07.41 arrival at Southampton from Basingstoke was cancelled due to a "failed train at Shawford". 07.51 to Portsmouth Harbour was also cancelled. 21.05 from Waterloo was delayed outside Eastleigh with no explanation given.
13/4/06 This morning Totton station was unstaffed, the self-service ticket machine said "not in service" and the permit to travel machine said "not in use". On the 06.07 from Totton, the quiet zone, described as "this peaceful area" on window stickers, is immediately above a rather noisy diesel motor. 17.05 from Waterloo stood at Winchester for a while before the buffet steward came over the tannoy to ask "can the guard release the rear 5 doors?". Delayed also outside Eastleigh due to "slow trains in front of us". 12 minutes late at Totton where the 18.34 arrival from Romsey was shown as running 11 minutes late.
RAIL PERFORMANCE REPORTS
Note: These details are snapshots, based on passengers' own experiences and website information. The Group does not have the resources to provide a full picture of the performance shortcomings which passengers suffer. We are able to provide fuller coverage on some days than on others. Please note that trains can become increasingly late during the course of their journeys, or make up time where stops are omitted and passengers thrown off, so the "minutes late" figures may not represent the position at the end of a journey.
Wednesday 1/2/06 06.47 Staines-Weybridge reduced to 4 coaches. 07.02 Woking-Waterloo reduced to 8 coaches. 07.33 Weybridge-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 11.01 Poole-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 12.00 Waterloo-Poole 20 minutes late. 15.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 5 minutes late leaving Southampton Central; so slack are SWT schedules that Network Rail’s live running site showed the service as expected 5 minutes early at Waterloo. 17.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth 18 minutes late due to duff stock. 17.24 Basingstoke-Waterloo expected at Waterloo 7 minutes early. 19.52 Waterloo-Weybridge axed between Waterloo and Staines due to duff stock. 21.33 Weybridge-Waterloo axed due to duff stock.
Thursday 2/2/06 05.00 Poole-Waterloo 16 minutes late at Southampton Central so all further intermediate stops except Winchester axed for operational convenience. The following 05.45 from Poole was 10 minutes late, so London commuters waiting at Southampton Airport Parkway for the 05.00 were stranded in the cold for over 40 minutes. In addition the 05.00 had many empty seats but the 05.45 became very overcrowded and was 14 minutes late by Waterloo. Who cares? Obviously not Stagecoach. 15.45 Portsmouth-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 15.56 Havant-Waterloo axed between Havant and Guildford. Delayed 16.11 Shepperton-Waterloo ran fast from Kingston to Waterloo for operational convenience. 16.50 Waterloo-Yeovil reduced to 3 coaches, so the 17.05 Waterloo-Weymouth had to call additionally at Basingstoke to compensate with many of its usual commuters standing. 19.09 Waterloo-Portsmouth 32 minutes late.
Friday 3/2/06 05.00 Poole-Waterloo 6 minutes late by Southampton. 05.45 Poole-Waterloo 14 minutes late. 06.54 Basingstoke-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 06.50 Southampton Airport-Waterloo 7 minutes late. Passengers on the 07.33 Weybridge-Waterloo thrown off at Virginia Water due to duff stock. 07.38 Waterloo-Southampton 24 minutes late. 07.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth 24 minutes late. 08.39 Waterloo-Southampton axed between Waterloo and Basingstoke. 15.54 Waterloo-Dorking 17 minutes late; all intermediate stops before Raynes Park axed for operational convenience. 16.07 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. Part of the17.05 Waterloo-Poole had no heating on this freezing cold evening; guard struggle with the defective intercom and the disabled toilet alarm appeared to be duff since the alarm was activated twice during the train’s passage through Surrey.
Saturday 4/2/06 Even slower timetable than usual, due to engineering work. 07.57 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 17 minutes late; all intermediate stops before Norbiton axed for operational convenience. 13.24 Basingstoke-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. A good example of statistical manipulation: 20.05 Twickenham-Waterloo allowed 17 minutes from Clapham Junction to Waterloo and expected to arrive 9 minutes early. 22.03 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo axed due to no driver.
Sunday 5/2/06 Another day of even slower than usual schedules; for example the 15.45 Hounslow-Waterloo was allowed 11 minutes from Vauxhall to Waterloo and expected to arrive 7 minutes early. 08.46 Honiton-Waterloo 32 minutes late. 09.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth 17 minutes late. 11.48 Waterloo-Shepperton 16 minutes late due to duff stock. 18.50 Guildford-Waterloo 28 minutes late.
Monday 6/2/06 Line blocked by a duff train at Pokesdown (if you believed the customer information screens) or Parkstone (if you believed the repeated tannoy announcements). 05.26 Poole-Brockenhurst axed. The 05.45 Poole-Waterloo was about 30 minutes late. Scores of frustrated commuters were standing along the length of the platform at Southampton Central; with all the sensitivity for which Stagecoach is famed, the tannoy announced that doors are closed 30 seconds before departure to ensure punctual departure and passengers should make sure they are on the platform in time. Mysteriously, given the excuse of line blockage, the following 06.04 Bournemouth-Waterloo arrived at Southampton first, but then had to wait about 15 minutes for the attachment of the late running 06.11 from Poole. The 05.45 from Poole therefore overtook it. 15.52 Bristol-Salisbury 17 minutes late. 16.05 Waterloo-Reading axed. 17.42 Reading-Waterloo axed due to duff stock.
Tuesday 7/2/06 Passengers on the 07.42 Reading-Waterloo thrown off at Bracknell due to duff stock. 16.18 Portsmouth-Waterloo axed. At around 19.20 it was announced at Winchester that the 18.35 Waterloo-Weymouth/Poole was running about 10 minutes late. This was supplemented by a local announcement explaining that the service had failed at Woking and would be at least 30 minutes late. Passengers who took the Virgin Trains’ service as far as Southampton, arrived to find that both the Weymouth and Poole portions of the 18.35 had been cancelled. It was later noted on SWT’s website that the Southampton-Poole portion had been reinstated, but there was nothing about the train otherwise having been cancelled or about the two hour gap in the Waterloo-Weymouth service. Presumably that wasn’t considered important enough to merit mention, although some passengers who had actually been on the train were told that the problem was a loose wheel, which does seem rather important. 19.05 Waterloo-Poole 12 minutes late. Passengers on the 21.20 Waterloo-Yeovil thrown off at Salisbury due to no guard.
Wednesday 8/2/06 Many of SWT’s customer information screens inoperative in the morning peak. 11.53 Windsor-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 12.23 Ascot-Guildford axed between Ascot and Aldershot due to duff stock. Emergency afternoon track repairs in the Vauxhall area. 12.10 Exeter-Waterloo axed between Basingstoke and Waterloo. 14.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 15.24 Waterloo-Dorking axed. 16.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 16.20 Waterloo-Exeter axed between Waterloo and Basingstoke. 16.35 Dorking-Waterloo axed. 17.09 Waterloo-Effingham Junction axed. 17.09 Waterloo-Portsmouth 15 minutes late. 17.44 Alton-Waterloo axed between Woking and Waterloo. 18.02 Waterloo-Woking axed. 18.18 Waterloo-Haslemere axed. 18.32 Waterloo-Basingstoke axed. 19.05 Waterloo-Poole 18 minutes late. 19.12 Waterloo-Eastleigh axed between Waterloo and Woking. 20.05 Waterloo-Poole 16 minutes late.
Thursday 9/2/06 Big delays in the morning peak due to an overrun of engineering works. No SWT Dorking services before 08.30. 15.54 Waterloo-Dorking axed due to duff stock. 17.05 Waterloo-Weymouth/Poole 6 minutes late from Southampton due to uncoupling problems. 17.16 and 17.46 Waterloo-Chessington reduced to 4 coaches. 18.57 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 22.01 Guildford-Ascot axed due to no guard. 23.23 Ascot-Aldershot axed due to no guard.
Friday 10/2/06 Morning delays on the Lymington branch due to yet another failure of its ancient slam door stock. 08.02 Dorking-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. Big afternoon delays due to someone being injured in the New Malden area. 15.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed between Waterloo and Woking. 16.20 Waterloo-Exeter 37 minutes late. 16.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 16 minutes late. 17.05 Waterloo-Weymouth 5 minutes late. 17.43 and 18.13 Waterloo-Shepperton reduced to 4 coaches. 17.45 Portsmouth-Waterloo axed between Portsmouth Harbour and Portsmouth & Southsea. 17.58 Guildford-Waterloo 15 minutes late; all intermediate stops after Epsom axed for operational convenience.
Saturday 11/2/06 06.54 Hampton Court-Waterloo axed. 08.00 Weymouth-Waterloo failed at Upwey, its first call; passengers stranded for an hour. Services between Brockenhurst and Lymington axed between 10.30 and 12.30 due to no crew. 16.03 Woking-Waterloo 18 minutes late. 16.25 Waterloo-Woking 15 minutes late. 19.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 21.41 Shepperton-Waterloo axed. 21.40 Brighton-Salisbury axed between Brighton and Worthing. 22.12 Reading-Waterloo axed due to duff stock.
Sunday 12/2/06 22.46 Barnham-Portsmouth axed due to no driver. Passengers on the 23.18 Basingstoke-Exeter thrown off at Salisbury due to no driver.
Monday 13/2/06 18.48 Waterloo-Guildford reduced to 4 coaches. 20.53 Windsor-Waterloo 10 minutes late. Passengers on the 21.20 Waterloo-Yeovil thrown off at Salisbury due to no driver.
Tuesday 14/2/06 Valentine’s Day massacre: overrun of engineering work, so SWT axed stops for operational convenience. 05.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 21 minutes late; Totton and all intermediate stops between Brockenhurst and Bournemouth axed for operational convenience. 05.45 Poole-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 06.42 Waterloo-Portsmouth 30 minutes late; all intermediate stops before Farnborough axed for operational convenience. 06.44 Alton-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 06.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth omitted all intermediate stops before Haslemere for operational convenience. 06.50 Southampton Airport-Waterloo 5 minutes late. 07.33 Waterloo-Guildford 15 minutes late; all intermediate stops before Surbiton axed for operational convenience. 07.50 Waterloo-Salisbury axed between Waterloo and Basingstoke. 07.50 Waterloo-Guildford axed. 08.17 Waterloo-Woking reduced to 4 coaches. 15.41 Alton-Waterloo 22 minutes late.
