Hogrider No 93 : June-August 2003 combined issue

South Hampshire Rail Users' Group Newsletter



Split second saves commuters in Clapham smash

Romsey-Totton train service successfully launched and SWT fares rip-off addressed

Franchising: Is it seen to be impartial?

SHRUG's conclusions on franchising in Memorandum to the Select Committee: A review

Rail Passengers Council's meeting at Bristol on 18 June

19 May - SWT commuters suffer shocking lack of information

Rail Users’ Reports - still serious problems on SWT

Notice Board




Split second saves commuters in Clapham smash

On Tuesday 6 May, the 18.05 Waterloo-Poole (an express train with first stop Winchester) was formed of two 4-VEP outer suburban units, with No. 3457 leading. The sliding window ventilators on these trains are permanently bolted together, and passengers can get ventilation only through the droplights in the doors. On this warm evening many droplights were open. An open droplight is much more vulnerable to flying objects from outside than were the higher level sliding ventilators.

As the train entered the bend at Clapham Junction at speed, there were tremendous crashes as an open door on a passing train scraped the side of the front of the third carriage (no 62197) and then scraped the middle of the carriage. There was a cascade of broken glass between these points and immediately outside one of the few non-opening windows. A number of glass pellets were catapulted through the open droplight at the front of the carriage but landed harmlessly on the floor.

About 5 minutes later, two members of the train-crew arrived. After continuing at normal speeds, the train made a special stop at Woking for several minutes, and one of them photographed the scrape marks.

Had the glass shattered outside an open window rather than outside the non-opening window, there is every likelihood that commuters would have suffered injury.

The incident raises several safety issues: (1) relying on droplights adjacent to seating bays for ventilation, instead of higher level sliding ventilators (2) window glass not being shatterproof (3) why was it necessary to inspect the train some 20 minutes later at Woking but not immediately after the incident occurred? (4) why was the door on the passing train not secure? The potential dangers to passengers on the train with the open door were even greater.

A member of the Group did of course make an immediate report to the Health and Safety Executive. They have confirmed the facts, but have been unable to establish how the door of the passing train, stated to be the 16.25 from Portsmouth, came to be open.


Romsey-Totton train service successfully launched and SWT fares rip-off addressed

The Romsey-Totton service duly started on Sunday 18 May, with stops at the new platform at Chandlers Ford from the outset. This was the first time the two towns had been directly linked by rail since the mid-1960s when there was a Sundays-only Hampshire Diesel train at 13.12 from Romsey to Bournemouth. The new service is normally run with two modern class 170 diesel trains (occasionally, as on the morning of 27 May, class 159 units are in use), with unit 170 301 on the first service to Totton. This service brought about 30 passengers to the town, including County Rail Officer Mike Hedderly and his predecessor (now SWT Salisbury Area Manager) Mike Franklin.

From the same day, Solent Blue line commenced their Summer bus timetable with revised services (and revised route numbers) in the Eastleigh/Chandlers Ford area. The cheerful cover of their timetable booklet celebrates the Costa del Chandlers Ford, complete with buses, train and station.

The new service is excellent news, and full marks are due to Hampshire County Council, which has been trying to bring trains back to Chandlers Ford for over a decade, and had to overcome successive hurdles. It is a pity that the BBC's transport correspondent, Paul Clifton, gave a pessimistic prognosis in his TV coverage. This happened because the projected weekly usage was presented as monthly.

The Southern Daily Echo of 17 May reported that the County Council has put £2m into building Chandlers Ford station, and the SRA has provided £3.34m over 3 years to cover running costs for the station and service. So this is basically a publicly-funded project, with little credit to SWT operator Stagecoach. The Government's 10-year transport plan is being seriously undermined because the private sector is swallowing huge amounts of public money whilst failing to invest on any great scale itself, and we are very lucky to get this new service.

By 11 June, the Echo was reporting a fares rip-off by SWT. Passengers were allegedly being charged £4.20 to travel 7.75 miles from the new station at Chandlers Ford to Southampton, but only £2.70 for the 13-mile journey from Romsey. The existing Romsey fare had been set by Wessex Trains for journeys via Redbridge, a distance of 8.25 miles. On a pro-rata basis, Wessex Trains could have been expected to charge about £2.55 for the Chandlers Ford-Southampton journey, so why was SWT charging nearly 65% more? SWT claimed they could not change the fare until September. The danger was that people would try out the service in the meantime, discover how expensive it was, and be discouraged from using it. However, it appears that pressure was applied, because we understand that, by mid-June, a zonal fares structure was expected to have almost immediate introduction.

