South Western train franchise public consultation launched
12 November 2015 • Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review
A 12-week public consultation has launched asking the views of passengers regarding the next South Western train franchise.
Passengers, businesses and local councils in parts of the south-west and south-east will be able to have their say on future rail services thanks to a 12-week government consultation launched on 12 November 2015.
The next South Western train franchise, due to commence in 2017, will focus on overcrowding, punctuality and delivering better journeys on routes that serve parts of Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight. Around 14 percent of all passenger journeys in the UK are made on the South Western network.
Next South Western train franchise will focus on overcrowding, punctuality and delivering better journeys
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “We are determined to make journeys better for the growing number of customers who use these services, and this consultation will ensure passengers are at the heart of this process.
“It is really important that people tell us what they think so we can take their views into account as we develop our plans, and ensure we deliver the improvements that passengers rightly deserve.”
The consultation sets out the expected improvements for the next franchise, including the completion of planned major work at London Waterloo to lengthen platforms 1 to 4 and bring the former international platforms back into use, allowing for longer trains and more space. From 2017, a new fleet of 30 five-car trains is also planned to tackle overcrowding, in addition to the 108 extra carriages being introduced during the current franchise as part of a £65 million government scheme.
It also asks for passengers’ views on a range of other improvements including how the next operator can:
- improve journey times and punctuality, with new financial penalties for delays and cancellations
- significantly increase the take-up of smart ticketing, providing passengers with more convenient and smoother journeys
- take steps to improve customer service and compensation arrangements for passengers
- improve facilities for customers on board trains and at stations
- ensure that free Wi-Fi is provided across the network
- work more closely with TfL and Network Rail for the benefit of passengers
The new franchisee will develop plans to turn the Island Line, which serves the Isle of Wight, into a separate and self-sustaining business. The operator will be required to work with the council, local communities and stakeholders to deliver needed rail services that are sustainable and ultimately reduce costs.
The work of the Peninsula Rail Task Force, which is looking at improving the long-term resilience of the rail network in Devon and Cornwall, will also be taken into account as the government develops its plans for the franchise.
The consultation will run for 12-weeks until 9 February 2016 and can be accessed here.