The Department for Transport and South West Trains have agreed a major package of customer service improvements under amended franchise deal


Tim Shoveller, chief executive of the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, and rail minister Claire Perry mark the deal


South West Trains and the Department for Transport have agreed a deal for the train operator to introduce a £50m package of customer service improvements and additional weekend and evening trains, the majority of which will be  implemented prior to the SWT franchise ending in February 2017.

It means that new investments can start being made before the planned direct award franchise which will run from 2017 to 2019.

The £50m package will provide:

  • Improvements to evening and weekend services on suburban and mainline routes, including 73 new services, additional seating on existing services, and some faster journey times;
  • An extra 1,400 car park spaces by end of  2017 to accommodate growth at the busiest stations;
  • A new online booking system and expansion of smart ticketing to include journeys into London Waterloo and on London’s bus and Tube network;
  • Improved customer information, marketing and additional fares promotions, with initiatives including a new website and mobile app, and research to better understand passenger priorities;
  • 170 new ticket machines (90 with a facility for customers to ask for help via a video link);
  • More visible staff on station concourses to help passengers.

SWT has already started a trial of its smartcard on TfL’s Oyster infrastructure with 15,000 cards issued to staff and their families. A customer pilot on the Portsmouth-London is planned for the autumn with passengers renewing their annual season tickets offered the opportunity to take part.

The plans will complement SWT’s existing projects to refurbish 108 carriages, introduce 150 new carriages from 2017, create a 10-car railway on the Windsor Lines and fully reopen Waterloo International for domestic train services. Last week the SWT/Network Rail Alliance appointed  Skanska, Colas Rail, AECOM and Mott MacDonald to scope out the plans to increase capacity at Waterloo and inner London stations for submission to the Office of Rail Regulation/DfT.

Tim Shoveller, chief executive of the Network Rail/SWT alliance, said the changes would “deliver the biggest package of customer focused benefits for years”.

Stagecoach said the deal with the DfT to deliver the package of benefits would have no material impact on profits.


This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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