The new service will achieve its full potential only if fares are set at a reasonable level, and the scheduled connections work. On the first day, the 07.50 Waterloo-Bournemouth was supposed to connect into the new services for Chandlers Ford, Romsey, Swaythling, St Denys, Millbrook and Redbridge. In the event, the 07.50, formed of a pair of ancient slam-door units, was 25 minutes late and all these connections were missed.


Franchising: Is it seen to be impartial?

The official answer was: "There are no specified weightings. The Instructions and Guidance which the Deputy Prime Minister gave to the franchising Director last year ask him to evaluate replacement bids giving due weight to the following criteria: commitment to performance, customer services, innovation, investment and efficiency; the extent to which extra or earlier investment can be obtained; the extent to which better performance can be secured; the extent to which integrated transport measures can be achieved; the extent to which passengers will be a greater voice in level and standards of services and affordability and value for money to the taxpayer."

Lord Berkeley also asked "What levels of service to passengers would exclude existing franchise operators from being awarded new or extended rail passenger franchises in compliance with the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising Objectives, Instructions and Guidance for the Secretary of State."

The reply to this was "There are no specific levels - past performance is one of the many criteria that will be taken into account when assessing bids for new franchises".


SHRUG's conclusions on franchising in Memorandum to the Select Committee: a review

It is interesting to review what the Group said in the "Conclusions" in our Memorandum to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, which was included in the Committee's report on franchising.

What has happened: Richard Bowker appointed Chairman and Chief Executive of the SRA.

What has happened: The SRA has adopted the new position that the railways are a public service, publicly specified and privately delivered.

What has happened: The SRA has assumed responsibility for strategic planning and investment. The private operators are to concentrate on delivery. Stagecoach, whose operation of SWT we particularly criticised in our Memorandum has had its new franchise term cut from 20 years to just 3, the biggest reduction for any train operator.

What has happened: The SRA has decided that much shorter franchises are appropriate, to reflect factors such as economic uncertainty. Award of franchises to depend to a great extent on committed outputs.

What's going well and what isn't?


Not so good


Rail Passengers Council's meeting at Bristol on 18 June

We are grateful to the Council for their invitation to attend. All three presentations were very informative.

Planning timetables around passenger needs - presentation by Richard West, independent Council member

The SRA's Capacity Utilisation Strategy has now been published. RPC had input into the September 2003 timetable planning. Agreed with beneficial changes and got some improvements to other changes, but would like to have achieved more. Would like the SRA to share their thought processes. Want a firm timetable process framework with RPC input. Propose that stakeholders like the regional Rail Passengers Committees, local government authorities, and operators should participate in discussions on route strategies. Routes need to be looked at in their totality. Connections important. Operators and Network Rail should discuss plans with other parties and then submit strategic timetables for public consultation.

Once strategic timetables finalised, incremental changes should also be subject to consultation. Operators should comment on one another's aspirations. There should be at least one meeting of all interested parties. Resulting data should go to Network Rail's timetable conference and revised timetables should be submitted for public consultation. Helpful if the Council could be invited to the conference. Regional RPCs have good links with Rail User Groups and can take account of their views. Possibility of more direct involvement by RUGs if numbers do not get unwieldy. Network Rail said they would respond in due course.

Passenger timetable to be published in December each year from 2004. Supplemental changes allowed at other times. Concerns that having only one timetable per year could mean less flexibility.

Strategic update on timetable planning / network utilisation policy by Tabitha Jay, SRA director of policy

Imperatives are to improve performance, cater for growth and control costs through better engineering processes.

Congestion is not the only problem. Others are condition of assets, operational management, recovery, realistic timetabling - eg how long trains need to stand at stations, and spare rolling stock and crews.

60% of delays are reactionary (knock-on effects). 90% of capacity used on some routes out of London. Correlation between congestion and delays. Congestion depends on the number and mix of trains. Above 75% utilisation of capacity, disadvantages of running extra trains start to outweigh advantages.

Number of train kilometres are up 60% but passenger numbers up 10%. Operators have gone for frequency rather than longer trains.

Now need to get passenger numbers up. Still room for growth, but more complex issue than just train numbers. Scope to lengthen some trains. On very busy lines should trains be more similar to one another? Should freight train traction be more like passenger train traction? Strategy for Midland Main Line (St Pancras-Sheffield) already developed. Thameslink Trains between London and Bedford very overcrowded but spare capacity on some Midland Mainline expresses. These could make extra stops. Conflicting interests because longer-distance passengers would have longer journey times, but the imperative is to have fewer people standing.

