South West Trains
4 Feb 1996 − 31 Jan 2004
1 Feb 2004 − 3 Feb 2007
4 Feb 2007 – 24 June 2017 
|Main region(s):||Greater London, Surrey, Hampshire, Isle of Wight & Dorset|
|Other region(s):||Berkshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon|
361 (367 including Island Line)
|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 in Surrey, Hampshire and Dorset. It also provides regional services in Devon, Somerset, Berkshire, and Wiltshire and on the Isle of Wight through its Island Line Trains subsidiary.
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). 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 and Great Western Railway, the longest-running franchise. The bulk of its train services pass through the busiest section of the UK's domestic rail network at Clapham Junction.
- 1 History
- 2 Services
- 3 Ticketing
- 4 Performance
- 5 Rolling stock
- 5.1 Electric
- 5.2 Diesel
- 5.3 Locomotives
- 5.4 Current fleet
- 5.5 Future fleet
- 5.6 Past fleet
- 6 Depots
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
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 2001 franchises awarded were (as promulgated) to run for twenty years but in 2002 the Strategic Rail Authority reduced the duration of franchises and South West Trains was awarded a three-year franchise starting on 1 February 2004.
In December 2005 the Department for Transport (DfT) 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 withdrew. 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 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.
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.
On 12 December 2004 the company completely recast its timetable, for the first time in the South West region 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.
In March 2013 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the DfT were in talks with Stagecoach to extend the franchise until 27 April 2019. However, in July 2015 Stagecoach confirmed talks had failed and the franchise would be opened up for competition, ending in February 2017 as originally scheduled.
South West Trains is the key operator for western 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 the unelectrified track beyond Worting Junction just west of Basingstoke, and for Salisbury to Southampton via Romsey services, which serve Salisbury, Redbridge, Eastleigh, Romsey. SWT operates almost 1,700 trains per day.
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. 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 Great Western Railway. The majority of its passengers are on suburban commuter lines in inner and south-west London, Surrey, east Berkshire, and north-east Hampshire.
Since privatisation in 1996, the network has changed considerably. It no longer serves West Croydon, Sutton, 'Coastway' stations between Chichester and Brighton, or the faster line portion of Reading station. South West Trains serves stations to Bristol (introduced in 2004 to replace withdrawn Arriva Trains Wales services), Mottisfont and Dunbridge and Dean. Its longstanding rival service against the Paddington (Great Western) providers beyond Exeter (to Paignton, Plymouth and Penzance) ceased in December 2009 so as to release stock for the hourly shortest possible London (thus Waterloo) to Exeter service.
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 operate suburban and long-distance trains, main destinations include: London Waterloo, Clapham Junction, Barnes, Richmond, Twickenham, Hounslow, Ascot, Staines-upon-Thames, Reading, Windsor & Eton Riverside, Kingston, Raynes Park, Motspur Park, New Malden, Chessington South, Surbiton, Leatherhead, Weybridge, Dorking, Effingham Junction, Woking, Guildford, Aldershot, Alton, Farnborough (Main), Fleet, Basingstoke, Haslemere, Andover, Winchester, Eastleigh, Southampton Central, Romsey, Salisbury, Fareham, Portsmouth & Southsea, Brockenhurst, Portsmouth Harbour, Bournemouth, Westbury, Bristol Temple Meads, Weymouth, Yeovil Junction and Exeter St Davids.
The seven 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.
- Heart of Wessex Line (part): Yeovil Junction to Yeovil Pen Mill / Frome. This service originates from London Waterloo and divides at Yeovil Junction.
- 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, Ascot and Wokingham.
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 also serves the Mid Hants Railway.
- 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
London Travelcards are available and widely used for journeys into Greater London beyond any of the South West Trains stations. They are valid on London buses, Tramlink, Docklands Light Railway, London Underground and national rail services within the London travelcard area. All tickets and (London) Travelcards are available on weekly, monthly and annual bases (such tickets are traditionally known as season tickets), a pre-requisite for which is a passport-sized photograph for a booking hall to issue a nationally valid railcard. All ticket pricing structures are regulated by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
Daily tickets fall into four categories: Peak 'Anytime', Off Peak, Super Off Peak and Advance (pre-booked, long distance). These are broken down into whether the user requires a Single, Return (valid for one calendar month) or a Day Return.
Oyster pay-as-you-go can be used on services within Greater London. Oyster cards holding season tickets are accepted 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 to offer this facility (except at Wimbledon and Richmond stations) for passengers using suburban rail services within the London Travelcard area.
The smartcard scheme for tickets on the national rail system was extended in early 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.
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. In 2009, ticket gates were installed at Waterloo to improve revenue protection.
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 5 (2014/15) were 88.2% (Public Performance Measure - PPM) and 88.9% (Moving Annual Average - MAA) for the 12 months up to 16 August 2014.
In January 2016 South West Trains created controversy when they were forced to apologise for late trains 650 separate times in a single week.
Future of the franchise
On 21 January 2016 Transport for London and the Department for Transport announced their intention for TfL to eventually take over the London suburban parts of the franchise, to form a new suburban metro service.