Wednesday 15/2/06 06.44 Portsmouth-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 06.53 Ascot-Guildford axed due to duff stock. 06.55 Portsmouth-Waterloo reduced to 5 coaches. 07.00 Aldershot-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 07.02 Dorking-Waterloo axed between Dorking and Ashstead due to duff stock. 07.24 Basingstoke-Waterloo reduced to 8 coaches. 08.01 Guildford-Ascot axed between Guildford and Aldershot. 19.06 Shepperton-Waterloo 18 minutes late. 20.14 Alton-Waterloo 19 minutes late. 21.14 Alton-Waterloo axed.
Thursday 16/2/06 After all those early departures, the stock for the 06.07 Totton-Yeovil didn’t arrive from Totton sidings until 06.07. 08.37 Guildford-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 13.12 Waterloo-Shepperton 18 minutes late due to no crew. 13.42 Waterloo-Shepperton axed between Waterloo and Raynes Park due to no rolling stock. 18.50 Waterloo-Salisbury axed.
Friday 17/2/06 06.44 Alton-Waterloo 7 minutes late. Passengers on the 07.23 Waterloo-Alton thrown off at Farnham due to duff stock. 07.36 Farnham-Waterloo axed due to no driver. 08.22 Epsom-Waterloo axed due to no driver. 09.12 Waterloo-Basingstoke axed due to no driver. 09.14 Alton-Waterloo axed between Alton and Farnham due to duff stock. 14.00 Romsey-Totton axed between Romsey and Eastleigh. 18.41 Waterloo-Basingstoke reduced to 4 coaches. 18.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth 42 minutes late. 19.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth 45 minutes late. 19.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo 52 minutes late. 19.24 Portsmouth-Waterloo 44 minutes late. 19.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth 24 minutes late. 19.45 Portsmouth-Waterloo 37 minutes late. 21.19 Portsmouth-Waterloo 19 minutes late. 21.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth 23 minutes late. 21.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed between Waterloo and Woking. 22.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth 23 minutes late. 22.23 Windsor-Waterloo 15 minutes late.
Saturday 18/2/06 Person hit by train in Portsmouth area. 06.19 Portsmouth-Waterloo axed. 06.36 Waterloo-Hampton-Court axed due to no driver. 06.45 and 07.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo delayed. 07.24 Hampton Court-Waterloo axed due to no driver. 07.45 Portsmouth-Waterloo axed between Portsmouth and Fratton and 20 minutes late. 08.24 Portsmouth-Waterloo 19 minutes late. 08.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed. 09.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed between Waterloo and Guildford. 10.39 Haslemere-Waterloo axed. 11.36 Waterloo-Hampton Court axed. 12.24 Hampton Court-Waterloo axed. 13.20 Waterloo-Woking axed due to no driver. 14.33 Woking-Waterloo axed due to no driver. Signalling problems at St Denys. 18.05 Waterloo-Bournemouth 48 minutes late. 18.35 Waterloo-Bournemouth 26 minutes late. 19.00 Romsey-Totton 41 minutes late. 19.42 Southampton-Fareham 32 minutes late. 20.12 Reading-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 20.16 Bournemouth-Waterloo 45 minutes late.
Sunday 19/2/06 Engineering work addressed by hugely inflated timings. For example the 18.51 and 19.51 from Bournemouth to Waterloo allowed 17 minutes from Clapham Junction, with National Rail’s live running schedules showing them as expected at Waterloo 10 minutes early.
Monday 20/2/06 05.16 Portsmouth-Southampton axed due to overrun of engineering works. 05.40 Basingstoke-Weymouth axed due to no crew; passengers had to wait for the 05.30 from Waterloo which was 20 minutes late. 05.45 Portsmouth-Waterloo axed. 06.21 Southampton-Portsmouth axed. 15.36 Portsmouth-Southampton 20 minutes late. 15.45 Portsmouth-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 15.51 Portsmouth-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 17.09 Waterloo-Portsmouth reduced to 4 coaches. 18.15 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo only 8 minutes late but all intermediate stops before Barnes axed for operational convenience. 18.52 Waterloo-Weybridge 21 minutes late.
Tuesday 21/2/06 SWT’s slowest services since steam can cause embarrassment; the 17.05 from Waterloo reached Winchester 5 minutes early and the guard announced that the long stand at the station was due to early running. 18.40 Chessington-Waterloo axed. 19.32 Waterloo-Surbiton axed due to duff stock.
Wednesday 22/2/06 05.00 Poole-Waterloo already 6 minutes late by Branksome. 09.37 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo axed. 09.57 Brighton-Reading 24 minutes late. Passengers on the 12.20 Waterloo-Plymouth thrown off at Exeter due to no guard. 14.03 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo axed. Passengers on the 14.47 Plymouth-Waterloo thrown off at Woking. 16.55 Waterloo-Alton reduced to 4 coaches due to stock shortage. Signalling problem in the London area: 17.01 Poole-Waterloo 23 minutes late. 17.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo 22 minutes late. 17.18 Portsmouth-Waterloo 20 minutes late. 17.45 Salisbury-Waterloo 19 minutes late. 17.45 Portsmouth-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 17.47 Plymouth-Waterloo axed between Plymouth and Exeter due to no guard. 17.58 Guildford-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 18.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed. 18.01 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 20 minutes late. 18.05 Dorking-Waterloo 21 minutes late. 18.09 Waterloo-Portsmouth 39 minutes late. 18.11 Shepperton-Waterloo 19 minutes late. 18.14 Alton-Waterloo 14 minutes late. 18.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches due to duff stock. 18.24 Portsmouth-Waterloo 20 minutes late. 18.33 Woking-Waterloo 20 minutes late. 18.35 Alton-Waterloo 37 minutes late. 18.35 Dorking-Waterloo 23 minutes late. 18.36 Shepperton-Waterloo 18 minutes late. 18.38 Guildford-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 18.40 Chessington-Waterloo 14 minutes late. 18.45 Portsmouth-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 18.54 Hampton Court-Waterloo 24 minutes late. 18.54 Basingstoke-Waterloo 29 minutes late. 18.59 Effingham Junction-Waterloo 37 minutes late. 19.01 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 32 minutes late. 19.02 Waterloo-Woking 14 minutes late. 19.05 Alton-Waterloo 11 minutes late. Passengers on the 19.06 Shepperton-Waterloo thrown off at Kingston. 19.08 Guildford-Waterloo 33 minutes late. 19.12 Waterloo-Eastleigh 13 minutes late. 19.15 Waterloo-Havant 15 minutes late. 19.16 Waterloo-Chessington axed between Waterloo and Raynes Park. Passengers on the 19.24 Basingstoke-Waterloo thrown off at Surbiton. 19.24 Hampton Court-Waterloo 37 minutes late. 19.27 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 23 minutes late. 19.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth 10 minutes late. 19.32 Waterloo-Surbiton axed as on the preceding day. 19.33 Dorking-Waterloo 30 minutes late. 19.33 Woking-Waterloo 36 minutes late. 19.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 25 minutes late. 19.38 Guildford-Waterloo 19 minutes late. 19.39 Waterloo-Southampton axed between Waterloo and Basingstoke. 19.39 Waterloo-Guildford axed. 19.40 Chessington-Waterloo 34 minutes late. 19.53 Waterloo-Alton 24 minutes late. 19.54 Basingstoke-Waterloo axed. 19.54 Hampton Court-Waterloo 27 minutes late. 19.57 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 32 minutes late. 20.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth 31 minutes late. 20.11 Shepperton-Waterloo 12 minutes late; all intermediate stops after Fulwell axed for operational convenience. 20.12 Waterloo-Basingstoke 33 minutes late. 20.12 Waterloo-Shepperton axed between Waterloo and Kingston. 20.15 Waterloo-Haslemere 23 minutes late. 20.20 Waterloo-Exeter axed between Waterloo and Woking. 20.23 Waterloo-Alton 20 minutes late. 20.27 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 27 minutes late; all intermediate stops after Twickenham axed for operational convenience. 20.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth 18 minutes late. 20.53 Waterloo-Alton axed between Waterloo and Woking. 21.03 Woking-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 21.10 Chessington-Waterloo 17 minutes late. 21.23 Waterloo-Alton axed between Waterloo and Woking. 21.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth 11 minutes late.
Thursday 23/2/06 08.41 Shepperton-Waterloo axed between Shepperton and Teddington due to duff train. 16.55 Waterloo-Alton reduced to 4 coaches. 17.01 Poole-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 17.39 Waterloo-Portsmouth reduced to 5 coaches due to duff stock. 18.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed. 19.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed between Waterloo and Woking due to duff stock. 19.42 Reading-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 20.42 Reading-Waterloo 23 minutes late. 20.45 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo axed due to duff stock.
Friday 24/2/06 07.15 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 18 minutes late; all intermediate stops (except Clapham Junction) after Hounslow axed for operational convenience. 15.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 15.41 Alton-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 18.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth reduced to 9 coaches due to duff stock. 19.53 Waterloo-Alton reduced to 4 coaches due to duff stock. 19.37 Weybridge-Waterloo axed.