Many trains in London area not full-length. Thames' services in and out of Paddington shorter than First Great Western's Inter-City 125s.

Another solution is to reduce the mix of trains. Thameslink 100mph trains and Midland Mainline 110mph trains share the same tracks. This means bigger gaps and fewer trains and worsens performance. A medium term solution would be to get 110mph trains on Thameslink. Alternatively, do Midland Mainline trains need to go at 110mph?

Utilisation strategy is about getting more out of routes. Full data on each route needed. For example, how many unused freight paths are there? Economic appraisal including how do we value time, non-user benefits? Each route utilisation strategy will have a formal consultation process.

The Council noted that the presentation was very positive, with no mention of cuts. SRA replied that near-empty trains on very busy parts of the network were not a good use of taxpayers' money.

What was the use of all these changes if the infrastructure not sorted out? The SRA replied that there were real opportunities, such as 30% increase in seats into Paddington, without expensive additional infrastructure.

The Council considered that whether a line should be for local or long-distance use should not be a matter for the SRA alone. SRA responded that there was no intention of ignoring regional views.

What exactly is a reactionary delay - a suicide can bring a string of trains to a standstill? SRA classified reactionary delays as late return workings by the affected stock.

Talk of longer trains, but Virgin had gone for shorter, more frequent trains and the 4-coach units were not to be brought up to five coaches. SRA said business case for 5 coaches not made. As demand grows, rolling stock position will need to be considered. Virgin was right to go for half-hourly services, but pity that implementation had not been smooth.

How can the SRA apply pressure to stakeholders to build more expensive trains and extend platforms. SRA said this was easier at the point of franchising.

What can be done about capacity on crowded South Eastern commuter routes? The SRA considered that there was more opportunity to improve utilisation on multi-operator routes like London-Brighton. Single-operator routes like London-Ramsgate probably achieving the best already.

Concern expressed that the SRA seems to think that everything goes to London. What about the withdrawn Bristol-Oxford service? When will the late night service from London to Bristol be reinstated? The SRA said that services were being looked at. Unbelievable that there was no direct service between Nottingham and Leeds.

Nothing in the Route Utilisation Strategies about fairness rather than economics. SRA said they wanted to measure benefits and take people's preferences into account.

Would the Transpennine route strategy link with the current franchise exercise. SRA commented that it was a pity the route utilisation strategy had not been done sooner.

What happens if you live outside a route utilisation strategy area? - A route is part of a network. Regional planning assessments? - The SRA said that everything was subject to affordability. Some things had low cost and high benefits.

Does the SRA agree with the RPC's consultation strategy? The SRA undertook to come back to them on that.

Limited time for points from the floor as this was an afternoon-only session. Concern that new services like Bristol-Oxford were not protected, even though popular. The SRA said that best use of a route would continue to be a balance of different uses.

While railway publicly funded, can we demand that regional economic policies are not ignored? The SRA replied positively.

Can small infrastructure changes which would make a big difference be given priority, eg in the Birmingham area which is the hub of the national rail network? The SRA said the agreed upgrade at Filton was a good example [incredibly the Bristol route joins the Paddington-South Wales line via a single track junction at Filton - this seems to be the major reason for delays to Cardiff-South Coast trains]

Is the SRA building bigger or managing what there is? SRA replied that the utilisation strategies are to get the best use out of what there is. This will achieve a well-used baseline against which extra capacity can be considered.

Safe, reliable accessible modern trains by Chris Irwin and Brendan O'Friel, Chairmen of the Western and North Western Rail Passengers Committees

The SRA is to publish a consultation on rolling stock later this year. Doing nothing is not an option. Performance failures often attributable to rolling stock; overcrowding often arises from lack of enough rolling stock.

27 sets of class 175 trains were to be delivered for the North West during January-May 2000 to resolve problems there. Delivery started May 2000 and ended September 2001. 24 sets were to be available daily, but only 18 or fewer achieved. 70,000 kms per failure expected, but only 7,000 achieved. New trains not working 'out of the box'. Passengers suffered unreliable services, short trains, and continued use of 50-year old class 101 units. 'No end of grief to all manner of people'.

