Appointment of new Managing Director for South Western Railway

South western Railway are pleased to announce that Claire Mann has been appointed Managing Director of South Western Railway (‘SWR’) and will take up her post early in 2021.

Claire has more than two decades of experience in the transport sector and has held a number of senior leadership roles in the rail industry including Director for Docklands Light Railway (‘DLR’) at Transport for London (‘TfL’) where she led the DLR team; Operations and Safety Director at Arriva Trains Wales; General Manager East at the former First Great Western (now GWR) and Customer Service Director at London Overground. Most recently, she moved within TfL to become Director of Bus Operations, where she was responsible for the day-to-day delivery of the capital’s 9,200-strong bus fleet.

Mark Hopwood, currently Interim Managing Director of SWR, will return to be Managing Director of GWR on 4 January 2021. The role of SWR Managing Director will be covered by Mike Houghton, Chief Operating Officer, from 4 January 2021 until Claire joins.

Claire Mann said: “I’m really looking forward to joining the SWR team. This is a railway close to my heart and one that is vital for connecting so many diverse communities. I am passionate about delivering an excellent customer experience and building on the great work already underway to transform this railway. People are the most important part of any successful operation and I am looking forward to meeting the teams and individuals across the SWR network.”

Steve Montgomery, First Rail Managing Director, said: “With her experienced background in customer service and public transport, Claire is well-placed to lead South Western Railway as we continue our £1.2bn programme to transform the travelling experience for our customers. We are all looking forward to having her on the team. Although passenger numbers may be suppressed at the moment, people will want to travel again for work or leisure, and we are ready to play our part in helping the economic recovery across the network. I’d like to thank Mark Hopwood performing this important interim role over the past year and for his commitment to improving services for customers at SWR.”

Steve Murphy, Chief Executive Officer MTR UK, added: “I am delighted that Claire has agreed to join us as SWR’s Managing Director. Claire’s outstanding leadership qualities, along with her extensive experience across the transport sector, will be invaluable as we drive the business forward in line with our customers’ expectations. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Mark Hopwood for the excellent job he has done as Interim Managing Director.” 

Mark Hopwood said: “It has been an honour to lead the team at SWR and I would like to thank all my colleagues for their professionalism, dedication and commitment in what has been a challenging year. I feel we have made real progress with our performance, our investment programme and improving our customer experience. I know that I head back to GWR leaving SWR in very capable hands.”

Meet Barry: South Western Railway’s secret weapon in drive to boost performance

The customer now has a voice at the very heart of South Western Railway’s (SWR) control room and his name is Barry.

Based at the Wessex Integrated Control Centre (WICC), Barry Lemm is one of the seven new Duty Control Managers (DCM) being tasked with ensuring that the customer is at the centre of decisions taken during service disruption.

Barry and the other DCMs are on hand 24/7 to make sure the right decisions are made for passengers as well as for the railway. They help to ensure that service is recovered not just as quickly as possible, but in a way that impacts the smallest number of passengers.

Barry Lemm, Duty Control Manager, said:

“We can’t have our customers in the control room with us, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a say in how our network runs. My DCM colleagues and I are proud to represent the interests of our passengers and be their voice in the control room.

“Those of us who work on the railway do so because we are passionate about delivering the best journeys we can for our passengers. In this role, we DCMs are uniquely placed to really make a positive difference to the services we run”.   

Barry and his DCM colleagues kick into action as soon as disruption takes place on the network, working to mitigate its impact and ensure that passengers are given up-to-date and accurate information as quickly as possible.

To assist Barry and his colleagues in the control room is a new web based tool called Standard Operating Procedure Checklist. This tool helps to ensure that incidents are managed in a timely manner by checking off the required actions of everyone involved as the incident unfolds right up until it is closed.

Previously, management of the train service across the network was led by Network Rail alone, but this new arrangement sees the DCMs working in tandem with Network Rail’s Route Control Managers.

The move comes following a 2018 report on SWR performance by Sir Michael Holden which identified train service management during disruption and the resulting impact on customers as an area which required improvement. The introduction of DCMs is a response to this and signals a major shift towards improving customer experience.

