South West Trains
4 Feb 1996 − 31 Jan 2004
1 Feb 2004 − 3 Feb 2007
4 Feb 2007 – 27 Apr 2019
|Main region(s):||Greater London, Hampshire, Surrey & Dorset|
|Other region(s):||Berkshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon|
|Fleet size:||337 (343 including Island Line)
11 Class 158 Express Sprinter sets
30 Class 159 South Western Turbo sets
45 Class 444 Desiro sets
127 Class 450 Desiro sets
91 Class 455 sets
30 Class 458 Juniper sets
1 Class 73 Rescue electro-diesel locomotive
(6 Class 483 - Island line sets). 23 British Rail Class 456 (coming soon)
|Stations called at:||213|
|Stations operated:||185 (including Island Line)|
|National Rail abbreviation:||SW|
It operates the majority of commuter services from its Central London terminus at London Waterloo to South West London as well as most outer suburban/regional services to Surrey, Hampshire and Dorset. It also provides regional services in Devon, Somerset, Berkshire, and Wiltshire and on the Isle of Wight. The area of operation, essentially the former South Western division of Network SouthEast, is also roughly that of the pre-1923 London and South Western Railway (excluding everything west of Exeter). The Stagecoach Group took over the franchise on the privatisation of British Rail in 1996 and retained it in 2004 and again in 2007 making it, along with Chiltern Railways, Virgin Trains and First Great Western, the longest-running franchise. It is the largest passenger franchise in the UK and is a particularly complex operation due to the large number and variety of services.
- 1 History
- 2 Train services
- 3 Routes
- 4 Ticketing
- 5 Performance
- 6 Rolling stock details
- 7 Rolling stock
- 8 Depots
- 9 See also
- 10 External links
- 11 References
In 1995 the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising awarded the South West Trains franchise to Stagecoach. Operations started on 4 February 1996. South West Trains' first train, the 05:10 Twickenham to London Waterloo, was the first privatised scheduled train to operate for 48 years.
In April 2001 the Strategic Rail Authority awarded Stagecoach a new franchise after it beat bids from First/NedRailways and Sea Containers. The franchise was originally to run for twenty years, but in 2002 the Strategic Rail Authority changed the way it wanted investment funded, and South West Trains was awarded a three-year franchise starting on 1 February 2004.
In December 2005 the Department for Transport announced that Arriva, First, MTR/Sea Containers, National Express and Stagecoach had been shortlisted to tender for the new South Western franchise, which combined the South West Trains and Island Line Trains franchises, National Express later pulling out. In September 2006 the Department for Transport awarded the franchise to Stagecoach, the new franchise starting on 4 February 2007 for a period of ten years. In March 2013 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the franchise would be extended until 27 April 2019.
In the early days of its franchise, SWT gained notoriety for severe service cuts owing to driver shortages but it later made significant improvements to the network, including replacing much of the rolling stock, refurbishing stations, making stations accessible to disabled passengers, and improving customer information. During the early 2000s, improvements included the introduction of new rail services and the reopening of Chandler's Ford station in Hampshire.
On 12 December 2004 the company completely recast its timetable for the first time since 1967, in an attempt to bring service provision into line with changing demand and to take into account the different characteristics of modern rolling stock, with the intention that this would improve reliability and punctuality across the network.
A smoking ban on all SWT services was introduced from May 2004, partly in response to a fire caused by a cigarette left near a heater under a seat, and also pre-empting the public smoking ban introduced two years later.
South West Trains is the key operator for Surrey, Hampshire and Dorset, and also serves London, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Somerset and Devon. Its services are described below.
Most SWT services run on electrified lines using the 750 V DC third-rail system. There is a diesel fleet for services on the West of England line to Salisbury, Exeter and Bristol, which is unelectrified beyond Worting Jn, and for Salisbury - Romsey via Southampton services, which operate over unelectrified lines between Salisbury and Redbridge and Eastleigh and Romsey. SWT operates almost 1,700 trains per day. Performance improved after the timetable was completely restructured in December 2004, and following the introduction of a unified Network Rail and SWT control centre at Waterloo to improve communication between the two organisations.
