Rail: End Of Our Tether


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Steve Brine has this morning described the rail chaos affecting our area as ‘totally unacceptable’ after commuters on South Western Railway were told “not to travel” after engineering works overran.

No SWR trains were running this morning between Surbiton and London Waterloo, and the rail operator said services across its entire network may be cancelled, delayed or revised all day after work due to finish at 04:30 GMT was delayed.

Steve gave this comment as normally packed rush hour trains were cancelled: “This is totally unacceptable. The travelling public have had a miserable few months and I can say, both as a commuter and a local MP, we are absolutely at the end of our tether.


“It is not acceptable to say don’t travel, people make plans, they have jobs and they need to get on with their lives. I will be speaking to the Secretary of State for Transport as soon as (and if) I can get to London this morning.

“Network Rail and SWR need to get together and deliver on the promises SWR made to my constituents when they won the franchise 16 months ago.

“We need them to get a grip and work together, acting on the recently published Holden Review would be a good place to start.

“Overrunning engineering works seems to be the least of their problems right now but they need to eliminate these failures.

“I have written to SWR and NR this morning asking for a full explanation and an apology on my desk by the end of the day which I will be publishing for my constituents to read.”

*** update ***

As promised, Network Rail and South Western Railway have replied to me as below.

Sent on behalf of Becky Lumlock, managing director of Network Rail’s Wessex route, and Andy Mellors, managing director of South Western Railway:

Dear Mr Brine

Severe disruption on the SWR network – Overrunning Network Rail work

Thank you for contacting us this morning about severe disruption today, particularly to main line and suburban services.

This was caused by significantly overrunning Network Rail engineering work which blocked all lines between Weybridge and London Waterloo.

We are very sorry for the inconvenience this will have caused to your constituents, and may have caused to your journey. The level of service today has been unacceptable for our passengers and well below the standard they deserve and rightly expect.

The late engineering work, which was essential to replace old infrastructure, meant we were unable to open any lines between Weybridge and Waterloo. This also meant a large number of trains could not leave their depots, severely reducing the service we could run.

All four lines between Weybridge and Waterloo, which had to remain closed while safety critical work was completed, were reopened just after 09.30.

Surbiton, Earlsfield and Raynes Park stations, which were closed to passengers to avoid overcrowding while the service was severely disrupted, have now reopened.

Safety is our highest priority and we had to test the railway after completing work to make sure the track was safe for our trains to run over. We are looking into why the work overran, which we will update you on separately.

As soon as it was clear that work would not be completed on time we advised our passengers not to travel, to use alternative routes or to delay their journey on our services.

Throughout the rest of today we will work as hard as possible to recover the service, although passengers should still expect severe delays, for some services to be revised or cancelled and stations to be very busy.

Once again, we are sorry for the poor service your constituents have experienced today.