The Holden Report was the catalyst for the creation of the Joint Performance Improvement Centre (JPIC) which has been in existence now for almost two years. The creation of the DCM role was made possible as a result of close collaboration between both SWR and Network Rail, via JPIC, as part of the Control Transformation Programme.

Commenting, Stefan Chybowski, SWR’s Train Service Delivery Manager, said:

“We strive to put the customer at the heart of everything we do, and this shakeup will put our passengers’ interests at centre stage when incidents and disruption occur on the network.

“We are determined to drive up the performance and punctuality of our network, and the Holden Report identified disruption management as an area which was key to bringing about improvements. This move is a direct response to this report, with the DCMs set to help deliver the changes our customers rightly want to see”.

Former London Underground District Line trains swap the City for Island life

The first of the fully refurbished, high specification fleet arrives today, marking a significant milestone in the delivery of a modern railway for the Isle of Wight 

This afternoon (Thursday 19 November), amidst the usual mix of customers making their way over to the Isle of Wight, the 14:45 ferry pulled into Fishbourne Ferry Port carrying a rather different kind of passenger.  

Whilst cars, vans and lorries are very often seen boarding, it is rather rarer to see a train, on a lorry, on a ferry.  

With a major upgrade to Island Line underway, however, the arrival of the first of the new fleet of trains has been highly anticipated in advance of their entry into service in spring 2021. The delivery, which marks a major step towards a modern Island Line, has been in the works since September 2019, following the announcement of £26m of funding primarily from the Department for Transport (£25 million), with support from Isle of Wight Council (£300,000) and Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) (£700,000). 

Whilst the outside of the trains may look familiar – although in a different colour scheme – the inside will tell a different story, with a whole host of upgrades, new interiors and enhancements to the customer experience. The complete makeover also includes adding free on-board WiFi, significantly improving onboard passenger information, and providing charging sockets and wheelchair spaces.  

The newly refurbished train will operate alongside four others in the fleet, due to arrive on the island over the coming months. These trains, known as Class 484s, continue Island Line’s long-standing tradition of using refurbished and transformed former London Underground rolling stock. They will replace the existing 82-year old Class 483 fleet, which were originally built in 1938 for the London Underground, and have served Island Line since the late 1980s. 

New train arrives on the Isle of Wight

The new trains – which previously served London’s District Line, delivering customers to popular events and locations such as the tennis at Wimbledon and the museums in Kensington, not to mention the heart of the City – are being built by English rolling stock manufacturer, Vivarail, based in Long Marston in Warwickshire.  

For those hoping for a sneak peak of what it will feel like inside the new trains, Vivarail have created a virtual tour of the train interior which can be viewed here 

Alongside the modern fleet, Island Line will soon benefit from a number of infrastructure and station improvements including: the installation of a new passing loop at Brading, allowing for a service at regular 30-minute intervals; track enhancement work to improve ride quality; and adjustments to platform heights to improve accessibility. 

In order to complete these improvement works, Island Line will be closed from 4 January 2021 until 31 March 2021, with replacement buses operating instead. Following these works, the new trains will be introduced into service. 

For more information on the improvements we’re making to Island Line, head to southwesternrailway.com/islandupgrade   

Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of South Western Railway said: “Island Line customers are going to notice a real improvement with the introduction of this new fleet, improving journeys for the future. 

“The Class 483s have proven to be the workhorse of the railway, but these newer trains will help modernise the rail experience on the Isle of Wight for years to come. 

“This is the first major step towards a better railway for the island, and we are now only a matter of months away before the trains enter service.”  

Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris said:“It’s great to finally see this long-awaited, welcome improvement, that will bring the Island Line into the modern era.  

“Passengers on the Island Line will benefit from the new fleet’s more comfortable and reliable services, whilst still being able to enjoy the unique charm that has become a hallmark of the island’s railway.” 

Rachael Randall, Solent LEP Director, said: “The arrival of the first of the new trains is a major milestone in our work with South Western Railway to improve connectivity on the Island. We now need to ensure that local communities can get the best possible use of this new fleet, with a regular service aligned with other transport options, and I am delighted to be able to confirm the LEPs £700,000 Local Growth Deal investment into the Island Line to make this possible. This will ensure that the service is sustainable and can operate for the benefit of Island commuters for years to come.” 