From Waterloo, SWT's London terminus, long-distance trains run to southern England, including the major coastal population centres of Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth; the company also operates many local services on suburban commuter lines in south-west London and Surrey. There are also trains to Reading, Exeter and Bristol, but these are not the principal fast services from London to those cities, which are operated from London Paddington by First Great Western.
As with most rail companies, non-folding bicycles are banned from peak-time trains to and from London. However, these restrictions apply only to cyclists boarding or alighting in the area bounded by Hook, Alton, Guildford, Reading and Dorking. The aim is to maximise available passenger space on the most crowded trains.
South West Trains also has Quiet Zones, similar to the Quiet Coaches on trains operated by certain other Train Operating Companies. Quiet Zones are available on most outer-suburban services and on some express services and are indicated by notices in the windows and signs on the doors. Passengers in these zones are requested not to use mobile phones or play music out loud.
South West Trains off-peak Monday to Saturday routes, with numbers of trains per hour, include:
- from Waterloo
- 2 to Hampton Court. Stopping at all Stations. Normally run by a class 455
- 2 to Dorking Stopping at all Stations. Normally run by a class 455
- 2 to Shepperton. Normally run by a class 455
- 2 to Chessington South. Normally run by a class 455
- 2 to Woking. Normally run by a class 455
- 2 to Alton. Normally run by a class 450
- 2 to Basingstoke. Normally run by a class 450
- 2 to Guildford via Cobham. Normally run by a class 455
- 2 to Guildford via Epsom. Normally run by a class 455
- 2 to Windsor and Eton Riverside. Normally run by a class 458/5
- 2 to Reading. Normally run by a class 458
- 2 to Weybridge via Staines-upon-Thames. Normally run by a class 450/5
- 2 round the Kingston Loop Line back to Waterloo via Kingston and Richmond. Normally run by a class 455
- 2 round the Kingston Loop back to Waterloo via Richmond and Kingston. Normally run by a class 455
- 2 round the Hounslow Loop Line back to Waterloo via Hounslow and Richmond. Normally run by a class 450/5
- 2 round the Hounslow Loop Line back to Waterloo via Richmond and Hounslow. Normally run by a class 450/5
- 2 to Portsmouth Harbour via Guildford. Normally run by classes 444 or 450
- 1 to Portsmouth and Southsea via Guildford. Normally run by classes 450 or 444
- 1 to Haslemere. Normally run by classes 450 or 444
- 1 to Portsmouth Harbour via Basingstoke. Normally run by a classes 450 or 444
- 2 to Weymouth. Mostly operated by class 444, however a 450 can sometimes appear on the route.
- 1 to Poole. Normally run by classes 450 or 444
- 1 to Salisbury. Normally run by a class 159
- 1 to Exeter St Davids. Normally run by a class 159, 3 Times a day this train divides at Salisbury with a portion running to Bristol Temple Meads
- Off-peak hours services not originating from London include:
- 1 Southampton Central to Portsmouth and Southsea. Normally run by a class 450
- 1 Salisbury to Romsey via Romsey and Southampton Central. Normally run by a class 158
- 2 Ascot to Guildford. Normally run by class 456
- 2 Brockenhurst to Lymington Pier. Normally run by a class 158 on weekdays and 450 on weekends.
The six main lines operated by SWT are:
- The South Western Main Line (SWML) to Southampton Central, Bournemouth and Weymouth (2 trains an hour through to Weymouth (1 fast and 1 semi-fast) and 1 train an hour to Poole (stopping) Mondays-Saturdays), with Sunday Bournemouth services extended to Poole.
- The Portsmouth Direct Line via Guildford and Haslemere: leaves the main line at Woking (4 trains per hour to Guildford, then 1 semi-fast service and 1 stopping service to Haslemere. The semi-fast service continues as a stopping service to Portsmouth. The fast services run approximately half-hourly Mondays-Saturdays, 2 trains per hour (1 fast, 1 stopping from Guildford) on Sundays).
- The West of England Main Line to Salisbury, Yeovil Junction and Exeter St Davids: leaves the main line at Basingstoke.
- Wessex Main Line (part): Salisbury to Bristol Temple Meads. This service originates from London Waterloo and divides at Salisbury.
