South West Trains to be compensated for Waterloo upgrade works… but commuters get no extra cash

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South West Trains will not lose out from August’s rail chaos at Waterloo, despite thousands of passengers being denied compensation. 

Commuters have been left outraged as it emerged the train operator will not be hit financially from the Waterloo station upgrade works.

The station, which is the UK’s busiest, has seen hectic crowds during evening rush hour this week as 10 platforms are shut and services severely cut.

Disruption will last for nearly a month until August 29 as engineers work on Network Rail’s £800 million redevelopment project to lengthen platforms for longer trains.

Ahead of the works, furious commuters accused South West Trains of “theft” after learning the rail company does not plan to compensate season ticket holders for the reduced services.

No special compensation will apply and passengers can only claim when there has been “severe disruption”.

Delays: Crowds wait for information at Waterloo station (@B3LL3W)

But asked whether the operator itself will be compensated during the disruption, South West Trains told the Standard: “Well-established arrangements are in place to ensure train operators are no better or worse off financially as a result of disruptive work required to be carried out by Network Rail. 

“This takes account not only of lost passenger revenue, but additional costs incurred by operators, such as making alternative travel arrangements for passengers, for example replacement buses, and providing extra staff at stations to help customers.”

South West Trains added: “During the extensive Waterloo works, South West Trains has arranged for 1000 extra staff at its stations and has made arrangements for Transport for London and many other train operators to accept its tickets. 

“The financial arrangements in place are overseen by the independent regulator, the Office of Rail and Road, which has previously pointed out that the system benefits taxpayers through lower franchise costs and passengers through downward pressure on fares.”

The upgrade works beginning at Waterloo station. (PA)

Passenger compensation is dealt through a different system, the train firm said.

It comes as a petition calling on compensation for season ticket holders during the August works has reached more than 1,000 signatures.

Alison Bunce, who created the petition, said the fact that South West Trains will not be worse off is “galling to say the least”.

She told the Standard: “If they are not allowed to be out of pocket, could compensation for customers not have been built into that somehow?”

Andy, 31, who travels into St James’ Park from Surrey, said he bought an annual season ticket last September without knowing about the planned works.

“I bought my season ticket in September 2016, expecting 12 months good service in exchange for £3,900. At no point of sale was I informed by SWT of the planned works for Waterloo in August.

“SWT have without agreement significantly varied the contract I entered in to when I bought my season ticket.

“They are sitting on compensation which should be for passengers.”

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