South West Trains - South West Trains Changes - B

South West Trains - B
South West Trains Changes
From May 2004, a smoking ban on all SWT services was introduced; this move, which came partly in response to a fire caused by a cigarette left next to an under-seat heater during the previous year that raised safety concerns, also pre-empting the public smoking ban that was introduced two years later. Additional staff were deployed onboard trains to help enforce the change. At the time, most other commuter services had already banned smoking, and the measure was claimed by the Evening Standard to be popular with the majority of the travelling public.
On 12 December 2004, the company completely recast its timetable, the first occasion that such an exercise had been performed in the South West region since 1967. This was reportedly motivated by ambitions 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.
Further major changes to the timetable followed in subsequent years, including the restoration of services between Yeovil and Yeovil Pen Mill that had been withdrawn under the Beeching cuts.
During December 2005, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that Arriva, FirstGroup, 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 DfT awarded the franchise to Stagecoach, the new franchise starting on 4 February 2007, for a period of ten years.
Throughout the operation of the franchise, passenger numbers grew year on year, along with rapid spikes in numbers occurring in some years. While many franchises required government funding to sustain their services, SWT operated without any subsidies and was a profitable venture.
This outcome was largely on account of the high proportion of commuters that made frequent use of its services. One of the franchise's major ongoing concerns was the overcrowding that occurred on some services, particularly around rush hour, thus SWT's management paid considerable attention to increasing capacity when feasible.
Major measures performed by SWT to expand the network's capacity included the substantial redevelopment of its London Waterloo station and the procurement of new rolling stock. Christian Roth, SWT's engineering director, claimed in 2015 that the firm was in the process of delivering similar capacity improvements to the Thameslink programme at a tenth of the cost and a quarter of the time.
While some rival companies chose to pursue driver-only operated trains, eliminating the necessity of a guard, SWT senior manager Brian Souter promised to keep a guard on every service; one consequence of this agreement was strong relations between the company and the trade unions.
Further measures were also proposed by SWT; Tim Shoveller, the company's managing director, periodically spoke out on his desire to eventually introduce double-decker trains to serve its busiest commuter routes. While typically viewed as an effective means of increasing capacity, such ambitions were complicated by multiple factors, the principal of which that there were no double-deck trains in operation that were believed to be suitable for SWT's needs, thus likely necessitating the development of an original design.
Procuring a small fleet of bespoke rolling stock would certainly incur a steep price rise over conventional rolling stock, while handling the increased dwell times typically necessary when operating double-deck trains would also adversely impact the timetable, finally, no such rolling stock could be operated until the completion of track lowering across substantial portions of the network, particularly around bridges and tunnels, for sufficient headroom to be achieved.
Between 2012 and 2015, Stagecoach partnered with the British railway infrastructure owner Network Rail to jointly operate London Waterloo via a single management team that operated both tracks and trains in and around the station from a on-site joint control room.
At the time, the partnership was hailed as an advancement for rail operations, However, the arrangement was dissolved in 2015 without any official explanation, although anonymous insiders claimed the cause to be Network Rail's reluctance to devolve power over its centralised infrastructure to individual routes while Stagecoach desired a local decisions made in partnership.
South West Trains Overview
South West Trains Franchise(s):
South West
4 February 1996 – 3 February 2007
South Western
4 February 2007 – 20 August 2017
South West Trains Main region(s):
Greater London
Isle of Wight
South West Trains Other Region(s):
South West Trains Fleet Size: 373
1 Class 73 electro-diesel locomotive
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
24 Class 456 sets
36 Class 458 Juniper sets
2 Class 707 Desiro City sets
6 Class 483 sets
South West Trains Stations Called at: 213
South West Trains Stations Operated: 185 (including Island Line)
South West Trains Parent company: Stagecoach
South West Trains Reporting mark: SW
South West Trains Predecessor: Network SouthEast
Island Line (Island Line franchise)
South West Trains Successor: South Western Railway
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