London News & Search
The boss of the new firm operating services at Waterloo station admitted he has had “a challenging couple of weeks” following repeated delays at the busy transport hub.
South Western Railway (SWR) services to and from the station, the busiest in Britain, were crippled by delays following the completion of multimillion-pound engineering works.
The new operator took control of the franchise on August 20 as the three-week project, which affected thousands of commuters in the capital, was being carried out at the station.
Signalling problems have being occurring repeatedly since the station was reopened last week, with SWR’s managing director Andy Mellors admitting the transition had been “challenging”.
But he added: “we’re now looking to the future.”
His comments came as the firm unveiled its first fully-liveried train at the station’s former international terminal, which was returned to passenger use for the first time in a decade as part of the expansion project.
“We are delighted to introduce our new brand today with the first fully-liveried train pulling into the Waterloo international terminal – a fitting setting for such an event as it will be an integral space for our plans to deliver longer trains and more capacity for passengers,” Mr Mellors said.
“Between now and 2024, we will be investing more than £1.2 billion on new and refurbished trains, station improvement projects and the simplification of tickets. We are eager to roll out these improvements which will make journeys better for our customers across the network.”
SWR is a joint venture between Stagecoach and Chinese firm MTR. It was handed a seven-year contract to run services.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling described the launch as “the start of a new era”.
He said: “We are determined to improve journeys for passengers and under this deal passengers on South Western Railway will benefit from faster journeys, 90 new trains and more than 50,000 extra seats in and out of Waterloo each day during rush hour.
“We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century and alongside this massive investment in services we are also delivering major upgrades to Waterloo station.”
It was announced last week that SWR workers are to be balloted for strikes in a dispute over the role of guards.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will vote on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action.
The union said the company had failed to give assurances over the future of guards.
SWR insisted the dispute is “unnecessary”, adding: “We have made it perfectly clear that we plan to retain a second person on our services.”
London News & Search