- London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour via Basingstoke and Eastleigh (Hourly service off-peak Mondays-Saturdays, merges with the Poole train on Sundays).
- London Waterloo to Reading via Staines-upon-Thames and Ascot.
Suburban services diverge from the above routes. Taken in order westwards from Waterloo, travelling down the SWML, they are:
- Waterloo to Reading line: from Clapham Junction
- The Mole Valley Line, from Raynes Park to Dorking via Epsom
- The Kingston Loop Line, from New Malden (Main Line) to Twickenham (Reading Line)
- The New Guildford Line, to Guildford via Cobham from Surbiton. Travellers from Guildford to London can also travel via the main line through Woking.
- The Hampton Court branch, also from Surbiton
- The Alton branch, from Brookwood
- Southampton local lines: Salisbury to Romsey via Southampton Central and Chandler's Ford (previously this service ran to Totton)
- Lymington Branch Line (Brockenhurst to Lymington Pier)
- Island Line (Isle of Wight), Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin
- Southampton Central to Portsmouth and Southsea
Season tickets and Travelcards are also available to cover multi-day regular journeys. They are available in weekly, monthly and annual periods.
In May 2007, South West Trains introduced a new fare structure for all routes. The original peak prices and times were retained, with "off-peak" being redefined at a higher fare for services leaving after 11am for stations closer to London or arriving in Waterloo at or before mid-day for stations further away from London. Services after this period are now referred to as "Super Off-Peak" and attract similar prices to the old Off-Peak tickets.
In January 2008 SWT fares increased on average by 4.3%.
In 2009, ticket gates were installed at Waterloo to improve revenue protection.
The smartcard scheme for season tickets on the national rail system was extended in spring 2010 to cover the lines from Weymouth to Basingstoke and from Staines to Wokingham, and on the Isle of Wight, in addition to the current trial area between Staines and Windsor. It was also announced that SWT proposed to reduce operating hours at 24 of its ticket offices.
In May 2010 posters appeared at stations advertising that the extended smartcard scheme was now available for stations between Weymouth and Basingstoke. The smartcards SWT is using are branded StagecoachSmart in common with those being introduced on Stagecoach buses in Cambridgeshire and which Stagecoach plans to provide across its rail and bus operations.
Oyster pay-as-you-go, Travelcards and season tickets
Oyster pay-as-you-go is now available on all South West Trains routes within the Greater London area. Oyster cards holding season tickets have always been valid within the London Travelcard area, in the same way as normal paper Travelcards and season tickets.
In November 2010 the Department for Transport announced that passengers would be able to top up Oyster cards at all stations operated by South West Trains in the London Travelcard area from May 2011. SWT was the last rail company franchise not to offer this facility (except at Wimbledon and Richmond stations) for passengers using suburban rail services within the London Travelcard area.
South West Trains currently issues penalty fares for passengers travelling by train without a valid ticket. However, the company has planned to install at least one self-service ticket machine at each of its served stations in the bid to stop fare evasion.
The penalty fare is either £20 or double the travelled fare, whichever is greater. This does not apply at Chandler's Ford or the stations on the West of England Main Line west of Salisbury; this is due to the lack of ticket issuing facilities at those stations. Revenue Protection Officers employed by SWT travel the network and are visible at stations to enforce penalty fares and issue some tickets; aside from station ticket barriers, CCTV is used to combat ticketless travel and prevent assaults on members of staff and customers.
The South West Trains network has changed considerably since privatisation in 1996. It no longer serves West Croydon, Sutton, stations between Chichester and Brighton, or the mainline portion of Reading station. South West Trains does now serve stations to Bristol (introduced in 2004 to replace withdrawn Arriva Trains Wales services), Mottisfont and Dunbridge and Dean. Services beyond Exeter to Paignton, Plymouth and Penzance ceased in December 2009 so as to release stock for the hourly Waterloo - Exeter service.
Stagecoach, SWT's parent company, currently sells seats on some off-peak services under the Megatrain brand from Mondays to Saturdays. This uses a similar low-cost model to its Megabus service. Megatrain tickets are available on certain services expected to be lightly loaded. Tickets are generally between London Waterloo and other principal stations, and ticket-holders are assigned to a specific train.