Saturday 25/2/06 07.55 Southampton-Waterloo axed between Southampton and Eastleigh due to no rolling stock. 08.01 Poole-Waterloo 14 minutes late. 08.50 Waterloo-Reading and 09.42 Reading-Waterloo advertised as reduced to 6 coaches between Waterloo and Wokingham (diesel-operated as SWT’s electric trains are all of 4 or 5 coaches except on the Lymington branch?). 09.39 Waterloo-Guildford 22 minutes late due to duff stock; all intermediate stops before Epsom axed for operational convenience. 10.45 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 11.28 Waterloo-Windsor and 12.53 Windsor-Waterloo advertised as reduced to 6 coaches (diesel-operated as SWT’s electric trains are all of 4 or 5 coaches except on the Lymington branch?). 11.34 Fareham-Paignton axed between Fareham and Salisbury due to no driver. 11.42 Reading-Waterloo 28 minutes late; all intermediate stops (except Staines) after Virginia Water axed for operational convenience. 13.39 Waterloo-Southampton 15 minutes late due to no crew. 16.01 Totton-Romsey axed between Eastleigh and Romsey due to duff stock. 16.16 Waterloo-Chessington 14 minutes late due to no crew. 17.00 Romsey-Totton axed between Romsey and Eastleigh due to duff stock. 19.36 Waterloo-Hampton Court axed between Waterloo and Raynes Park due to duff stock.
Sunday 26/2/06 09.05 Bournemouth-Waterloo 15 minutes late; passengers thrown off at Eastleigh. 09.32 Portsmouth-Waterloo 14 minutes late. 13.54 Waterloo-Bournemouth 23 minutes late due to duff stock.
Monday 27/2/06 07.57 Waterloo-Strawberry Hill reduced to 4 coaches. 09.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo axed. 10.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed between Guildford and Portsmouth due to a fatality at Witley. Those slack schedules again: 11.05 Waterloo-Poole arrived at Basingstoke just over 4 minutes before it was due to depart. 12.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo axed due to no driver. 12.39 Haslemere-Waterloo axed due to fatality. 13.09 Waterloo-Guildford axed due to no crew. 13.20 Waterloo-Reading axed due to no driver. 13.24 Portsmouth-Waterloo 18 minutes late. 13.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth 25 minutes late. 14.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed. 14.05 Waterloo-Poole 14 minutes late. 15.20 Reading-Waterloo axed due to no driver. 16.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth reduced to 5 coaches. 16.35 Dorking-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 17.28 Waterloo-Windsor reduced to 4 coaches. 19.01 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 21 minutes late; all intermediate stops after Kingston axed for operational convenience.
Tuesday 28/2/06 08.10 Chessington-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 16.42 Southampton-Portsmouth 20 minutes late due to no crew. 17.23 Waterloo-Basingstoke reduced to 5 coaches. 19.03 Waterloo-Woking axed due to duff stock. 19.57 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 10 minutes late.
Wednesday 1/3/06 06.35 Salisbury-Totton axed due to no guard. 06.54 Weymouth-Waterloo 17 minutes late due to no crew. 08.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth 17 minutes late. 08.01 Totton-Romsey axed due to no guard. 08.05 Waterloo-Poole 10 minutes late. Passengers on the 12.23 Waterloo-Alton thrown off at Farnham. 14.14 Alton-Waterloo axed between Alton and Farnham. 18.01 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 18.33 Woking-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 19.20 Waterloo-Woking axed due to duff stock.
Thursday 2/3/06 06.07 Totton-Yeovil axed between Totton and Southampton; 05.45 Poole-Waterloo called additionally at Totton and reached Waterloo on time despite some slow running en route. 07.58 Waterloo-Windsor reduced to 4 coaches. 08.02 Woking-Waterloo axed. Dangerous spike protruding beneath seat cushion in the ninth coach of the 17.05 Waterloo-Poole. 18.38 Guildford-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 18.45 Salisbury-Waterloo 12 minutes late due to duff stock. 19.10 Paignton-Basingstoke axed between Paignton and Exeter due to no driver.
Friday 3/3/06 07.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 21 minutes late due to duff stock. 12.35 Paignton-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 14.00 Weymouth-Waterloo reduced to 5 coaches, axed between Weymouth and Bournemouth, and 10 minutes late due to duff stock. 16.50 Waterloo-Woking omitted all intermediate stops before Surbiton. 17.43 Waterloo-Shepperton reduced to 4 coaches. 17.48 Waterloo-Southampton reduced to 5 coaches due to duff stock. 17.50 Waterloo-Reading 26 minutes late due to duff stock; all intermediate stops before Staines omitted for operational convenience. 18.07 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 20 minutes late; Vauxhall, Queenstown Road, Wandsworth Town, and Putney stops axed in both directions for operational convenience; St Margarets and North Sheen stops also axed. 20.18 Portsmouth-Waterloo 12 minutes late.
Saturday 4/3/06 Passengers on the 00.30 Eastleigh-Portsmouth thrown off at Fareham. 06.30 Waterloo-Southampton 16 minutes late. 06.50 Waterloo-Reading 19 minutes late due to no rolling stock. 06.51 Guildford-Waterloo 19 minutes late due to delay on previous journey. 08.50 Waterloo-Reading 20 minutes late; all intermediate stops before Staines axed for operational convenience. 09.37 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 39 minutes late due to a duff train. 09.45 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 34 minutes late; all intermediate stops after Hounslow axed for operational convenience. 11.15 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo axed between Waterloo and Clapham Junction. 11.58 Waterloo-Windsor 20 minutes late due to duff stock; all intermediate stops before Staines omitted for operational convenience. 12.54 Hampton-Court-Wimbledon axed due to duff stock. Passengers on the 13.41 Shepperton-Waterloo thrown off at Sunbury due to duff stock. 17.58 Guildford-Waterloo axed due to no driver.
Sunday 5/3/06 Huge slack on some services; for example 06.45 Salisbury-Waterloo allowed 15 minutes from Clapham Junction to Waterloo and expected to terminate 8 minutes early. 07.11 Eastleigh-Waterloo 25 minutes late due to no crew. 08.07 Waterloo-Basingstoke 16 minutes late due to duff stock. 08.49 Woking-Alton 18 minutes late due to duff stock. 16.25 Southampton-Waterloo 17 minutes late. 16.52 Woking-Alton 11 minutes late. 17.42 Portsmouth-Southampton 18 minutes late.
Monday 6/3/06 06.07 Totton-Yeovil axed between Totton and Southampton Central, the first time this had happened for two working days. 08.10 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 08.20 Teddington-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 16.35 Dorking-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 16.50 Waterloo-Woking reduced to 4 coaches.
Tuesday 7/3/06 Passengers on the 06.40 Portsmouth-Waterloo thrown off at Fratton due to duff stock. 06.44 Portsmouth-Waterloo 20 minutes late; stops at Liss, Liphook and Godalming omitted for operational convenience. 06.55 Portsmouth-Waterloo 20 minutes late; stops at Witley, Milford, Godalming, Farncombe, Worplesdon, Woking and Clapham Junction omitted for operational convenience. 07.13 Portsmouth-Waterloo 13 minutes late; stops at Worplesdon and Woking omitted for operational convenience. 08.37 Guildford-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 08.41 Shepperton-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 09.02 Dorking-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 14.47 Plymouth-Waterloo 19 minutes late. 17.24 Waterloo-Dorking axed due to no driver. 18.35 Dorking-Waterloo axed due to no driver. 17.54 Poole-Waterloo 15 minutes late due to duff stock; stops at Southampton Airport, Winchester and Clapham Junction axed for operational convenience. 21.14 Alton-Waterloo axed between Alton and Farnham due to duff stock.
Wednesday 8/3/06 06.42 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed between Waterloo and Woking due to duff stock. 07.20 Yeovil-Waterloo axed between Yeovil and Salisbury due to no driver. 07.22 Epsom-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 07.50 Waterloo-Salisbury reduced to 3 coaches. 08.52 Bristol-Salisbury axed due to duff stock. 08.54 Hampton Court-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 13.03 Waterloo-Guildford axed due to no driver. 14.28 Guildford-Waterloo axed due to no driver. Passengers on the 17.47 Plymouth-Basingstoke to be thrown off at Salisbury, for a connecting bus departing at 21.25; this was notified at 13.31 as being due to no driver – quite extraordinary that Stagecoach is so short of train crews that it cannot arrange a replacement driver for an off-peak train when it has 8 hours’ notice. 18.54 Basingstoke-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 20.05 Waterloo-Poole axed between Waterloo and Basingstoke, and 18 minutes late, due to duff stock.
Thursday 9/3/06 Stock for 07.33 Waterloo-Guildford not expected to arrive until 07.58. 07.50 Waterloo-Guildford and 07.54 Waterloo-Dorking both advertised as delayed without any indication of when they might arrive. 08.03 Waterloo-Guildford axed. 10.08 Guildford-Waterloo axed. 15.14 Alton-Waterloo 15 minutes late; intermediate stations after Woking axed for operational convenience. 15.42 Waterloo-Basingstoke 30 minutes late. A twenty minute storm over London started at around 16.00; lightning bolt affected signalling at Vauxhall and service collapsed for remainder of the day. A few examples: 16.05 Waterloo-Poole 50 minutes late. 16.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 66 minutes late by Southampton. 17.05 Waterloo-Weymouth 50 minutes late. 17.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 40 minutes late. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole 47 minutes late. 18.09 Waterloo-Portsmouth 24 minutes late. 18.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo 32 minutes late. 18.24 Portsmouth-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 18.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 57 minutes late. 18.45 Portsmouth-Waterloo axed. 18.54 Poole-Waterloo 51 minutes late. 19.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 19.15 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 59 minutes late. 19.24 Portsmouth-Waterloo 49 minutes late. 19.33 Woking-Waterloo 24 minutes late. 19.37 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 42 minutes. 19.38 Guildford-Waterloo 27 minutes late. 20.01 Guildford-Ascot axed. 20.08 Guildford-Waterloo axed. 20.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo axed. 20.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed. 21.23 Ascot-Guildford axed. 22.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed.
Friday 10/3/06 06.40-Portsmouth-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 07.15 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 07.36 Farnham-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 07.40 Haslemere-Waterloo reduced to 5 coaches. 08.20 Waterloo-Woking axed. 10.57 Brighton-Basingstoke axed between Brighton and Worthing. 17.27 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 17.39 Waterloo-Effingham Junction reduced to 4 coaches.
