SWR announce faster trains on 21st and 28th December 2018.

SWR announced faster trains this winter from Waterloo to Sherborne and to Honiton for example and these were well received and occupied, despite little chance of early advertising. Overall Sherborne in 1 hr 47 mins rather than 2 hrs 12 mins – wow, with existing 30 year old trains too. 

SWR apologise for poor train availability. (November 2018)

SWR have issued an apology for the poor train availability during the latter half of 2018. This has been caused by the old age of the trains, engine issues, a change in engine maintenance supplier at Salisbury Depot, and the required general upgrading (CR6) for the units and work for Persons with Reduced Mobility work (PMR) which has to be completed by 2020. A greater number of units than usual, have been out of service, resulting in trains with fewer carriages, leading to overcrowding. There have been the cancellation of a few services as well, especially afternoon Exeter to Honiton/Axminster trains. These  problems are being resolved and there appears to be a return to full formations early in 2019 and  additional coaches on some service from that time.

SERUG meets MPs and the Rail Minister at the House of Commons

SERUG’s Chair Bruce Duncan and Secretary Nick Hurrell, have attended two recent meetings at the House of Commons.

The first, in late February was to present the Railfuture/SERUG Proposals for long term investment to the MP’s whose constituencies adjoin the line.  These can be seen  in full, tagged below, as 1) the Presentation and 2) the Proposal.

Sir Oliver Letwin coordinated the group of MP’s and all stations on the Salisbury to Exeter section were represented. Our proposals, which provide major passenger benefits, including better reliability, capacity and time savings, were well received. In summary, they covered SERUG’s aims as outlined elsewhere on this web site, with track doubling from Dinton into a new platform at Tisbury, and a loop between Whimple/Cranbrook as the main priorities. A further loop between Yeovil Junction and Crewkerne would also help resilience for GWR diversionary trains. Finally, we proposed improvements at Yeovil Junction to allow trains to split and join, which would improve journey opportunities and actually requires minimal investment but simply need the will from Network Rail. The need for new trains was also highlighted. We believe our proposals are realistic – given budget constraints.

Sir Oliver, after consulting with his colleagues, wrote to the Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, supporting our proposals and requested funding to allow Network Rail to cost the work.

Subsequently, we were invited to meet the Rail Minister on 1st May. At that meeting we were informed that he has opened a “window” between 31May and 31 July 2018 to allow proposals for additional investment that do not currently sit within Network Rail’s future investment plans. The MP’s are keen that SERUG’s proposals form the basis of improvements to the Salisbury to Exeter section. We will now work with The West of England Strategy Group (Network Rail and South Western Railway supported) and the MP’s to produce a formal plan which also needs to have support from local Councils and LEP’s.

In summary, good progress, but there’s much work to be done! However, we are very hopeful that our continuing lobbying with stakeholder Network Rail, will finally start to see some real plans to improve services on this line.

The presentation  –   HOC-21-Feb-pres-2-final.pptx (230 downloads)

The Proposal  –   21-Feb-2018-mtg-Proposal-final.docx (260 downloads)

Latest Station usage figures to November 2017.

The ORR  published the station usage figures for the 12 months ending November 2017. We await the figures for November 2018, which may reflect lower number of journeys due to strikes, Network Rail issues, (eg track failures etc) , poor rolling stock availability – we shall see.

The annual increase in rail usage continued during 2017, along the Salisbury to Exeter line – up approximately 4.3% over 2016- despite some passengers deserting rail in favour of cars because the station car parks are often full.   Cranbrook showed a huge 340% increase, but with a few deserting Feniton, Whimple and Pinhoe. Cranbrook as anew town is not yet built out (about 30% only). Also Waterloo was virtually closed in August 2017 when the upgrade was carried out.

The really interesting figure is the 58% increase in passenger usage over the past 10 years  from 2006 to 2016

Download the file below to view the individual station usage figures for November 2016 to November 2017 – 

Station-usage-analysis-inc-2017-1.xlsx (213 downloads)

SERUG Response to South Western Railway consultation on December 2018 and results

We have now submitted our response to South Western Railway’s Timetable Consultation. Please see our Publications page or click here.

April 2018 showed SERUG and others are listened to as SWR announce that our Woking and Clapham Junction off peak stops will be retained from the December 2018 timetable changes. The Dft working with Government “pulled” all the changes services until further notice, but hopefully some agreement may be forthcoming before May 2019 imitable. Some extra services were within the SWR franchise agreement and they will be anxious to resolve this serious matter.