News story

Better journeys on the way for rail passengers across the South Western network

South Western rail franchise competition specification documents released for bidders.

  • franchise bidders must set out how they will deliver more trains and more space for passengers
  • quicker journey times for passengers on at least 70% of services
  • new operator expected to take over the franchise in June 2017

Plans to give rail passengers along the South Western network more trains, more space and faster journeys were today (4 July 2016) unveiled by Rail Minister Claire Perry.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has published documents setting out how bidders for the new South Western franchise will be required to provide plans for:

  • at least 95 additional services on weekdays from December 2018
  • a doubling of services along the London Waterloo to Reading and Waterloo to Windsor and Eton Riverside routes from 2 to 4 trains an hour
  • earlier first trains and later last trains on many routes from December 2018
  • quicker journey times on at least 70% of all services from December 2020
  • an increase of at least 20% in peak time capacity from December 2020
  • a new delay repay compensation system for passengers with a quicker and simpler claims process
  • new smart ticketing technology and new tickets for part-time workers

The publication of the invitation to tender is a significant step forward in delivering better journeys for passengers. It details the minimum level of improvements bidders hoping to secure the next franchise will need to include in their detailed proposals.

Bidders are also encouraged to include proposals for additional benefits over and above the minimum requirements published today.

South Western franchise main passenger benefits infographic.

Rail Minister Claire Perry said:

We are making the biggest investment in the railways since the Victorian era and this is great news for passengers who will see real benefits across the South Western network.

The South Western franchise has some of the busiest routes in the country, serving a diverse range of passengers and places and these improvements will deliver faster, smoother journeys for customers using these services.

The 2 shortlisted bidders for the franchise were announced in February 2016. These are:

  • First South Western Trains Limited
  • Stagecoach South West Limited

The current franchise is operated by South West Trains and covers urban, suburban, regional and long-distance routes between London Waterloo, Reading, Bristol, Exeter, Weymouth and Portsmouth. It also includes the Island Line on Isle of Wight.

Bidders for the South Western franchise have until September 2016 to submit their bids, with the new operator planned to take over the franchise in June 2017.

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