What happens to old trains like withdrawn Virgin Inter City 125s? Industry so disunited that couldn't get an answer. Some stand in sidings perhaps to be assigned to the scrapheap. Virgin 125s said to be too expensive to refurbish, but Midland Mainline units being refurbished.

The Pacer (bus-bodied) class 142 units will be around for another decade according to Richard Bowker. What can be done to improve them? Reservations about their safety following the severe damage sustained in the incident at Winsford several years ago.

Very little written about the Rolling Stock Companies (ROSCOs). No system of regulation, so potential for abuse of the market is rife. ROSCOs have added significantly to the costs of the railway. They were supposed to achieve market-led entrepreneurialism. Huge difference between SRA's interventionist approach and how the ROSCOs operate. £5bn invested. Something like £8bn raised through the train operators for the future. Big profits already taken out. Two companies providing identical trains for Virgin - unlikely to be any competitive pricing.

Rolling stock is too often route specific and cannot be redeployed. Two fleets of new Electrostar trains for the South East have incompatible couplings.

Wessex Trains wanted two additional class 153 coaches to relieve overcrowding in the Bristol area. These cost £500,000 in 1988, and are now being hired out for £250,000 a year. Easy to see how the economics of branch lines are being undermined.

Time to specify national rolling stock strategy. The Deputy Prime Minister had noted there was no regulation of the ROSCOs.

The Porterbrook ROSCO representative said discussions were ongoing with the SRA about the cascade of rolling stock. Always difficult to bring new stock into service. ROSCOs are involved in the specification of new stock. Once Network Rail has approved a design, ROSCOs concentrate on that design and on making it work. Under original leasing arrangements the operators bore the risks, and the SRA could pump money in as necessary. With later orders, procurement arrangements are not uniform.

There was a clear perceived threat to branch lines if the SRA doesn't tackle the ROSCOs. Buses would take over. Suggestion from the floor that a non-profit making ROSCO be set up (parallel with Network Rail) to make the existing ROSCOs competitive or drive them out of business.


19 May - SWT commuters suffer shocking lack of information

The first commuting day of the 2003 Summer timetable brought yet more misery. The day started unremarkably, with even Eastleigh passengers finding it difficult to get a seat on the 05.42 Poole-Waterloo, and the 07.06 Basingstoke-Waterloo cancelled.

By the evening peak, there had been an 'incident' at Surbiton. 16.00 Southampton-Waterloo 30 minutes late. 15.47 Portsmouth-Waterloo 20 minutes late. 16.27 Alton-Waterloo 25 minutes late.

Stock for the 17.15 Waterloo-Weymouth arrived at 17.10 and left at 17.25. The train suffered slow running and reached Southampton about 30 minutes late at 18.55. The customer information screens showed that it was the 19.09 to Cardiff. Fortunately, the guard was award-winning Gerry Masters, who gave correct announcements on board the train. After this fiasco, and failure of station staff to oversee its departure, the Poole portion of the 17.15 left Southampton 37 minutes late at 19.10, with extra stops to compensate for the withdrawn Romsey-Totton service.

16.06 Romsey-Totton had terminated at Southampton. No alternative provisions made, and passengers who left Eastleigh at 16.21 got to Totton at about 17.45, an average journey speed of under 7mph.

16.34 Wareham-Waterloo took 75 minutes, instead of 40, to get from Bournemouth to Southampton. Two Virgin trains turned at Southampton instead of Bournemouth, and about 20 passengers from Bournemouth to the North missed both of them.

This was supposed to be the day that Wessex Electric units would take over the 18.05 Waterloo-Poole, in place of slam-door stock. At 17.55 the inward service (14.48 from Weymouth, due to arrive at 17.33) and the 18.05 itself were both advertised as delayed with no indication of the timescale. Some Southampton line passengers therefore caught the 17.56 Waterloo-Eastleigh-Portsmouth train, formed of old outer-suburban coaches. For Totton, there was then a choice: await the 18.05 at Winchester, or change at Eastleigh for the 19.14 from Romsey, due to leave at 19.34.

The 17.56 from London left Winchester 8 minutes late, at 19.09. The 18.05 from London was shown as expected at 19.08. Passengers stared up the line. Soon after 19.15 the customer information display revised the expected time to 19.15. Passengers' faces started to adopt their wry 'That's Stagecoach OK' expressions. Also at 19.15, the 17.49 to London departed, with Clapham Junction and Waterloo passengers to be thrown off at Woking.