Saturday 11/3/06 06.10 Petersfield-Waterloo 15 minutes late due to delay on previous journey. 08.05 Waterloo-Poole axed due to duff stock. 12.35 Waterloo-Weymouth axed between Waterloo and Woking. 22.52 Wimbledon-Hampton Court axed due to no driver. 23.24 Hampton Court-Wimbledon axed due to no driver. 23.54 Wimbledon-Hampton Court axed due to no driver.
Sunday 12/3/06 20.25 Southampton-Waterloo axed. 21.09 Waterloo-Windsor axed due to no driver. 22.29 Windsor-Waterloo axed due to no driver.
Monday 13/3/06 Emergency lighting on the 06.07 Totton-Yeovil. 05.45 Poole-Waterloo 55 minutes late due to duff signalling south of Winchester and duff train in the consequent queue of delayed services; huge number of passengers on the platform at Winchester – with the aisles of the 05.45 jammed packed with standing commuters in traditional Stagecoach fashion, the guard caused further irritation by announcing that passengers should keep the aisles clear to allow the buffet trolley to pass through the train. 05.45 Portsmouth-Waterloo 39 minutes late. 06.11 Poole-Waterloo 32 minutes late. 06.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 21 minutes late due to no rolling stock. 06.43 Cosham-Waterloo 31 minutes late. 06.44 Portsmouth-Waterloo axed. 06.45 Southampton-Waterloo 40 minutes late. 07.24 Basingstoke-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 07.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 27 minutes late. 07.38 Waterloo-Southampton 36 minutes late. 07.50 Brighton-Basingstoke axed between Brighton and Cosham due to engineering works. 08.05 Waterloo-Poole 51 minutes late. 08.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 30 minutes late. Stock for 08.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth not expected until 09.05. 09.57 Brighton-Reading axed between Brighton and Cosham due to engineering works. 10.10 Exeter-Waterloo axed. 11.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 9 minutes late. 12.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo 8 minutes late. 12.18 Portsmouth-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 14.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 7 minutes late due to a Virgin-Stagecoach service running 15 minutes late. 18.37 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. Passengers on the 20.55 Southampton-Waterloo thrown off at Basingstoke due to no driver; 21.30 Southampton-Waterloo called additionally at Basingstoke, Fleet and Farnborough to compensate.
Tuesday 14/3/06 05.41 Salisbury-Totton arrived at Southampton on time but advertised to depart 11 minutes late (due to train crew shortage?) 05.45 Poole-Waterloo 6 minutes late from Southampton due to priority being given to a track machine. 07.50 Brighton-Basingstoke axed between Brighton and Cosham. 07.52 Basingstoke-Waterloo axed due to no driver. Passengers on the 08.13 Portsmouth-Waterloo thrown off at Portsmouth & Southsea due to duff stock. 15.15 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed due to duff stock. 16.01 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 16.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth reduced to 4 coaches. 17.30 Waterloo-Epsom reduced to 4 coaches. 17.42 Waterloo-Shepperton reduced to 4 coaches. 18.35 Waterloo-Reading reduced to 4 coaches due to duff stock. 18.54 Waterloo-Dorking reduced to 4 coaches.
Wednesday, Ides of March 07.13 Portsmouth-Waterloo 23 minutes late. 07.25 Portsmouth-Waterloo 18 minutes late due to duff stock; all intermediate stops after Basingstoke axed for operational convenience. 08.03 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo operated only over the final lap from Earlsfield to Waterloo. 08.33 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 08.43 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 22 minutes late; all intermediate stops after Barnes axed for operational convenience. Passengers on the 09.57 Brighton-Reading thrown off at Basingstoke. 10.04 Reading-Brighton axed. 12.55 Reading-Brighton axed between Reading and Basingstoke. 15.38 Guildford-Waterloo started 2 minutes late; the stops at London Road, Clandon and Horsley were axed for operational convenience, leaving some passengers to face a delay of 30 minutes whilst the train departed from Effingham Junction 2 minutes early. 15.55 Southampton-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 17.01 Poole-Waterloo 8 minutes late. 17.11 Shepperton-Waterloo omitted Kempton Park stop; passengers then thrown off at Wimbledon. By mid-evening all mainline arrivals into Waterloo about 15-25 minutes late “due to passenger action”. 18.01 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 14 minutes late. 18.07 Weybridge-Waterloo 20 minutes late; all intermediate stops from Putney inclusive axed for operational convenience. 18.12 Waterloo-Shepperton axed. 18.16 Waterloo-Chessington 25 minutes late. 18.20 Waterloo-Reading axed between Waterloo and Staines. 18.20 Waterloo-Woking axed due to duff stock. 18.25 Waterloo-Alton 18 minutes late. 18.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth 20 minutes late. 18.31 Guildford-Ascot axed due to duff stock. 18.33 Woking-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 18.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 14 minutes late. 18.36 Shepperton-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 19.10 Chessington-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 18.40 Chessington-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 18.45 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo axed between Waterloo and Richmond. 18.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth 17 minutes late. 18.54 Hampton Court-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 18.57 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 19.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth 14 minutes late. 19.05 Waterloo-Poole 18 minutes late. 19.05 Waterloo-Reading axed. 19.06 Waterloo-Hampton Court 15 minutes late; all intermediate stops to New Malden inclusive axed for operational convenience. 19.10 Chessington-Waterloo omitted all intermediate stops from Wimbledon to Vauxhall inclusive. 19.12 Waterloo-Eastleigh 13 minutes late. 19.12 Shepperton-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 19.27 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 18 minutes late; stops at North Sheen, Mortlake, Barnes, Wandsworth Town and Queenstown Road axed for operational convenience. 19.33 Woking-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 19.37 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 19.40 Chessington-Waterloo 14 minutes late. Announced at 19.02 that the 19.46 Guildford-Waterloo would omit stops at London Road, Clandon and Horsley; train departed Guildford 11 minutes late. 19.50 Waterloo-Woking 13 minutes late. 19.53 Ascot-Guildford axed due to duff stock. 19.54 Basingstoke-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 20.06 Waterloo-Hampton Court omitted all intermediate stops to New Malden inclusive for operational convenience. 20.33 Waterloo-Guildford 20 minutes late; all intermediate stops to Wimbledon inclusive axed for operational convenience. 20.42 Reading-Waterloo axed.
Thursday 16/3/06 05.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 40 minutes late due to duff stock; all intermediate stops between Southampton and Bournemouth axed for operational convenience. 07.57 Waterloo-Strawberry Hill axed. 18.31 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo axed due to duff stock.
Friday 17/3/06 Fatality at West Byfleet which severely disrupted daytime services with knock-on effects into the evening peak. 07.50 Waterloo-Guildford axed due to duff stock. 14.01 Poole-Waterloo 35 minutes late. 14.45 Portsmouth-Waterloo 19 minutes late. 14.55 Southampton-Waterloo 19 minutes late. 16.05 Waterloo-Poole 35 minutes late and with inhuman overcrowding. 16.51 Portsmouth-Waterloo 18 minutes late. 16.55 Waterloo-Alton 7 minutes late. 17.05 Waterloo-Poole 5 minutes late. 17.37 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 17.54 Poole-Waterloo 19 minutes late. 18.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 18.45 Portsmouth-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 19.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 17 minutes late.19.01 Totton-Romsey axed due to duff stock. 19.15 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 27 minutes late. 19.37 Weybridge-Waterloo 23 minutes late; all intermediate stops after Feltham axed for operational convenience. 20.00 Romsey-Totton axed between Romsey and Southampton due to duff stock. 20.12 Waterloo-Shepperton axed due to no guard. 20.15 Waterloo-Haslemere 22 minutes late. 20.54 Basingstoke-Waterloo 16 minutes late due to duff stock; all intermediate stops after Woking axed for operational convenience. 21.00 Romsey-Totton axed due to duff stock. 21.11 Shepperton-Waterloo axed due to no guard. 22.01 Totton-Romsey axed due to duff stock. 23.00 Romsey-Southampton axed due to duff stock.
Saturday 18/3/06 06.36 Waterloo-Hampton Court axed between Waterloo and Wimbledon due to no guard. 13.50 Waterloo-Woking 31 minutes late. 14.05 Waterloo-Poole 10 minutes late. 14.10 Exeter-Waterloo 21 minutes late. Passengers on the 14.20 Waterloo-Penzance thrown off at Exeter due to no crew. 16.01 Poole-Waterloo 12 minutes late.
Sunday 19/3/06 Trains generally advertised as expected to arrive at Waterloo 5-8 minutes early, showing just how slack the timetable has become; even so, some services managed to be late.
Monday 20/3/06 05.16 Portsmouth-Southampton 7 minutes late. 07.45 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo omitted all intermediate stops before Barnes for operational convenience. Poole portion of the 17.05 Waterloo-Weymouth stood 13 minutes at Southampton Central; this appeared to be due to uncoupling problems, but too much bother to make any public announcements.
Tuesday 21/3/06 06.07 Totton-Yeovil started 4 minutes late. 20.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo 18 minutes late.
Wednesday 22/3/06 05.00 Poole-Waterloo left Bournemouth 34 minutes late due to overrun of engineering works; all intermediate stops except Southampton and Southampton Airport axed for operational convenience; departed from Southampton as passengers off the 06.07 from Totton were racing to catch it. 05.40 Basingstoke-Weymouth delayed 6 minutes between Winchester and Eastleigh. 06.07 Totton-Yeovil didn’t have even emergency lighting. 06.53 Windsor-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. Signalling problems at Waterloo caused huge disruption: Hampton Court trains advertised as axed between Surbiton and Waterloo and Shepperton trains as axed between Kingston and Waterloo. 06.40 Portsmouth-Waterloo 17 minutes late. 07.33 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 07.46 Effingham Junction-Waterloo 19 minutes late. 07.58 Guildford-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 08.02 Dorking-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 08.10 Chessington-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 08.20 Waterloo-Woking 22 minutes late. 08.20 Guildford-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 08.40 Chessington-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 08.50 Waterloo-Woking 24 minutes late. 08.53 Waterloo-Alton 16 minutes late. 08.57 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 24 minutes late. 09.09 Waterloo-Portsmouth 14 minutes late. 09.20 Waterloo-Woking 23 minutes late. 12.03 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo axed due to no crew. 12.05 Waterloo-Poole 15 minutes late due to duff stock. 14.05 Waterloo-Poole 6 minutes late. 14.55 Southampton-Waterloo reduced to a 4-car Desiro.
