WEYMOUTH TO RETAIN TWICE-HOURLY WATERLOO SERVICES
SOUTH WESTERN Railway intends to reverse plans to remove some station calls and cut the direct Weymouth to Waterloo frequency from two trains per hour (tph) to one in December following a public consultation on its plans.
SWR consulted on its proposed timetables last autumn, which made a number of amendments to calling patterns, in particular to achieve journey time reductions. Outlining the feedback it received, SWR says the decision to retain certain station calls in the proposed faster services has led to ‘some difficult trade-offs between connectivity and journey times’. The operator adds it has been discussing changes to its Train Service Specification with the Department for Transport, and its timetables will also need to be validated by Network Rail. One notable proposal was for SWR to divert one of the two Weymouth to London services each hour to Portsmouth, meaning some stations west of Bournemouth would lose direct services to the capital. This plan will be scrapped, with a second London service maintained.
SWR plans to extend the practice of services splitting and joining at Southampton to off-peak periods, with one of the two portions running fast to Bournemouth and Poole then onto Weymouth and the second calling at selected stations to Poole.
SWR says the previously proposed 14-minute journey time reduction from Weymouth to London will now be a 10-minute reduction for the faster service. The new service from Portsmouth will instead run as far as Bournemouth, with Sway, Hinton Admiral and Ashurst New Forest only receiving direct London trains at peak periods.
CLAPHAM CALL CONTROVERSY
A key element of SWR’s plans to increase capacity was a cut in peak calls at Clapham Junction. Despite calls for more services to stop here, SWR is pressing ahead with these plans, with two fewer morning and four fewer evening peak calls. However, the operator says this will allow it to run seven and 12 additional services into Waterloo in the morning and evening peaks respectively, providing a larger overall capacity increase.
Consultees on the West of England line were also asked about whether a stop at Woking or Clapham Junction was preferred. Feedback has led to both being retained outside peak periods and at weekends, although SWR cautions this will impact proposed journey time reductions. Substantial changes to consulted proposals on the Windsor lines include the retention of direct Waterloo to Weybridge services via Hounslow, at the expense of a proposal to double the off-peak Waterloo to Windsor service from 2tph to 4tph. This will also have the benefit of avoiding increased use of Datchet level crossing, which was a concern raised, although at peak times Windsor will see 4tph.
Proposals to move calls at Wraysbury and Sunnymeads to services via Hounslow are also reversed and these will be retained in the service via Richmond, at the expense of a journey time improvement here.
Other plans to cut calls at Queenstown Road from 8tph to 4ph and peak calls at Martins Heron from 4tph to 2tph are reversed, as are plans to cut stops at Whitton from faster morning peak services to London. A direct service from Frimley, Camberley and Bagshot to Waterloo in the peak will be retained with three direct services in both the morning and evening; SWR originally proposed passengers should change at Ash Vale.
Another unpopular move was to cut peak calls at Hook and Winchfield to allow more stops at Fleet and Farnborough. SWR’s proposed final outcome is for an increase to 6tph at Farnborough but with 4tph maintained at the other three stations.