Notable absence of staff on the platform at Winchester. Soon after 19.15, it was announced that the 18.05 hadn't even left Waterloo, due to a broken-down train, so the information screens had simply been giving false advice. The 18.30 Waterloo-Weymouth was advertised as delayed. The train to Brighton then arrived 10 minutes before its departure time. Passengers for Southampton were advised to take this train and change at Eastleigh.

Once the Brighton train departed, the guard announced that there would be a train from Eastleigh for stations to Southampton at 19.46; it was running late, but he didn't know how late. Asked about the train for Totton (19.34 from Eastleigh), he said all trains from London were running late. Told that the train started from Romsey, he said that the 19.46 was the Totton train. It wasn't worth asking any further, as the 19.46 is a long-standing Wessex Trains circular service from Swindon to Swindon, and doesn't serve stations to Southampton (except the Airport), let alone Totton which is not even on its route.

The Brighton train got to Eastleigh at 19.38. The 'late' 19.46 Wessex Trains service arrived at 19.43. At Southampton, it evolved that there was a broken rail at Millbrook and complete collapse of SWT services. No announcements, but enquiry established that there was a road coach outside the station for stations to Poole.

A quick check at Totton station established that the return service to Romsey was advertised as cancelled (we understand that Romsey-Totton services had been withdrawn for much of the day). The moving banner display proudly confirmed that the cancelled train would call at Chandlers Ford.


Rail Users’ Reports - still serious problems on SWT

26/4/03 18.50 Waterloo-Poole 17 minutes late by Southampton. 19.20 Waterloo-Porstmouth Harbour 30 minutes late. 19.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 16 minutes late

28/4/03 05.42 Poole-Waterloo 7 minutes late awaiting a platform because of the late departure of the 08.00 Waterloo-Wareham. 15.06 Poole-Waterloo 12 minutes late.

29/4/03 06.42 Hilsea-Waterloo 10 minutes late.

30/4/03 At 18.00 nearly all mainline services at Waterloo were late: 16.01 from Portsmouth and 15.06 from Poole 12 minutes late, 15.34 from Wareham 8 minutes late. 17.51 Waterloo-Portsmouth left at 18.00

1/5/03 Could an evening out end more miserably? 22.55 Waterloo-Poole formed of two outer-suburban units in a generally poor state. Advertised buffet service not available. Train stone-cold by Southampton, and was to terminate at Bournemouth because of engineering work.

2/5/03 18.18 Waterloo-Dorking, 19.19 Dorking-Waterloo and 20.15 Waterloo-Dorking all advertised as 4 coaches only, due to faulty train. 18.50 Waterloo-Poole about 10 minutes late.

3/5/03 18.00 Brighton-Salisbury nearly 15 minutes late by Southampton. 21.20 Portsmouth-Waterloo cancelled due to no driver - fortunately only one hour until the next service.

6/5/03 18.05 Waterloo-Poole involved in smash at Clapham Junction. See separate item.

7/5/03 18.30 Waterloo-Weymouth left at 19.10 with many commuters standing; additional stop at Basingstoke. Stock for 18.50 to Poole expected at 19.25. 20.30 Waterloo-Weymouth and 20.35 Waterloo-Exeter both 15 minutes late.

8/5/03 Morning peak services widely disrupted when a Portsmouth train failed outside Waterloo station and needed attention by fitters.13 suburban trains trapped by points failure at Wimbledon depot. 05.42 from Poole reached Waterloo 10 minutes late; alighting passengers noted that the "information" screens showed no delays whatever. Major afternoon delays. 14.45 Waterloo-Wareham about 30 minutes late at Southampton. 15.00 Waterloo-Wareham 49 minutes late. 20.30 Waterloo-Weymouth 15 minutes late due to delay to an earlier service.

11/5/03 Afternoon services between Ascot and Aldershot collapsed due to a failed train.

12/5/03 05.42 Poole-Waterloo dreadfully overcrowded with many passengers standing from Eastleigh and Winchester. Similar overcrowding to Woking on the 17.56 Waterloo-Eastleigh-Portsmouth which departed at 18.00.

13/5/03 06.10 Portsmouth-Waterloo 10 minutes late. Lightning strike affected signals at Woking. Massive delays in evening peak. 15.45 Salisbury-Waterloo 45 minutes late and 16.15 simply advertised at Waterloo as delayed. 16.00 Southampton-Waterloo and 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo both about 45 minutes late. 16.38 Alton-Waterloo cancelled and 17.48 Waterloo-Alton started from Woking. 16.17 Portsmouth-Waterloo about 30 minutes late. 17.51 Waterloo-Portsmouth made extra stops; the stock was expected to reach London 20 minutes after its departure time. Stock for 17.56 Waterloo-Portsmouth via Eastleigh expected about 15 minutes after its departure time. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole was roughly on time but hugely overcrowded to Woking.