Latest performance figures released by Network Rail for period 7 (2013/14) were 92.4% (Public Performance Measure - PPM) and 91.5% (Moving Annual Average - MAA) for the 12 months up to 12 October 2013.
Rolling stock details
In the early days of the franchise, South West Trains operated rolling stock inherited from British Rail. It applied its brand to the trains by modifying the Network SouthEast livery with an orange stripe, taking advantage of the similarity between the Network SouthEast livery and that of parent company Stagecoach.
The company later introduced new or refurbished trains, and has standardised on a set of three distinct liveries - mainly white for long-distance services, mainly blue for outer-suburban services, and mainly red for London commuter rail services. There are exceptions to this: most notably, the trains operating suburban rail services to Hounslow, Windsor and Weybridge via Staines-upon-Thames are in the blue livery as opposed to the red livery used on other services.
London Underground fleet
On the Island Line, the clearances of a tunnel under Ryde are insufficient for standard trains. As a consequence, former London Underground rolling stock has been used since the line was electrified. Since 1992, Class 483 trains have been used, of which five two-car units remain in service. They date from 1938. SWT took on this fleet when it was awarded the combined South West/Island Line franchise in 2007 (though Island Line as a separate franchise was also previously operated by a separate Stagecoach owned company.
The introduction of Desiro rolling stock built by Siemens was to replace the old Class 423 slam-door trains which were coming to the end of their useful lives, and which did not meet modern health and safety requirements. The introduction was delayed because of the additional power needs of this type of stock: Network Rail spent £1 billion upgrading the power supply to take account of this.
The new trains have on-board information systems and full air-conditioning. Their faster acceleration is counterbalanced by the need to dwell longer at each station, since they have fewer doors. In addition, the Desiros have many more components: all are computerised and subject to the possibility of breakdowns. It is estimated that the slam-door trains could achieve 60,000 miles (96,000 km) without breakdown; the Desiros an estimated 13,000 miles (20,800 km) but this is gradually improving.
The Desiro stock comes in two variants - Class 450 units which have four 20 m cars and are mainly used on suburban and outer-suburban services, and Class 444 units which have five 23 m cars as well as intercity-style door layouts and are used on longer-distance services to Weymouth.
- The 450 Desiro Fleet includes 450001-127.
- The 444 Desiro Fleet includes 444001-045.
British Rail EMUs (Class 455)
A full refurbishment programme started in 2004 on the fleet of 91 four-car units and was completed in March 2008. Modifications included a new 2+2 seating layout with high-back seats, CCTV, cycle storage, wheelchair space, doors that open further to allow for faster alighting, and additional passenger information systems. All units are now painted in a new red "Metro" version of the SWT livery.
British Rail EMUs (Class 456)
All twenty-four Class 456 2-car EMUs have been transferred from Southern to SWT, with the first units entering SWT service on 23 March 2014. These 1990s-built units are compatible with the existing Class 455 fleet. All will eventually be refurbished and repainted into the red "Metro" livery, although some have entered service in debranded Southern livery. They will be coupled to certain pairs of Class 455 sets to form 10-car trains, increasing capacity on some local services in and out of Waterloo.
Juniper fleet (Class 458)
Thirty of these four-car units were ordered by South West Trains in 1998, to create extra capacity and to replace some of the ageing Class 411 (4-CEP) trains, which at the time were on short-term lease. Deliveries of these trains began in 1998.
The class suffered major technical problems, so in the event none of the older trains were withdrawn from service at that time. It was six more years, in 2004, before the full fleet was in service. In 2003 and 2004, reliability was so poor that, although they were only six years old, South West Trains decided that the units should be replaced by 2005 with the newer Class 450 Desiro units. Only a handful of units were required each day to help maintain services from Waterloo to Reading, and these had been expected to cease after 31 July 2006, when the lease with the rolling stock company expired. An application by SWT to extend this by six months was refused, as the class did not meet all the requirements of disability legislation.
However, later it was decided that, on or before the start of the new franchise in February 2007, the class would be reinstated and take over all operations on the Waterloo to Reading line, indirectly covering the loss of the Class 442s. They have been fitted with new, larger destination screens that comply with the disability legislation, but the trains still fall foul in some other areas, such as the height of the door-open buttons.
