Concerns – The new operator and Railfuture Proposals

SERUG have expressed serious concerns about the working of the line after reading various reports about the new First/MTR franchise award, now branded as South Western Railway (SWR), and wrote to the Dft (Peter Wilkinson ) expressing our views about lack of any improvement in services, capacity increases, passenger benefit and standards, continuing with the existing 25 year old trains, lack of more car parking, and a serious concern about unregulated fares and car parking charges.  The response from the Dft gave no help.. From their decision,  they think their “improvements” are good, but, an example of one, is the 11 minute time saving from Salisbury to Waterloo, that they may be able to achieve if Woking and Clapham Junction stops are omitted. There will be public consultation on that issue, as SERUG would be set fully against that option.

Andy Mellors has been appointed the MD for the new franchise. He was formerly GWR’s engineering Director.

We had a constructive meeting with SWR in July and now the major Waterloo station works (phase one) are complete we look forward to working with them to improve the railway.

In August 2017 Railfuture and SERUG delivered a paper “Salisbury to Exeter Route Capacity Enhancements which can be read in full in the Publications section of this web site. It suggests the way forward to improve capacity, services, and passenger benefits. This is with all 8 MP’s on the route plus the Minster. Our lobbying for improvements with your help gives this paper critical importance.

New Committee Members required…

We urgently require  additional Committee members:

  1. Someone to take responsibility for Communications (currently this role is divided between 2 existing committee members, but now requires a person with marketing and social media skills).
  2. Someone to lead Axminster  station.
  3. Membership and program secretary

Please  email contact@serug.co.uk  if you’re interested in either of these roles…. neither are particularly onerous !

Competition and Markets Authority CMA decision

Railfuture’s  (Rf) complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority has just resulted in First/MTR proposing a fares cap on the two routes between London and Exeter so that travelers are not disadvantaged by the company’s new monopoly position.
SERUG worked with Rf to make this application to ensure passengers are not disadvantaged. However the CMA decided only to consider London Waterloo and Exeter stations as the comparisons – intermediate stations are not considered – we think that a cop out and will continue to check the details as the franchise moves forward.

Our Launch event at Yeovil Railway Centre

Our launch event at Yeovil Railway Centre was a great success, with 60 people present, to hear Chris Austin and Chris Loder.

We outlined our priorities for this line, which are to concentrate on lobbying for the passing loops at Dinton and Whimple, to enable half-hourly services from Exeter and from Yeovil Junction to Waterloo.

We shall shortly be meeting the new franchisees First and MTR to reinforce our priorities and to have preliminary discussions about the relationship with community and user groups.

There was also a lot of discussion about parking space at many of the stations.

The slides from the talks by Chris Austin and Chris Loder are available from us contact@serug.co.uk and will be posted here.

SERUG  –  Salisbury to Exeter Rail User’s Group

Latest Station usage figures now available

The ORR have now published the station usage figures for the 12 months ending November 2016. 

The increase in rail usage continues along the Salisbury to Exeter line – up approximately 3% over 2015 – despite some passengers deserting rail in favour of cars because the station car parks are often full.  

The really interesting figure is the 58% increase in passenger usage over the past 10 years !

Download the file below to view the individual station usage figures:

 Station usage analysis 2006 to 2016 SERUG stations

Commendation for SERUG

SERUG in November 2016  won a coveted national award from Railfuture for the Best new Rail User Group 2016 category – receiving a commendation. This was an accolade indeed and highlights the RUG quality and its independence.

Yeovil to London – Return ticket tops £200 !

The recent problems with signalling and defective stock have led to a number of lengthy delays/cancellations to services on the Waterloo to Exeter line.

An increasing number of people now commute regularly (ie at peak times) to London. Those who leave before 6.30am may be aware that there is an alternative service from Yeovil Pen Mill to London at 06.20 (Arriving Paddington via Castle Cary at 08.38). What many people will not be aware of is the astronomical fare charged by GWR for this route. From January 2017 the Anytime return fare will rise to a whopping £204. That’s almost double the fare on South West Trains!

At times of disruption, the SWT tickets are normally valid from Pen Mill but we strongly advise you to check the SWT website first. We hear tales of guards on the GWR service trying to charge travellers the excess fare – because they had not been advised of the arangmement to accept SWT tickets.  If you do choose to use the 6.20 service when SWT trains are disrupted, ensure you buy your tickets at Yeovil Junction and then drive to Pen Mill. If you buy your ticket at Pen Mill – you are likely to be charged the GWR fare!