17/5/03 10.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 15 minutes late at Southampton.

18/5/03 07.50 Waterloo-Bournemouth was the first train from London since 1969 with a connection for Chandlers Ford; 25 minutes late and connection missed. 09.30 Waterloo-Weymouth about 15 minutes late.

19/5/03 Services collapsed: see separate item.

21/5/03 15.04 Poole-Waterloo over 15 minutes late. 16.17 Portsmouth-Waterloo nearly 10 minutes late. 20.20 Waterloo-Portsmouth reduced to 4 coaches.

26/5/03 Huge Bank Holiday disruption for SWT passengers due to engineering works. Usual chaos at Southampton Central because the Customer Misinformation System cannot distinguish between platforms 3A and 3B, and lumps together the departures from both. So it was that the 13.48 to Poole sat at platform 3B, with the adjacent screen showing it as the 13.47 to Portsmouth Harbour. Fortunately, the incoming stock for the Portsmouth train was so late that the screens did eventually change to show the 13.48 as the next departure.

27/5/03 06.26 Poole-Waterloo 10 minutes late at Totton and 18 minutes late by London.

28/5/03 There seems to be a permanent speed restriction at Worting Junction, which slows trains on the down journey. 17.15 Waterloo-Weymouth about 7 minutes late at Southampton.

29/5/03 17.15 Waterloo-Weymouth arrived at Southampton over 20 minutes late due to a signalling defect at Wimbledon. Most mainline evening trains were around 25 / 30 minutes late.

30/5/03 17.15 Waterloo-Weymouth departed at 17.18 and ran on the down suburban track. Conductor announced that there was a train failure at Clapham Junction. Signal check between Vauxhall and Queenstown Road for 15 minutes whilst other fast trains passed on the correct track - presumably the failure was only short-lived. The 17.15 was kept on the slow line to New Malden. Some of the coaches had no air conditioning and were horribly hot - conductor apologised for the discomfort and also for so many passengers having to stand (it was a hot Friday evening at the end of the school half-term). Conductor announced the normal split as the train arrived at Southampton Central 49 minutes late. However, with the unconcerned attitude towards commuters which SWT management robustly supports, staff at Southampton Central announced that, contrary to the information only just given by the conductor, the train would run fast to Bournemouth. There was then chaos whilst around 200 passengers were thrown off the rear five coaches, many with luggage and bicycles. It took a good time to get everyone off - some who were unfamiliar with the area, and with SWT 's perception of customer care, were worried and angry. The 17.45 from Waterloo was next to arrive and split as booked. The rear portion departed 22 minutes late and was 'standing room only' in all five coaches! Additional, compensatory stop at Ashurst where passengers off the 17.15 arrived almost an hour late at 19.40. The customer information screen showed the train as the 19.20 additional service to Bournemouth!

2/6/03 05.42 Poole-Waterloo suffered inhuman overcrowding. The conductor called on all SWT employees to give up their seats to fare paying passengers.

4/6/03 Fatality at Wimbledon at around 07.30. Three lines closed through the station. 05.42 Poole-Waterloo 23 minutes late. 06.19 Poole-Waterloo 22 minutes late. 08.15 Waterloo- Southampton cancelled. Many delays until midday.

5/6/03 16.20 Exeter-Waterloo over 20 minutes late; 18.51 Basingstoke-Waterloo 10 minutes late.

6/6/03 Noted at both Totton and Southampton Central that screens were announcing Totton-Romsey services as calling at Chandlers Ford whereas the stop was omitted from tannoy announcements. This inevitably confuses passengers and can be seen as slipshod.

9/6/03 17.15 Waterloo-Weymouth 10 minutes late due to signal problems in the Woking area. 15.34 Wareham-Waterloo over 30 minutes late.

10/6/03 15.48 from Weymouth and 16.34 from Wareham both over 10 minutes late into Waterloo. 18.50 Waterloo-Poole departed several minutes late and was delayed several more minutes at Micheldever pending the doors being opened.

11/6/03 12.00 Southampton-Waterloo reduced to 4 coaches due to duff rolling stock.