All 30 Class 458 trains are to be split up and the 120 vehicles reconfigured into 36 five-car sets, incorporating 60 extra vehicles from the mechanically similar Class 460s formerly used on Gatwick Express services. The five-car sets will be designated Class 458/5 and coupled together to form ten-car trains from 2014.
The first two of the 5-car sets were delivered in October 2013, and are undergoing testing ahead of the introduction of the first 10-car train into service in December 2013. Passenger service started in March 2014.
The 159/1s were converted at Wabtec, Doncaster from Class 158s, received from First TransPennine Express in exchange for Class 170s. Eleven further two-carriage 158s were received from First TransPennine Express, which were also refurbished at Wabtec.
Although South West Trains does not operate locomotive-hauled services, until 2009 it maintained three Class 73 locomotives for recovery duties. Locomotive 73109 had been in service with SWT since the start of the franchise; the other two, 73201 and 73235, were acquired from Gatwick Express in 2005. 73235 is now the only one of the three locomotives to be owned by South West Trains. The SWT 73s are soon to undergo a major overhaul, including a new livery and new Dellner couplers to enable the loco to couple to the fleet's Desiro trains.
|Class 456||Electric multiple unit(EMU)||24||To be transferred from Southern in 2014, allowing 10-car trains to be formed. Will be extensively refurbished before entering service.|
|Class 458/5||36||120 x Class 458 & 60 x Class 460 carriages to form 36 x 5-car sets
from 2013 allowing SWT to run 10-car trains
|Class 170 Turbostar||DMU||9||July 2007||8 transferred to First TransPennine Express, 1 to Southern where it was converted to a Class 171|
|Class 411 (4Cep)||EMU||29||May 2005||Some preserved|
|Class 412 (4Bep)||7||May 2005||Some preserved|
|Class 421 (4Cig)||32||May 2005||Two were retained for heritage operations on the Lymington Branch Line until May 2010, as 3Cig units. These units have been preserved and lengthened back to 4 coaches. Some others preserved|
|Class 421 (3Cig)||2||May 2010||421497 preserved to the Mid Norfolk Railway.
421498 preserved by the Epping Ongar Railway.
|Class 423 (4Vep)||66||May 2005||Some preserved|
|Class 442 (5Wes) Wessex Electric||24||February 2007||Withdrawn in favour of Class 444 Desiro units. Now operating Gatwick Express/Southern services.|
|Class 960||DMU||1||March 2009||Preserved on Swanage Railway|
South West Trains is also planning to procure 135 additional carriages for suburban services. These trains could be in service by 2016.
Wessex Electrics Fleet
These units (Class 442) were initially dedicated to the Weymouth line but, through the 1990s, began to be operated on the London to Portsmouth direct line also. In preparation for the Class 444 and Class 450 "Desiro" units taking over from the slam-door fleet, the Wessex Electrics were withdrawn from Portsmouth line services and were again wholly dedicated to the Weymouth line.
South West Trains announced that it would be withdrawing these units, and they last ran on 3 February 2007. This move also coincided with SWT reinstating all Class 458s for the Waterloo-Reading line. As a result, the Class 444s inherited the Waterloo - Weymouth route and the Class 450s took over some Portsmouth Harbour services, while the 442s went into storage at Eastleigh. In 2008, Southern leased these trains for its Gatwick Express service, and is now operating them on services from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport and Brighton.
In 2000, South West Trains acquired eight 2-car Class 170/3 units to supplement its existing Class 159 fleet. They were used on London to Salisbury services as well as a new Southampton local service, and on Reading to Basingstoke services. They were sometimes pressed into use on Waterloo-Exeter services but, as they were not fitted with end gangways for catering or selective door opening for the short platforms at some stations, this was not a regular route.
From late 2006 to mid-2007, the Class 170s were gradually transferred to First TransPennine Express in exchange for a larger number of Class 158 units, to expand and standardise the fleet. One, 170392, originally built to Southern specifications but taken over by SWT soon after its construction, went to Southern and was converted to a Class 171.
The final slam-door train on regular passenger services ran from London Waterloo to Bournemouth on 26 May 2005 with units 421396, 423536 and 421398. Some slam-door units have been preserved on heritage railways and three were retained by SWT for operations on the Lymington Branch Line and for special duties.
