South Western Railway "not sustainable in the long term"

South Western Railway "not sustainable in the long term"

Published by Henrietta Creasey at 12:19pm 22nd January 2020. (Updated at 1:50pm 22nd January 2020)

2 minute read

The Transport Secretary has issued a statement to parliament on the train operator.

The financial performance of South Western Railway (SWR) has been judged as "significantly below expectation" since the franchise began in August 2017.

Grant Shapps has given a written statement to MP's blaming "poor operational performance, combined with slower revenue growth."

He has warned that whilst  SWR has "not yet failed to meet their financial commitments", his department "must prepare suitable contingency measures".


  • A new short term-term contract could be issued to SWR's owners - FirstGroup and MTR .
  • The services run by SWR could be transferred to the Operator of Last Resort, a public sector operator wholly owned by the government department.

Mr Shapps stressed that there will be no impact on SWR services or staff.

South Western Railway Train 2018
South Western Railway could be nationalised.

Filings at Companies House published earlier this month showed the business lost £137m in the year to March 2019 and was in danger of going bust before the end of this year.


Industry figures show that, between 8 December and 4 January, SWR services were, on average, seven percent less likely to stop at stations within one minute of the timetable than Britain's other operators.

Operational difficulties have been exacerbated by an ongoing strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union in a dispute over guards on trains.

SWR passengers have faced misery and delays for more than two years as a series of walkouts have hit services.


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