12/6/03 At 18.00 most mainline services were arriving at Waterloo 5-10 minutes late. 18.08 to Haslemere reduced to 4 coaches. 18.05 to Poole left at 18.10 and, with generally sluggish running, was 10 minutes late by Winchester. Rubber lining around a non-public door in the buffet coach of unit 2417 had such a gaping hole that passengers could watch the trackside.

13/6/03 15.44 from Exeter, 15.48 from Weymouth and 16.06 from Poole all about 15 minutes late into Waterloo. Some other mainline services 5-10 minutes late. 17.15 to Weymouth arrived at Waterloo in two parts, the second at 17.05. Train departed at 17.20 and was over 20 minutes late by Southampton; signal checks en route to Clapham Junction but no official explanation whatever. Huge numbers standing to Winchester and serious problems with the air conditioning. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole left at 18.30 and was 40 minutes late by Totton. The conductor told passengers for Weymouth to change at Brockenhurst, but the train was held at Millbrook for the 18.30 to sweep past. The conductor then apologised and said he could only pass on what he was told - familiar story of SWT's failure to get its act together! 18.30 to Weymouth left Waterloo at 18.49, with many standing or sitting on the floor. Lost another 4 minutes by Southampton; no explanation of the delay. Connection for stations from Swaythling to Totton not honoured, meaning delays of up to one hour. 18.50 Waterloo-Poole 10 minutes late; stifling hot conditions in third coach due to duff air conditioning.

15/6/03 General delays to Waterloo-Bournemouth services reported during the evening.

16/6/03 Dreadful overcrowding on the 05.42 Poole-Waterloo with passengers standing from Southampton Airport. The guard amusingly asked passengers to keep the aisles clear for the buffet trolley. Difficult to see how this could be achieved unless they sat on the luggage racks or between the seat backs. At 18.00 most mainline arrivals at Waterloo were running 5-15 minutes late.

17/6/03 06.10 Portsmouth-Waterloo had not reached Eastleigh 10 minutes after its departure time. A commuter in the front coach of the 18.50 Waterloo-Poole joined the ranks of SWT passengers lucky to escape spinal damage when their seats collapse under them.

18/6/03 08.30 Waterloo-Weymouth delayed 6 minutes at Southampton while the units were uncoupled and passengers compacted into the front portion. 15.48 Weymouth-Waterloo about 15 minutes late at Southampton. 16.33 Portsmouth-Southampton about 45 minutes late. Incredible state of chaos at Southampton Central: SWT staff were debating in front of a crowd of passengers whether the 17.55 to Brockenhurst would actually run, when the overcrowded 5-coach 18.12 to Poole arrived on another platform and there was a stampede across the footbridge. 17.15 Waterloo-Weymouth left at 17.20 and was 10 minutes late by Southampton.

19/6/03 16.01 Portsmouth-Waterloo 10 minutes late. Duff air-conditioning reported in some coaches of the 16.30 Waterloo-Weymouth and 18.05 Waterloo-Poole. Paddington-Reading services withdrawn due to lineside fire and exploding gas canisters. Passengers advised to travel via Waterloo and Basingstoke, presumably because of the very limited capacity on Waterloo-Reading direct services. Terrible crush on Basingstoke trains, with passengers in some cases leaning against doors in ancient Mark I coaches. 17.45 Waterloo-Weymouth so overcrowded that some regular users unable to board. The 18.05 Waterloo-Poole had scores of empty seats; presumably too much trouble to arrange a Basingstoke stop which would have cost around 4 minutes - the train was in any case 4 minutes late by Totton.

20/6/03 06.00 Southampton-Poole already 7 minutes late by Totton. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 32 minutes late; arrived at Waterloo at 18.05 to form the 18.05 to Poole. Other mainline trains arriving at Waterloo 5-15 minutes late. The 18.05 left at 18.14, but the slower 18.10 to Yeovil was sent just in front, so it failed to recover any time despite having 8 minutes slack to Winchester because it is still scheduled for old Mark I stock but actually operated with a pair of Wessex Electric units.

21/6/03 Big morning delays due to a signal failure at Dorchester.