Thursday 23/3/06 05.45 Poole-Waterloo 10 minutes late due to faulty brake application in the Ashurst area; a number of following services into Waterloo were delayed around 5 minutes. 14.47 Plymouth-Waterloo axed between Plymouth and Newton Abbot. 18.09 Waterloo-Portsmouth reduced to 9 coaches. 18.10 Exeter-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 08.37 Guildford-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches due to duff train. 08.46 Guildford-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches due to duff train. 08.48 Effingham Junction-Waterloo axed due to duff train. 14.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 17.05 Waterloo-Weymouth reduced to 8 coaches of Desiro outer-suburban stock - with considerable discomfort and no buffet facilities – due to yet another train failure.
Friday 24/3/06 05.26 Poole-Brockenhurst 9 minutes late. 05.45 Poole-Waterloo 14 minutes late. 06.07 Totton-Yeovil axed. 06.11 Poole-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 20.42 Southampton-Portsmouth 20 minutes late.
Saturday 25/3/06 08.03 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 53 minutes late. 08.41 Shepperton-Waterloo 44 minutes late. 08.57 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 22 minutes late. 09.41 Shepperton-Waterloo axed. 10.37 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 30 minutes late. 10.42 Reading-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 10.57 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 17 minutes late. 11.33 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 45 minutes late. 12.20 Waterloo-Plymouth 22 minutes late. 13.23 Salisbury-Waterloo 14 minutes late. 13.24 Basingstoke-Waterloo 26 minutes late; stops at West Byfleet and Clapham Junction axed for operational convenience. 13.51 Salisbury-Bristol axed due to no driver. 14.45 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 15.52 Bristol-Salisbury axed due to no driver. Line between Farnham and Alton closed during the evening for emergency track repairs. 21.08 Guildford-Waterloo axed due to no guard. 21.33 Waterloo-Guildford axed due to no guard. 22.38 Guildford-Waterloo axed due to no guard. 23.03 Waterloo-Guildford axed due to no guard.
Sunday 26/3/06 09.05 Hampton Court-Waterloo axed due to delay on previous service. 14.55 Totton-Romsey axed due to no guard. 15.40 Romsey-Totton axed due to no guard. 15.17 Portsmouth-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 15.20 Exeter-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 17.50 Waterloo-Woking 39 minutes late.
Monday 27/3/06 07.29 Portsmouth-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 08.20 Waterloo-Woking axed between Waterloo and Surbiton due to a previous service being axed. 14.50 Waterloo-Salisbury axed due to no driver. 15.22 Waterloo-Weybridge 18 minutes late; all intermediate stops after Staines axed for operational convenience. 17.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth reduced to 8 coaches. Passengers on the Poole portion of the 17.05 from Waterloo thrown off at Bournemouth due to a trackside fire. 17.40 Exeter-Axminster axed due to no guard. 18.23 Axminster-Exeter axed due to no guard. 18.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth reduced to 9 coaches. 18.54 Poole-Waterloo axed between Poole and Bournemouth. Passengers on the 19.51 Portsmouth-Waterloo thrown off at Fareham due to duff stock.
Tuesday 28/3/06 15.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 15.54 Hampton Court-Waterloo omitted Raynes Park stop. 16.27 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo axed between Waterloo and Kingston. 17.05 Waterloo-Weymouth 13 minutes late due to duff train at Wimbledon; so slack is the timetable that it was only 7 minutes late from Southampton Central. 17.15 Waterloo-Fratton axed between Waterloo and Guildford due to duff stock. 18.12 Waterloo-Shepperton 17 minutes late. 18.16 Waterloo-Chessington 17 minutes late. 18.20 Waterloo-Exeter reduced to 6 coaches. 18.20 Waterloo-Woking 15 minutes late.
Wednesday 29/3/06 00.18 Waterloo-Kingston axed between Twickenham and Kingston. 00.42 Waterloo-Fulwell axed between Kingston and Fulwell. 07.24 Reading-Waterloo axed due to no guard. 07.58 Weymouth-Waterloo 10 minutes late. Duff train in Earlsfield area: 08.02 Dorking-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 08.03 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 08.11 Shepperton-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 08.20 Teddington-Waterloo 17 minutes late. 08.20 Guildford-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 08.22 Epsom-Waterloo 19 minutes late. 08.24 Hampton Court-Waterloo 14 minutes late. 08.31 Dorking-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 08.40 Chessington-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 09.07 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 09.20 Waterloo-Woking 11 minutes late. Passengers on the 14.50 Waterloo-Reading thrown off at Clapham Junction due to duff stock. 15.11 Shepperton-Waterloo axed due to no guard. 15.52 Bristol-Waterloo axed between Bristol and Westbury. 16.42 Reading-Waterloo axed between Reading and Bracknell due to duff stock. 18.00 Waterloo-Portsmouth reduced to 9 coaches. 18.05 Waterloo-Aldershot 17 minutes late due to no crew. 18.24 Waterloo-Dorking reduced to 4 coaches. 18.35 Waterloo-Reading reduced to 4 coaches. 18.45 Portsmouth-Waterloo 22 minutes late.
Thursday 30/3/06 06.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 17 minutes late due duff stock. 06.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed due to delay to previous service. 07.15 Waterloo-Portsmouth 26 minutes late. Big afternoon delays due to freight train failure in the Micheldever area. 14.01 Poole-Waterloo 26 minutes late. 14.55 Southampton-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 17.05 Waterloo-Weymouth very crowded; after departure passengers were told that, if they had wanted the 17.09 to Portsmouth, they should change at Winchester; not clear whether the problem was misdirection or failure to start the 17.09 at Waterloo. 18.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed.
Friday 31/3/06 05.00 Poole-Waterloo about 20 minutes late. Passengers who had been unable to catch it at Totton were approaching Southampton on the 06.07 Totton-Yeovil when it passed them, apparently empty; staff at Southampton Central managed to get the service away just as they rushed over the footbridge to catch it. 06.42 Hilsea-Waterloo 15 minutes late; stops between Haslemere and Guildford axed for operational convenience. 06.50 Waterloo-Reading 18 minutes late and axed between Waterloo and Staines due to no driver. 07.45 Waterloo-Brentford-Waterloo axed due to no driver. 07.46 West Byfleet-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 15.55 Southampton-Waterloo 27 minutes late due to no crew; all intermediate stops axed for operational convenience. 16.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 17.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed due to duff stock. Passengers on the 20.51 Portsmouth-Waterloo thrown off at Hook due to duff stock. 21.00 Exeter-Salisbury suffered long delay at Gillingham due to a fatality. Passengers on the 22.14 Alton-Waterloo thrown off at Farnham due to duff stock. 22.20 Waterloo-Salisbury axed due to no driver. 22.36 Portsmouth-Southampton 13 minutes late. 22.57 Exeter-Salisbury axed between Yeovil Junction and Salisbury.
Saturday 1/4/06 12.05 Richmond-Waterloo axed. 15.38 Guildford-Waterloo axed. Passengers on the 15.51 Portsmouth-Waterloo thrown off at Basingstoke due to no driver. Passengers on the 16.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth thrown off at Vauxhall. 16.46 Waterloo-Chessington axed. 17.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 45 minutes late due to duff stock; all intermediate stops after Southampton Central axed for operational convenience. 17.40 Chessington-Waterloo axed. 17.45 Salisbury-Waterloo axed due to no driver. 18.01 Totton-Romsey axed due to no driver. 18.39 Waterloo-Southampton axed due to no driver. 18.55 Southampton-Waterloo 21 minutes late due to no crew. 19.00 Romsey-Totton axed between Romsey and Southampton due to no driver. 19.50 Waterloo-Salisbury axed due to no driver. 20.00 Romsey-Totton axed between Southampton and Totton due to no driver. 20.55 Southampton-Waterloo axed between Southampton and Basingstoke due to no driver. 21.01 Totton-Romsey axed due to no driver. 21.20 Waterloo-Yeovil axed due to no driver. 22.00 Romsey-Totton axed due to no driver. 23.01 Totton-Romsey axed due to no driver.
Sunday 2/4/06 09.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 09.54 Waterloo-Bournemouth 19 minutes late due to delay on previous journey. 11.48 Waterloo-Shepperton 27 minutes late. 12.02 Waterloo-Epsom axed due to duff stock. 12.24 Epsom-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 12.54 Epsom-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. Passengers on the 17.15 Waterloo-Paignton thrown off at Salisbury due to no driver. 18.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 23 minutes late. 22.10 Paignton-Salisbury axed between Paignton and Exeter due to no driver.
Monday 3/4/06 21.11 Shepperton-Waterloo 25 minutes late.
Tuesday 4/4/06 09.35 Dorking-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 09.40 Chessington-Waterloo 17 minutes late. 17.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 29 minutes late. 17.47 Plymouth-Waterloo 30 minutes late. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole reduced to 5 coaches and 17 minutes late. 20.42 Reading-Waterloo 19 minutes late.
Wednesday 5/4/06 06.07 Totton-Yeovil axed. 07.39 Haslemere-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 08.10 Chessington-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 11.33 Weybridge-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 15.50 Waterloo-Gillingham 27 minutes late. 16.05 Waterloo-Poole 24 minutes late. 16.15 Waterloo-Portsmouth 22 minutes late. 16.20 Waterloo-Exeter 12 minutes late. 16.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth 12 minutes late. 16.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 10 minutes late. 16.42 Waterloo-Basingstoke only 6 minutes late but intermediate stops before Woking axed for operational convenience.
