South Western Railway (SWR) is looking forward to welcoming customers back to a more punctual, reliable and energy efficient network, following a year-long programme of extensive improvements made possible by low passenger numbers.
Since the first national lockdown in spring last year, passenger numbers on SWR’s network have remained consistently low compared to pre-pandemic levels. However, SWR has continued to run reliable services for people who need to travel and stepped up cleaning regimes to keep customers safe.
At the same time, SWR took the opportunity to work on initiatives that would have otherwise taken much longer to deliver, and created more disruption, had they been attempted when passenger numbers were at 100 per cent.
To list a few:
- 1456 train doors have been checked – and, if necessary, fixed. Doors that don’t open and close safely and smoothly can cause delays.
- Seven “Duty Control Managers” have been employed to lead the Control Room and make journeys smoother.
- 48 stations have been completely repainted, brightening up customers’ journeys.
- 280 new benches have been rolled out, 40 new waiting shelters have been installed across 30 different stations and 15 waiting rooms have been refurbished, allowing for a more comfortable passenger experience.
- All 187 SWR stations now have Wi-Fi, and there has been a 23 per cent increase in onboard connectivity speeds, meaning better access to the internet.
- 10 stations have been made more accessible, and safer, via automatic doors, smoother pavements, sturdier handrails, new ramps, and anti-slip tactiles and treads.
- 160 additional cleaning staff are helping to keep trains and stations clean, with thousands of litres of a long lasting disinfectant being used.
- And 16,180 light bulbs have been changed to LEDs, reducing energy use across the network by 21 per cent.
This comes as RMT members voted overwhelmingly for a deal to end the long-running dispute over the role of the guard last month, which had caused significant disruption to customers.
Claire Mann, SWR’s Managing Director, said:
“While our customers were away, we’ve taken every single opportunity to improve our services.
“We have made real progress and continue to work hard to transform what is one of Europe’s busiest networks. We’re investing heavily in our network, our people, and our local areas to improve the quality, safety, and reliability of our services, and better meet the needs of customers and our communities.
“We exist to connect people – with family, with friends, with employment, with experiences, and with opportunities – and we can’t wait to welcome our customers back to the railway as soon as they are ready to travel with us again.”