The Department for Transport issued invitations to tender for the franchise in July 2016, with bids due by 7 September. Stagecoach and a FirstGroup/MTR Corporation joint venture have been shortlisted to bid for the new franchise. The successful bidder is due to be announced in February 2017.
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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.
The introduction of Desiro rolling stock built by Siemens was to replace the old Class 411, Class 412, Class 421 and 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.
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 and Portsmouth Harbour.
British Rail EMUs (Class 455)
South West Trains operates a fleet of Class 455 metro-style commuter trains on services from London Waterloo to Shepperton, Hampton Court, Woking, Guildford, Dorking and Chessington, as well as services on the Kingston and Hounslow loops and occasionally on Windsor line services. These were built for British Rail.
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 have been refurbished and repainted into the red "Metro" livery, although they did enter 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 458/0 - 458/5)
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 end, 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 underwent testing ahead of the introduction of the first 10-car train into service in December 2013. Passenger service started in March 2014.
All Class 458/0 trains have now been withdrawn, with the majority of Class 458/5 trains in service, and the rest being tested or being finished.
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.
Class 159s have on occasion been used for railtours.
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||Image||Type||Top speed||Carriages||Number||Routes operated||Built|
|Class 73 locomotive||Electro-diesel||90||145||N/A||1||Thunderbird Locomotive||1962, 1965-1967|
|Class 158 Express Sprinter||DMU||90||145||2||10||London Waterloo - Salisbury / Exeter St Davids (Occasionally) / Bristol Temple Meads
Exeter St Davids - Honiton / Axminster (Weekday service)
Romsey - Salisbury via Southampton Central
Brockenhurst - Lymington Pier (Weekday services)
|Class 159 South Western Turbo||DMU||90||145||3||30||West of England / Heart of Wessex / Wessex Main Lines:
London Waterloo - Salisbury / Bristol Temple Meads / Exeter St Davids / Yeovil Pen Mill / Frome
Portsmouth Harbour - Basingstoke (Morning Service)
Portsmouth Harbour - Southampton Central (Occasionally)
159/1 Converted 2006−2007
|Class 444 Desiro||EMU||100||160||5||45||Main Line Routes:
London Waterloo - Poole / Weymouth
|Class 450 Desiro||EMU||100||160||4||127||Main Line Routes: London Waterloo - Portsmouth Harbour (Shared with Class 444s weekdays and Sundays)/ Alton / Basingstoke / Poole (Occasionally) / Reading
Southampton Central - Portsmouth & Southsea
Brockenhurst - Lymington Pier (Weekend services)
|Class 455||EMU||75||120||4||91||Inner Suburban Routes:
London Waterloo - Shepperton / Hampton Court / Woking / London Waterloo via Hounslow /London Waterloo via Strawberry Hill / Dorking / Guildford via Oxshott or Epsom / Chessington South / Windsor & Eton Riverside
|Class 456||EMU||75||120||2||24||Currently used on suburban services in conjunction with services operated by Class 455 units to make 8 & 10 coach trains.||1990-1991|
|Class 458/5 (5Jop) Juniper (Originally class 460)||EMU||75||120||5||36||Outer Suburban Services:||2012-2015
(1998-2002 as Class 458/0)
(2000-2001 as Class 460)
|Class 483||EMU||45||72.5||2||6||Ryde Pier Head - Shanklin||1938
1989 - 1992 (refurbished)
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed (mph)||Carriages||Number||Notes||Built|
|Class 707 Desiro City||EMU||100||5||30||Desiro City units based on Class 700||2016-2017|
Former units operated by South West Trains include:
|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||One unit has been preserved.|
|Class 412 (4Bep)||7||May 2005||Three units have been 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. One other unit has been 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||423417 preserved by the Bluebell Railway.|
|Class 442 (5Wes) Wessex Electric||24||February 2007||Withdrawn in favour of Class 444 Desiro units. Now operating Gatwick Express/Southern services, although being phased out.|
|Class 960||DMU||1||March 2009||Preserved on Swanage Railway|
|Class 458/0 (4Jop) Juniper||EMU||30||2013-15||Converted to 458/5|
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 now operates 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.
Of the Classes 411, 412, 421 and 423 slam-door trains, several complete former SWT units have been preserved.
- Class 411 411198 at Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway
- Class 412 412311 and 422315 at Eden Valley Railway
- Class 412 412325 at East Kent 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.
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 Wimbledon railway 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 Desiro fleet.
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.
Effingham traincare depot
Located next to Effingham Junction Railway Station the Depot is used for the berthing of MPV Multipurpose Vehicles . The Depot has 2 Pit Roads and a Fuel Point.
Salisbury traincare depot
Salisbury depot provides servicing for South West Trains' diesel fleet.
Fratton traincare depot
Fratton traincare depot is in central Portsea Island. The depot occupies a site alongside Fratton station, with four of the sidings 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. Stabling sidings and bay platforms at Portsmouth & Southsea station are co-ordinated from the depot.
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.
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Of all of them, the most explicit suggestion is that all the inner London services which form part of the South West franchise will be passed to TfL – explicit because the consultation confirms that such a change cannot happen in 2017, but that a transfer in 2019 would be possible thanks to a breakpoint in the franchise, which is currently out to tender.
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