Thursday 6/4/06 05.45 Poole-Waterloo 10 minutes late; a number of other mainline services into Waterloo around 08.00 advertised as 5-10 minutes late. 07.17 Southampton-Portsmouth 39 minutes late; passengers thrown off at Fareham. 07.38 Waterloo-Southampton 23 minutes late due to duff stock. 07.42 Waterloo-Basingstoke axed due to duff stock. 07.45 Waterloo-Portsmouth 24 minutes late due to duff stock; all intermediate stops between Guildford and Havant axed for operational convenience. 07.50 Brighton-Basingstoke 28 minutes late due to duff stock. 08.32 Portsmouth-Southampton axed between Portsmouth and Fareham. 16.55 / 17.25 Waterloo-Alton both reduced to 4 coaches. 17.45 Waterloo-Havant 16 minutes late due to duff stock.
Friday 7/4/06 08.23 Ascot-Guildford axed. 15.52 Waterloo-Weybridge 16 minutes late due to rolling stock shortage; Queenstown Road stop axed for operational convenience. 15.59 Waterloo-Windsor 19 minutes late due to rolling stock shortage. Passengers on the 17.47 Plymouth-Waterloo thrown off at Exeter due to duff stock.
Saturday 8/4/06 07.28 Guildford-Waterloo 20 minutes late. 08.10 Chessington-Waterloo 19 minutes late. 08.25 Exeter-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 08.42 Waterloo-Shepperton axed. 09.41 Shepperton-Waterloo axed. Walton-on-Thames stop of the 08.42 Waterloo-Basingstoke train axed because of duff train in front. 08.50 Waterloo-Woking 18 minutes late. 14.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 14.59 Wareham-Brockenhurst axed between Wareham and Bournemouth due to no guard.
Sunday 9/4/06 07.42 Portsmouth-Southampton 15 minutes late due to delay on previous journey. 07.43 Andover-Waterloo axed between Andover and Basingstoke due to no crew. 08.16 Wimbledon-Guildford axed due to no guard. Passengers on the 10.10 Reading-Brighton thrown off at Southampton due to duff stock. 12.40 Romsey-Totton axed between Romsey and Southampton due to no driver. 13.10 Brighton-Reading axed between Brighton and Southampton due to duff stock. Passengers on the 11.55 Totton-Romsey thrown off at Southampton due to no driver; 10.48 Weymouth-Waterloo scheduled to call additionally at St Denys and Swaythling to compensate, but was running 25 minutes late due to duff stock. 12.40 Romsey-Totton axed between Romsey and Southampton due to no driver. Passengers on the 14.40 Salisbury-Brighton thrown off at Barnham due to a fatality. Passengers on the 16.32 Portsmouth-Waterloo thrown off at Petersfield due to duff stock. 16.48 Portsmouth-Waterloo 43 minutes late. 17.40 Waterloo-Guildford 27 minutes late. 17.50 Waterloo-Woking 26 minutes late. 18.10 Brighton-Salisbury axed between Brighton and Barnham. 18.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed due to duff stock. 18.56 Guildford-Waterloo 15 minutes late; all intermediate stops after Surbiton axed for operational convenience. 19.10 Brighton-Reading axed. 20.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 41 minutes late due to no rolling stock. 20.54 Reading-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 21.01 Windsor-Waterloo 22 minutes late due to duff stock; passengers thrown off at Staines. 21.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 21 minutes late due to no rolling stock. 21.40 Reading-Basingstoke axed.
Monday 10/4/06 Afternoon fatality at Hersham caused the collapse of afternoon services, with big delays extending into the evening peak. 16.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth axed between Waterloo and Woking; passengers ferried to Woking on the severely overcrowded 16.35 Waterloo-Weymouth. 16.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 28 minutes late. 17.05 Waterloo-Weymouth 20 minutes late; SWT maximised the disadvantages for commuters by sending off the Chandlers Ford line connection just as they raced over the narrow bridge at Southampton Airport to catch it – delay increased to one hour. 17.09 Waterloo-Portsmouth 24 minutes late. 17.30 Waterloo-Portsmouth 17 minutes late. 17.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 12 minutes late. 17.53 Waterloo-Basingstoke 18 minutes late. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole 12 minutes late. 18.35 Waterloo-Weymouth 26 minutes late. 18.50 Waterloo-Reading axed due to no driver. 19.55 Southampton-Waterloo 34 minutes late.
Tuesday 11/4/06 05.40 Basingstoke-Weymouth 9 minutes late. 16.35 Waterloo-Reading omitted all intermediate stops between Waterloo and Feltham for operational convenience. Guard of the 17.05 Waterloo-Weymouth/Poole announced that the Weymouth portion would be first stop Brockenhurst after leaving Southampton; this portion in fact runs through Brockenhurst non-stop to Bournemouth.
Wednesday 12/4/06 There is apparently no time of day when SWT won’t throw you off your train for operational convenience: 04.55 Southampton-Waterloo 21 minutes late – stops at Fleet, Farnborough, Woking and Clapham Junction axed for operational convenience. 05.15 Salisbury-Waterloo 22 minutes late. 05.25 Woking-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 05.40 Basingstoke-Waterloo delayed by engineering works. 06.12 Reading-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 07.30 Shepperton-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches. 14.35 Waterloo-Weymouth diverted via Havant due to failed freight train in the Micheldever area; 47 minutes late by Southampton. 15.35 Waterloo-Weymouth axed due to duff stock. 15.39 Waterloo-Southampton 23 minutes late. 15.55 Southampton-Waterloo 23 minutes late. 15.56 Havant-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 15.57 Brighton-Reading 12 minutes late. 16.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 16.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo 23 minutes late. 16.42 Southampton-Portsmouth 14 minutes late. 17.01 Poole-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 18.54 Poole-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 19.05 Alton-Waterloo 20 minutes late.
Thursday 13/4/06 05.10 Exeter-Waterloo axed between Exeter and Salisbury due to no driver, and reduced to 7 coaches. 09.20 Waterloo-Plymouth reduced to 7 coaches to Salisbury and thence to 3 coaches. 18.00 Weymouth-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 18.20 Yeovil-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 19.15 Portsmouth-Waterloo 27 minutes late. 19.41 Shepperton-Waterloo 32 minutes late. 19.46 Guildford-Waterloo 29 minutes late. 19.57 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 20.03 Woking-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 20.08 Guildford-Waterloo 14 minutes late. 20.10 Chessington-Waterloo 32 minutes late. 20.11 Shepperton-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 20.24 Hampton Court-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 20.33 Woking-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 20.35 Dorking-Waterloo 13 minutes late. 20.40 Chessington-Waterloo 17 minutes late. 20.41 Shepperton-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 20.53 Waterloo-Alton 10 minutes late. 20.57 Waterloo-Kingston-Waterloo axed due to duff stock. 21.11 Shepperton-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 21.20 Waterloo-Woking axed due to duff stock. 21.41 Shepperton-Waterloo 18 minutes late. 22.03 Woking-Waterloo axed between Woking and Surbiton. Passengers on the 23.01 Totton-Romsey thrown off at Southampton due to duff stock.
Friday 14/4/06 08.01 Poole-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 08.20 Yeovil-Waterloo 10 minutes late. 08.55 Southampton-Waterloo 12 minutes late. 08.57 Havant-Waterloo 16 minutes late. 09.14 Alton-Waterloo 15 minutes late. 09.24 Basingstoke-Waterloo 11 minutes late. 10.15 Waterloo-Haslemere 12 minutes late. 12.35 Paignton-Waterloo 24 minutes late due to duff stock. 13.42 Southampton-Portsmouth axed due to duff stock. 15.55 Southampton-Waterloo 16 minutes late.
Saturday 15/4/06 08.25 Exeter-Waterloo 27 minutes late. 13.20 Waterloo-Yeovil 25 minutes late. Mopping up operation at Southampton on the 15.00 Waterloo-Poole due to overflow from toilet. 15.45 Salisbury-Waterloo 15 minutes late.
