Winchester and Chandler’s Ford MP Steve Brine has warned directors of South Western Railway that the company must “step up or step aside.” The MP has recently been elected as a Vice Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on South Western Railway, a cross-party group of MPs who’s constituents use the franchise. His warning comes after the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that South Western Railway’s financial statements suggested that the franchise was not sustainable.
Steve Brine said; “This is a very clear warning light on the dashboard of South Western Railway and the Secretary of State has a legal duty to do just that. The service has not been good enough and I said during the recent election I would use my experience to call for a franchise review which I am pleased to see is now on the cards. My constituents have suffered a poor service for too long; yes there has been industrial action but that is only half the story and South Western Railway now need to step up to the plate and change or step aside.”
In a written statement to Parliament, the Transport Secretary said “Under the Railways Act 1993, the Secretary of State for Transport has a legal requirement to ensure services that passengers depend on continue in any circumstance.”
“South Western Railway’s (SWR’s) recent financial statements have indicated that the franchise is not sustainable in the long term. Poor operational performance, combined with slower revenue growth, has led to the financial performance of SWR to be significantly below expectation since the franchise commenced in August 2017.”
He also criticised the ongoing dispute between the railway franchise and members of the RMT Union over guards on trains, which saw a month-long strike take place in December, leading to misery and delays for passengers travelling to and from Winchester.