Published: January 26, 2020 | Updated: January 26, 2020

We’ll keep South Western Railway on track, vow MPs on all-party parliamentary group

By Andrew Diprose, editor

A newly elected Dorset MP is promising ‘decisive action’ to hold South Western Railway to account.

West Dorset MP Chris Loder is chairing a new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for South Western Railway.

MP’s on the new group including West Dorset MP, Chris Loder (centre).

It has 15 MPs and is the first of its kind.

The MPs have vowed to take a direct and decisive role in improving the train service for constituents across the South West, including Dorset, and South London.

The group will examine the entire railway business, including franchisees, and the role that the Department for Transport, the network operator (Network Rail), other industry businesses and transport authorities play to deliver the train service on the railway that operates in and out of London Waterloo.

Scrutiny will extend to the geographical area from London Waterloo to Portsmouth, Weymouth, Exeter, Bristol and Reading, as well as the network and connecting lines within these points.

At the meeting in Westminster, which was chaired by Mr Loder, the group agreed five objectives for the network:

  • Capacity: Timetable, frequency, capacity, journey time, train and bus connections and service availability. Objective: adequate rail capacity that meets demand.
  • Future: Investment, strategy, industry structure, Route Study, franchise sustainability, franchise mapping and infrastructure enhancements. Objective: future investment and organisation delivers the service that constituents require and expect.
  • Passenger Service: Comfort, provision of information, accessibility, station services provision, WiFi provision, recompense, refreshments, quality of train refurbishment. Objective: passenger experience meets expectations.
  • Performance: Operating Performance, service delivery, train service contingencies and resources. Objective: reliable and punctual train services delivered for passengers.
  • Value: Taxpayer value for money, delivery of franchise obligations, Network Rail use of its Government funding. Objective: achieving value for money for passenger and taxpayer.

Mr Loder said: “Our train service has been in decline for several years now and we need to take decisive action to ensure we hold rail businesses to account for our constituents and we are now doing just that.”

A South Western Railway spokesperson told Dorset Biz News: “We look forward to working with the APPG and providing them with more detail on our plans to improve performance, boost capacity and introduce new trains on our busy network.”