Services on the Lymington branch were operated as a "heritage" operation using one of two refurbished 3Cig units, nos. 421497 and 421498. The two units were repainted in their original liveries, one in classic Southern Region green and the other in British Rail blue and grey, and went into service on 12 May 2005. Following the May 2010 timetable change, these have now been replaced on the Lymington branch by Class 158 units during the week and Class 450 units at the weekend.
Preserved SWT trains
Of the Classes 411, 412, 421 and 423 slam-door trains, several complete former SWT units have been preserved.
- Class 411 411198 at Dartmoor Railway
- Class 412 412311 and 422315 at Eden Valley Railway
- Class 412 412325 at East Kent Railway (heritage)
- Class 421 421392 and 421499 at Dean Forest Railway
- Class 421 421393 at Great Central Railway
- Class 421 421399 at Dartmoor Railway
- Class 421 421497 at Mid-Norfolk Railway
- Class 421 421498 at Epping Ongar Railway
- Class 423 423417 at Bluebell Railway, currently at Clapham Junction yard awaiting repair.
Diagrams of operational trains
Use of Class 159s by UK Railtours
In June 2013, charter operator UK Railtours ran an excursion train from Waterloo to Axminster (for the Seaton Tramway) for the first time using a Class 159 DMU as opposed to a locomotive hauled train that is typically used. It was a huge success that UK Railtours have run many more 159 excursions since. This follows on from their success with the 125 Specials. For UK Railtours it is significantly cheaper for them to use a Class 159 unit than a locomotive hauled train since the latter needs to be hired from a rolling stock owner and thus the fares are higher. Additionally the use of a 159 requires less staff and shorter station dwell times due to the swing plug doors as opposed to slam doors on loco-hauled trains and HSTs. This therefore reduces the fares further.
Wimbledon Traincare depot
Wimbledon Traincare depot is one of Europe's most advanced train servicing complexes. It is between Wimbledon and Earlsfield stations, on the main line to Waterloo, next to the landmark Wimbledon Train Viaduct.
Bournemouth Traincare Depot
Bournemouth train care depot is South West of Bournemouth railway station, occupying the approach to the former Bournemouth West Station. Up until their withdrawal in February 2007, the depot was home to the Class 442 (5Wes) Wessex Electrics. The branch turns off at Branksome railway station and trains can be seen stopping at platform 2 and reversing into the depot.
Clapham Traincare depot
Clapham Junction depot provides stabling for the fleet. It does not carry out any maintenance but does have a carriage washer that is regularly used.
Northam Traincare Depot
Northam Traincare Depot was built by Siemens in 2002 as the home depot for the Desiro fleet as part of a 20-year maintenance contract. It is located south of St Denys railway station and is near Southampton Football Club's St Mary's Stadium.
Salisbury Traincare Depot
Salisbury depot provides servicing for South West Trains' diesel fleet.
Fratton Traincare Depot
Fratton Traincare Depot sits on the South Coast in Portsmouth. The Depot occupies the site alongside Fratton station, with two of the sidings right next to Goldsmith Avenue. It has a carriage washer and is the fuelling point for the 158s and 159s. The Depot has a Train Shed with two pitted roads for maintenance of rolling stock. Class 444 and 450 units berth overnight there, and there are stabling sidings and bay platforms at Portsmouth & Southsea station all of which come under the control of the Depot at Night.
Farnham Traincare Depot
Farnham depot, in Weydon Lane, was opened by the Southern Railway at the time of the electrification of the Portsmouth and Alton lines in 1937. It was refurbished for the introduction of modern units when slam-door trains were replaced circa 2005. At the same time, disused quarry and ballast dump sidings behind the carriage shed were removed and a number of outdoor sidings were laid for overnight storage and servicing of units.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to South West Trains.|
- South West Trains
- South West Trains JourneyCheck
- Island Line Trains
- Network map
- South West Trains Fleet
- Pictures around the SWT network
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As part of British Rail
|Operator of South West franchise
1996 - 2007
South West Trains
South Western franchise
Island Line franchise
|Operator of South Western franchise
2007 - present
South West Trains
South West franchise