23/6/03 Day of chaos. Points and signalling failure in the New Malden area. 05.42 Poole-Waterloo 25 minutes late; at Vauxhall it overtook an earlier Wessex main line service which had travelled via Staines. 11.35 Waterloo-Plymouth 46 minutes late. 12.35 Waterloo-Exeter 37 minutes late. 16.00 Brighton-Reading started from Fareham. 13.48 Weymouth-Waterloo 24 minutes late; all passengers not wanting Waterloo were thrown off at Bournemouth as stops at wayside halts like Southampton Central were omitted for operational convenience. 15.38 Waterloo-Portsmouth started from Woking. 14.48 Weymouth-Waterloo completed its journey 27 minutes late, at 18.00. Passengers who had boarded the 17.15 Waterloo-Weymouth were thrown off. The front half then left at 17.10 as the 16.45 to Poole, with inhuman overcrowding. After attachment of another unit at 17.16, the 17.15 itself left at 17.26 and was 20 minutes late by Southampton. 17.45 Waterloo-Weymouth left at 17.57. 15.04 Poole-Waterloo and 16.17 Portsmouth-Waterloo both about 10 minutes late. Third coach of 18.05 Waterloo-Poole had tropical heating and the fifth coach had arctic cold. The train appeared clapped-out and, despite the 8 minutes slack in this service between Waterloo and Winchester (due to the change of rolling stock), it arrived at the latter 10 minutes late. Three passengers were lucky to get off at Totton, because no announcement about short platforms was given after departure from Southampton. Many passengers are less lucky. If all guards controlled the doors from the middle of 10-coach trains - as some do - this would be less of a problem.

24/6/03 05.42 Poole-Waterloo 15 minutes late - delay at Clapham Junction due to duff preceding train.

30/6/03 Is anyone's spine safe from injury on SWT trains? Two adjacent seats on the 05.42 Poole-Waterloo collapsed under passengers. The train was 10 minutes late due to slow-line working East of Basingstoke. The 06.53 Poole-Waterloo was already 15 minutes late by Southampton.

1/7/03 General delays at Waterloo to incoming evening services. At around 17.00, London services advertised at Southampton as running late due to shortage of drivers at Bournemouth depot. 14.48 from Weymouth over 25 minutes late. 15.04 from Poole, 15.34 from Wareham, 16.17 from Portsmouth and 16.47 from Basingstoke all about 10 minutes late. 17.56 to Guildford via Epsom reduced to 4 coaches and 17.58 to Guildford via Weybridge delayed by needing attention from an engineer. Second coach of the 18.05 Waterloo-Poole virtually unused due to duff air-conditioning. Train was 5 minutes late by Totton despite the 8 minutes slack in its schedule, which was devised for Mark I stock.

2/7/03 05.42 Poole-Waterloo and 07.18 Basingstoke-Waterloo about 15 minutes late. 06.19 Poole-Waterloo and 06.10 Portsmouth-Eastleigh-Waterloo about 10 minutes late. Seat collapsed under passenger in second coach of the 05.42.

3/7/03 06.10 from Portsmouth and 06.19 from Poole over 5 minutes late into Waterloo. 15.04 from Poole and 15.34 from Wareham both about 10 minutes late into London. 18.05 Waterloo-Poole had a very slow run to Woking, due apparently to a duff preceding train. Train was 10 minutes late by Eastleigh, despite the 10 minutes slack in its schedule.

4/7/03 Such is the shortage of rolling stock on SWT that the 16.09 from Waterloo to Woking, 17.29 and 17.59 to Hampton Court and 18.53 to Chessington were all pre-advertised as comprised of 4 coaches only.


Notice Board

The Rail Passengers Committee for Southern England's next public meeting is scheduled to take place in Eastbourne on 14/15 July. The Committee can be contacted at Centric House, 390/391 Strand, London, WC2R 0LT. Tel 020 7240 5308. Fax 020 7240 8923. They now have an email address: info.southern@railpassengers.org.uk, and website: www.railpassengers.org.uk/Southern.

Railfuture, the former Railway Development Society, campaigns for better rail services throughout Great Britain, and has 17 local groups affiliated to thousands of people in rail user groups. Produces a quarterly magazine 'Railwatch'.

The organisation's philosophy is that there are many positive economic, social and environmental reasons to travel by rail: roads cause 134 times more pollution than rail, travel by rail is at least 18 times safer than by car, and one train can replace more than 100 lorries.

Membership is £17.50 for one year for an individual; £17.50 for a family (+ £2 per extra person); £8.50 for an OAP/student/unwaged person; and £35 for a local authority or company (information correct at April 2003).

Address is 207 Colourworks, 2 Abbot Street, London E8 3DP. Website: www.railfuture.org.uk Tel: 020 7249 5533. Fax: 020 7254 6777. E'mail (To Marketing Director Kate Tudor-Pole) kate@railfuture.org.uk