SWR Under Formal Review


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The Government’s decision to award the Winchester railway franchise to South Western Railway has taken a new twist – with the news that the operator is now under formal review.

Transport Minister Chris Grayling says he’s “very disappointed” with the performance of SWR over recent months and was aware local MPs has been frustrated by the issues passengers have experienced: “Whilst it is important to recognise that a significant proportion of the delays on SWR routes are attributed to Network Rail and that we have seen some good progress in performance in recent weeks, overall performance has simply not been good enough and I am determined that we see a long term, sustained performance improvement across this route.

“That is why I have commissioned an independent review of SWR and NR, to ensure all possible steps are being taken to improve performance and the passenger experience. The review will be independently chaired by Sir Michael Holden, who has over 40 years’ experience in railway operations and will be completed in summer 2018.”


Winchester’s MP Steve Brine is welcoming the news: “This shows how seriously the Government takes what has been a poor start to the franchise. I have made no secret of the fact I am very disappointed by the opening months of the SWR franchise, and I know my constituents very much share that view.

“The operator has had some bad luck to start its tenure including a politically motivated strike which is beyond its control but it’s right we hold them to account at this stage.

“This SWR Franchise Agreement actually has provisions that incentivise SWR to improve their own performance, and to work jointly with Network Rail. Where performance falls below expected levels, SWR are required to invest additional sums into initiatives to address the causes of the poor performance.

“As a result, SWR have committed to investing around £5 million in performance improvement initiatives in 2018/19 and I know that Mr Grayling and MPs will be closely monitoring progress.”