MEDIA REPORTS ON THE ENVIRONMENT
(These do not necessarily reflect the views of any member of our Group)
Friday 10/2/06 LAST CENTURY THE HOTTEST IN 1,200 YEARS. Researchers from the University of East Anglia found that the twentieth century had the most significant hot period, when concentrations of greenhouse gases were at their highest, since the Medieval Warm Period from 890 to 1170. (Evening Standard)
Monday 20/2/06 US MAY CURB UK POWER TO FIGHT GLOBAL WARMING. A draft treaty between the EU and US curtails the power of national governments. It is meant to liberalise aviation but includes a clause requiring EU states to agree with each other and with the US before taking measures to tackle noise or pollution from airlines. Aviation emissions rose by 12% last year and now account for 11% of Britain’s total greenhouse gas emissions – the fastest growing sector. The Government’s chief scientific advisor, Sir David King, has described global warming as a bigger threat to the world than global terrorism. Industry sources say the US negotiators insisted on the insertion of the clause. America has vigorously opposed taxes on aviation fuel or a proposed emissions trading scheme because of fears that any extra expense would cost jobs and push several of its airlines out of business. Alistair Darling is believed to want the article changed. A DfT spokesman said they wouldn’t sign anything that meant they couldn’t implement an emissions trading scheme. The treaty will be subject to a vote requiring 65% of countries to approve it but Britain doesn’t have a veto. The number of people passing through British airports has soared by 76% over a decade to 215 million in 2004. The wording of the text is so broad that even future curbs on night flights at UK airports could become difficult to implement without US approval because of the impact on incoming flights from America. Under the proposed deal any American carrier would be allowed to operate flights between European cities. Meanwhile campaigners around the UK are objecting to aviation growth. The BAA wants a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow; some 800 homes would be demolished and there would be 175,000 extra flights a year. This could mean 15 million more car movements and massive increases in climate change emissions. Since the Government encouraged aviation expansion in 2003, 12 airports including Southampton have announced plans for major expansion. (Guardian)
Tuesday 28/2/06 UN SCIENTISTS ISSUE DIRE WARNING ON GLOBAL WARMING. A draft of the UN’s next influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report will say that scientists are unable to place a reliable upper limit on how quickly the atmosphere will warm as carbon dioxide levels increase. The report draws together research over the past 5 years and will be presented to governments in April and made public next year. It raises the possibility of Earth’s temperature rising well above the ceiling quoted in earlier accounts. Such an outcome would have severe consequences such as the collapse of the Greenland ice sheet and disruption of the Gulf Stream current. The draft assumes a doubling of carbon dioxide would cause a temperature rise of between 2C and 4.5C, but climate scientists remain divided about the likelihood of the worst-case scenario being realised. James Annan, a British climate scientist who works on the Japanese Earth simulator supercomputer in Yokohama says the risks of extreme climate sensitivity and catastrophic consequences have been overstated. He thinks that the chance of a temperature rise exceeding 4.5C is less than 5%. (Guardian)
Friday 3/3/06 £55 MILLION WIND FARMS PLAN REJECTED. A plan to build Europe’s largest wind farm has been rejected by the Government to protect moorland. The £55m development at Whinash in Cumbria, close to the Lake District National Park, would have featured 27 turbines, measuring 114 metres each. An independent inspector had recommended against the scheme following a public enquiry. Naturalists welcomed the decision but Greenpeace’s executive director condemned the Government for wanting to expand airports and turning down wind farms. (Metro)
Wednesday 29/3/06 PLEDGE ON MEETING TARGET FOR GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS WILL NOT BE MET. Scientists, environmental campaigners and opposition politicians have issued a scathing response to the government’s admission that it will fail to meet a key target to cut greenhouse gas pollution. They called the results of an 18-month review of climate change policies “pitiful” and accused Ministers of lacking the political will to tackle global warming. Margaret Beckett confirmed that measures to reduce emissions are now projected to cut UK carbon dioxide pollution by 15%-18% below 1990 levels by 2010. The Government had pledged to reduce it by 20%. She blamed recent rises in carbon emissions on economic growth and increased energy prices which forced power generators to switch from gas to more polluting coal. Bill Maguire, an expert in natural disasters at University College London said that, if aircraft and shipping are included, then UK emissions in 2005 were higher than in 1990. The Prime Minister tried to regain the initiative by telling a climate change conference in New Zealand that he would press for a new international framework to replace the Kyoto protocol when it expires at the end of 2012. His spokesman said he wanted to use this summer’s G8 summit in St Petersburg to bring in countries such as the US, China and India, which did not sign up to Kyoto. The review lists a series of measures aimed at saving an additional 7-12 million tonnes of carbon by 2010. It includes schemes to reduce emissions through increased energy efficiency and burning biomass. Ministers appear to have ruled out dozens of options proposed in a draft of the review passed to the Guardian last year, which included a crackdown on motorway speeding, a mandatory UK emissions trading scheme and turning the clocks forward an hour. The Government outlined plans to increase local energy production and cut carbon emissions by encouraging householders, small businesses and even schools to use solar panels and small wind turbines to create their own “micropower” systems. A further £50 million was committed in the budget to help develop a low-carbon building programme and overcome the obstacles. The new strategy also includes a “route map” for developing solar and wind power and other types of technology. (Guardian)
MEDIA REPORTS ON TRANSPORT
(These do not necessarily reflect the views of any member of our Group)
Wednesday 1/2/06 DISCREPANCY IN ROMSEY-TOTTON SERVICE LOADINGS. Query about figures reporting that (i) 100 people a day use the Romsey-Totton train service and (ii) the service keeps 4,000 cars a day off the road. On 21/2/06, a Chandlers Ford resident noted that on February 6 he had seen 14 people board the 07.12 from Chandlers Ford, 63 board the 08.12, and 18 board the 09.12. Someone from the rail industry had told him that the DfT monitors travel during school holidays when numbers are down. (Southern Daily Echo) [Clearly many more people use these trains than those travelling to or from Chandlers Ford. Southampton-Eastleigh was always recognised as one of the heaviest point-to-point flows on the Southern Region in BR days]
Friday 3/2/06 PRIVATE EYE MISCELLANEA. One reason that Virgin Trains needs huge handouts is the fee which Virgin charges them for using the Virgin brand name. The fee is listed as an operating cost. The Transport Department has turned down a request for details, under the Freedom of Information Act, on the grounds that the amount is commercially sensitive. Richard Branson gets a £1,000,000 brand fee from Virgin Mobile, a smaller company than Virgin Trains. / Civil servants have requested a £100 million cut in train leasing fees, having missed the opportunity to nail the leasing companies during franchise negotiations. Northern Rail in particular is paying huge amounts for squalid local trains. / The Monopolies and Mergers Commission deemed First’s purchase of Strathclyde Buses against the public interest, and said they should sell chunks of their local bus empire. Labour came to office and allowed First to keep all the spoils provided fare rises were limited to the inflation rate. The Office of Fair Trading has agreed to review the fares cap. First say the market now regulates itself because of the urban transport network in Glasgow. However, they run the trains also. First tries to blame high fare rises elsewhere on the oil price hike, but the price of much of its supply is capped.
Wednesday 8/2/06 ONE TRAIN CANCELLED EVERY FIVE MINUTES. 104,342 trains were cancelled last year, equivalent to scrapping the national timetable for five days. Technical faults and staff shortages were major causes. 4,647 of the cancellations were on South West Trains. (Guardian)
Wednesday 8/2/06 NEWCOMERS LOBBY FOR NEW ROUTES. Following the success of Hull Trains, Grand Central is expected to get approval for running Kings Cross-Hartlepool-Sunderland services. ‘Wrexham Shropshire and Marylebone’ is now hoping to run services over the route from which it takes it name, noting that Shrewsbury is the only English county without direct London trains and that poorly-served Wrexham has a population of 200,000. On 20/2/06 it was reported that the Office of Rail Regulation would hold an oral hearing on 6 March at which rail operators could air their views on approval for the Sunderland services. (Guardian)
Wednesday 8/2/06 GO-AHEAD FOR NEW ST PANCRAS THAMESLINK STATION. A new £65 million station is to be built for Thameslink trains directly beneath the Eurostar terminal. This will replace the inconvenient Kings Cross Thameslink station in Pentonville Road. It should be completed by the end of 2007. (Evening Standard)
Wednesday 15/2/06 MAYOR’S PLAN FOR WATERLOO FACELIFT. Ken Livingstone plans a multi-million pound facelift for Waterloo station. A new public square and transport interchange would be built next to the station. There could also be three new towers, up to 460ft tall. It is hoped that the regeneration of the 197-acre area, the size of 10 football pitches, will create up to 28,000 jobs and provide 1,000 new homes within 10 years. Other plans include a revamp of the station, which would have its main concourse lowered to ground level. There is also to be a new entrance to the station and Underground at York Road, through a redeveloped Elizabeth House, and a massive clean-up of the area. (Evening Standard)
Wednesday 15/2/06 GOSPORT-FAREHAM CORRIDOR. Fareham council’s ruling Conservatives and Liberal Democrat opposition will back a guided bus link with Gosport if the South Hampshire Rapid Transport system is not reprieved by the Government. They continue to support the rapid transport system as the favoured option. (Southern Daily Echo)
Friday 17/2/06 PRIVATE EYE MISCELLANEA. Network Rail treated as a private company to keep its debt, due to reach £20 billion by 2009, out of the government’s balance sheet. Office for National Statistics, but not the National Audit Office, supports this. ONS’ macroeconomics director told the Times “What …matters for this purpose is not the degree of government financial support for NR, but who controls general corporate policy, and that control clearly lies with NR itself”. Whoops! Last year Labour passed legislation giving itself even closer control over rail expenditure. It is due to produce a “high level output specification” next year, instructing NR what to do with the infrastructure. In fact the government now has tighter control over railways than ever before, including during both world wars. BR was given an annual subsidy and left to spend it as it saw fit. This warped logic means that BR must have been a private company. / The original franchises went to the lowest-cost bidders, followed by big bailouts as business plans flopped. Today’s franchises appear no more robust. GNER has started its second franchise, promising to pay the state nearly £2 billion over 10 years. Its business plan is already in tatters because the rail regulators decided there wasn’t enough capacity for the extra Leeds trains specified in GNER’s franchise deal. So GNER may already require a change to its contract. / First Group must realise that transport officials, councillors and MPs are so upset by its fare rises that it would lose out if buses were regulated. It reacted bitterly when transport chief began a study of bus regulation options in South Yorkshire where it had raised fares four times in a year. First said this was a distraction and any operator would face the same pressures. However, in 2005 the cost of a typical 5-mile journey in South Yorkshire rose 3% on Yorkshire Traction buses and 29% on First Group buses. In West Yorkshire, a similar journey costs 33% more on First Group than on Arriva. First Group has bolstered the case for regulation and its eviction from much of Yorkshire. [NB: GNER ran a campaign in February to retain its proposed Leeds services]
Monday 20/2/06 HOW TO BEAT THE PAIN OF TRAIN TRAVEL. Researchers at the University of Nottingham suggest that commuters might be less stressed if the railways were marketed as an airlines-style no-frills service which people should expect to be crowded. (Metro) [We wonder who funded the research, because the Metro’s report says nothing about no-frill airline PRICES]
Tuesday 21/2/06 GOOD SERVICE FROM NETWORK RAIL. Redbridge resident complained of unsightly leftovers from track maintenance adjacent to the Lower Test nature reserve. Eastleigh depot took only two days to promise action and 10 days to undertake the work. (Southern Daily Echo)
Thursday 23/2/06 PARKING NIGHTMARE GETTING WORSE. London’s population is expected to rise by 800,000 over the next decade. More than 250,000 new vehicles are expected over the same period, but there will be nowhere to park them according to a study by the National Housing Federation. Car use in central London is low with 18% of households having two or more cars, compared with 50% in outer London. Public transport is not seen as providing a solution for shoppers with large packages and there are security fears at night. It is often better to provide no parking spaces at Housing Association sites rather than just a few over which people fight. Greater use of bicycles, motorcycles and car sharing is urged. (Evening Standard)
Saturday 25/2/06 MP ATTACKS PLAN TO AXE DIRECT CHANDLERS FORD-SOUTHAMPTON SERVICE. John Denham, MP for Southampton Itchen, has criticised plans to reduce the Romsey-Eastleigh-Southampton-Totton train service to a Romsey-Eastleigh shuttle.(Southern Daily Echo)
Tuesday 28/2/06 NEW WATCHES FOR VIRGIN TRAINS’ STAFF. Virgin Trains’ staff are to be issued with free £30 watches which use the atomic clock and are said to be accurate to within one second every three million years. (Evening Standard) [Perhaps SWT staff could have them, so that passengers are no longer left behind by early departure to cheat on performance!]
Friday 3/3/06 NO EXTRA BENDY BUS ROUTES IN LONDON. Transport for London has decided that bendy buses will not be introduced on further routes. They have fewer seats than double deckers, a number have burst into flames, they encourage fare evasion, are more expensive and there is a shortage of suitable garages. However, they give better value for money as they carry 50% more people. They account for 350 of London’s 8,000 buses. (Evening Standard)
Friday 3/3/06 OYSTER CARDS COULD BE USED ACROSS RAIL NETWORK. Hundreds of thousands of commuters could see fare reductions under plans for the Mayor of London to be given control of mainline train services into London. At present the individual rail companies covering routes into London set the fare structure and have resisted calls by the Mayor to bring in technology that would allow extension of the Oyster card system. The card offers a range of fare reductions but at present is available only to people using buses and the Tube. The cards would also mean that the Mayor could order companies to increase staffing levels at stations. (Evening Standard)
Friday 3/3/06 PRIVATE EYE MISCELLANEA. It appears that GNER’s proposed additional Leeds-London services can be sacrificed for Grand Central’s proposed Sunderland-London services, but any detrimental effects on Edinburgh-London services are more sensitive and have delayed a final decision. / ONE has withdrawn 41 trains on weekdays (95 on Saturdays) from the Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield area lines. This may improve punctuality and result in lower fines and compensation. / The Secretary of State for Transport appears to prefer First’s new design of bendy bus to trams. / Liverpool has given up its legal challenge over the Government’s decision not to support its tram scheme. Inflation has resulted in four English schemes being killed off, and extra funding for Edinburgh’s scheme. [The positive effects of devolution in both Scotland and Wales are becoming noticeable, and not just in transport – perhaps the case for regional authorities in England needs better promotion.]
Tuesday 7/3/06 STRATEGIC RAIL AUTHORITY. Former SRA head, Richard Bowker, emphatically told the Hose of Commons Transport Committee in 2002 that he had not volunteered to underwrite problems that any company might face as a result of strike action. Four months later the SRA was paying National Express millions in compensation for revenue loss arising from a dispute on Scotrail. (Evening Standard)
Tuesday 14/3/06 DUNBRIDGE RESIDENTS MEET SHADOW SECRETARY. Shadow Transport Secretary Chris Grayling met Dunbridge residents campaigning about the proposed virtual elimination of their services. Test Valley Borough Councillor Caroline Nokes spoke of the huge negative impact of cuts to rural services. A spokesman for First Great Western said that the final schedule was far from decided. (Southern Daily Echo)
Thursday 16/3/06 DOUBLE DECKER TRAINS. Transport Secretary Alistair Darling called for double decker trains and a new north-south high speed line to help meet a possible 30% increase in demand for rail travel over the next 20 years. Longer trains, timetabling efficiencies and replacement of the InterCity 125 trains were all under consideration. There could be further closures where services are little used. There were concerns from opposition parties and the RMT that the double decker trains might be a smokescreen for line closures and that the 10 year plan set out in 2000 appeared to have been ditched. (Guardian) [The corresponding Evening Standard article of the previous day also referred to Mr Darling having emphasised the Crossrail project.]
Friday 17/3/06 PRIVATE EYE MISCELLANEA. The timetable to be operated by First Capital Connect (formerly Thameslink) assumed that First would receive 13 trains from Southern who would in turn receive the ex-Gatwick Express units. However, DfT issued the wrong document; Gatwick Express is to continue in some form. First Capital Connect passengers will still be squeezed into a fleet nearly 25% smaller than under BR. / Dithering over the new Kings Cross Capital Connect station has increased the cost to £50 million because builders will work night shifts to make up for lost time. / Newquay’s services are to be cut from 7 trains a day to 4, despite 40% passenger growth over the past 4 years. Meanwhile the local airport has had a £2.8 million upgrade which will encourage cheap flights. In 2002 the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution said, “If no limiting action is taken, the rapid growth in air transport will proceed in fundamental contradiction to the government’s stated goal of sustainable development. Short-haul passenger flights, such as UK domestic and European journeys, make a disproportionately large contribution to the global environmental impacts of air transport and these impacts are very much larger than those from rail transport”. / Go-Ahead is disposing of South Eastern’s managers who have achieved better results than has Go-Ahead on Southern. Bus managers will still lord it over people who know how to run a railway.
Friday 24/3/06 GREEN LIGHT FOR OPEN ACCESS OPERATOR. The Office of Rail Regulation has decided to allow Grand Central to run trains from Sunderland, Hartlepool and the outskirts of Middlesbrough to Kings Cross. The Department for Transport and GNER are unhappy with the decision, which is expected to cost taxpayers £114 million a year by taking traffic from GNER. (Guardian)
Monday 27/3/06 BID HITCH FOR GNER. Attempts by GNER to gain control of South West Trains could face trouble because parent company Sea Containers is in breach of banking covenants. The company admitted full-year results would be delayed because of a £287 million write-down resulting from Sea Containers’ decision to pull out of operating ferries worldwide. (Evening Standard)
Tuesday 28/3/06 GNER THREATENS TO DITCH RIVAL’S CONTRACT. GNER has threatened to strip £1.5 million from Fraser Eagle which provides its rail replacement coach services. Fraser Eagle has a 79% stake in Grand Central which has approval from the Office of Rail Regulation to operate trains from Kings Cross to Sunderland, denying GNER paths for extra Kings Cross-Leeds trains to which they are committed under the terms of their new franchise. The July bombings and slow-down in the economy have also hit GNER’s growth assumptions. (Guardian)
Tuesday 28/3/06 £1 TICKETS TO BOOST OFF-PEAK RAIL TRAVEL. The Government is encouraging train operators to adopt the ticketing policies pioneered by low-cost airlines like Ryanair. Stagecoach is to extend its current Megatrain fares. (Evening Standard) [Will other parent companies use this as a mechanism for creaming off small additional profits using resources allocated to their rail franchises? Stagecoach runs Megatrain with resources allocated to SWT. Do taxpayers get any return from these “hijacked” resources?]
Wednesday 29/3/06 GOVERNMENT CONTROL CONSIDERED TO BE HARMING RAILWAYS. Christopher Garnett, Chief Executive of GNER, has warned the Government could face a backlash over its tightening control of rail franchising. The company has been placed in a position where it will need to fill its trains more and more and more and more, and the extra money will go to the Government. GNER is upset about Grand Central being allowed to take paths on the Kings Cross mainline, as this will reduce its income. (Guardian)
Friday 31/3/06 PRIVATE EYE MISCELLANEA. Secretary of State’s latest speech diverts attention from current inaction to projects far into the future like double-decker trains and a replacement for the Inter City 125 train.
Wednesday 5/4/06 PUNCTUALITY OF TRAINS AT LIMIT. Network Rail claims that the punctuality of trains is at its limit because of incidents like suicides, fires and snowstorms. Passenger Focus considers this unacceptable because it means commuters being late once a week even when performance is at its best (Guardian) [What about all the train failures and driver shortages on SWT?]
Friday 14/4/06 PRIVATE EYE MISCELLANEA. Stagecoach and Virgin have stopped claiming to have bought new trains which were paid for by banks and subsidised by taxpayers, but old habits die hard. A self-congratulatory press advert by South West Trains boasts of “investment” in a “new station at Chandlers Ford” and other major improvements. In fact the station at Chandlers Ford was funded by Hampshire County Council (taxpayers) and the service is funded by a £3.3 million grant to SWT, again thanks to taxpayers. Despite this public generosity, SWT showed itself ungrateful. While most retailers charge low prices for new products, SWT charged 56% more to travel to Southampton from Chandlers Ford than the fare from Romsey, five miles up the line. Under pressure, SWT then grudgingly cut the fare but by then many passengers who tried the new station may have found the service a rip-off and never returned. The word “major” usually describes big projects like new high-speed lines, but one tiny platform now apparently constitutes a major improvement to be marvelled at years later. Virgin Trains is also slapping itself on the back, with Richard Branson announcing that more than 90% of West Coast Main Line trains were on time in February. He promised 90% punctuality 9 years ago! Virgin promised to pay more than £1 billion in premium for the franchise, but instead it has swallowed huge bail-outs. Virgin Trains’ chief Tony Collins boasts that Virgin are the only players who take any risks; for 4 years Virgin Trains has been on a “management contract” where taxpayers cover costs and pay Virgin a “fee” or guaranteed profit. / Less than a month after Nick Jeffries was cleared of all charges against him relating to the Hatfield derailment in 2000, he was dismissed by Network Rail. Apparently his offence was to have given an interview to New Civil Engineer Magazine which, although lacking criticism of his employers, was undertaken without their prior permission.
Friday 14/4/06 “KEN’S PLANS HIT THE BUFFERS”. Government plans to allow the Mayor of London a greater say over services from Hampshire to London have been rejected by the South East Regional Assembly, unless the Assembly has its own representative on the Transport for London board. The Assembly has also turned down proposals to let the Mayor add extra stops in Greater London to longer-distance services. (Southern Daily Echo)