Bob Seely, Member of Parliament for the Isle of Wight, said: “I am delighted to welcome the first of these trains to the Island. This is good news for residents, commuters, students and the tourism industry who can now look forward to a much better passenger experience from next May onwards. 

“Today marks an important milestone in the overall improvement of rail provision and connectivity from Shanklin all the way through to the mainland. We will see half-hourly trains throughout the day, starting earlier and finishing later to provide a more comprehensive service. 

“Along with the Isle of Wight Council, the Solent LEP, KILF and various other interest groups, we convinced the Government to back this multi-million pound investment in Island Line, which – together with the forthcoming work to Ryde Railway Pier – amounts to the biggest upgrade the route has seen in over 50 years. I am also grateful to South Western Railway who have remained committed to delivering these improvements, despite the significant difficulties of recent months. 

“Like many Islanders, I look forward to travelling on the trains once they are fully operational.” 

Councillor Ian Ward, Cabinet member for transport and infrastructure at the Isle of Wight Council, said: “We welcome this investment in Island Line by South Western Railway which will usher in a new era of travel on this important railway line. 

“The new Class 484 trains will offer rail passengers travelling between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin more comfort, greater capacity, better accessibility and modern features such as USB charging, passenger information systems and free on-board WiFi. 

“This is in stark contrast to the current trains being used on the Isle of Wight which are older than some of the trains running on the heritage steam railway. 

“We look forward to seeing the Class 484 trains in action next year, together with a new passing loop at Brading which will enable Island Line to run a service at regular 30-minute intervals, providing better connections to ferries to the mainland.” 

Adrian Shooter, CEO Vivarail said: “The Class 484s are an excellent addition to our suite of emission-free trains and we are delighted that they are heading to Island Line.  The air on the Isle of Wight seems to suit trains so perhaps these will continue the venerable tradition of the Class 483s and keep passengers and tourists moving for decades to come.” 

Railcam’s Andy went down to Portsmouth to see the first unit arrive. Here are his pictures. And our view from Ryde cam of the unit on the ferry.

There is also a video of the first coach arriving at Portsmouth that can be viewed here

Templecombe and Haslemere stations shortlisted for coveted railway prize

Two South Western Railway (SWR) stations are in the running to be crowned ‘Station of the Year’, as part of the National Rail Awards (NRA) 2020.

The judges were impressed by Templecombe station in Somerset and Haslemere station in Surrey, with both being shortlisted earlier this month.

The Friends of Templecombe Station – a long established adoption group which has worked closely with the SWR member of staff at the station – has continued to produce beautiful flower displays which are on show across the site, including on the disused platform. They also host monthly coffee mornings in the station’s waiting area, supporting passengers and the local community alike.

The station has history with the awards, having been highly commended in this category in 2018 and winning in 2019.

The local station adoption group at Haslemere has worked closely with the SWR team to install new flower displays, a defibrillator and artwork produced by local schoolchildren. They also received funding and assistance from a variety of teams across SWR to completely refurbish the volunteer-run Information Hub, which is leased on a peppercorn rent.

Commenting, SWR’s Head of Stations Jerome Pacatte said:

“Our station colleagues and local community groups work incredibly hard to maintain and enhance our stations, and in doing help to enhance the overall experience of using our network.

“It is fantastic that the teams that help to maintain both Templecombe and Haslemere stations have already been recognised by the National Rail Awards. This is richly deserved, and we are all wishing them the best of the luck for the next stage of the competition”.

South Western Railway launches Apple Pay on its app and website

South Western Railway has become one of the first UK train operators to launch Apple Pay on its app and website making it even easier for customers to buy their tickets online.

Customers using an apple device such as an iPad or iPhone can use the feature through the SWR app or SWR website when purchasing a ticket.

The Apple Pay feature allows customers to buy a ticket without having to enter their details such as card number and billing address every time they purchase a ticket. Instead, the system uses the card information saved on the device to process the transaction in a matter of seconds.

Using the SWR app also allows customers to use e-tickets which can be saved directly onto a customer’s phone, rather than having to print a ticket at the station before travelling.

Peter Williams, Commercial Director for South Western Railway, said: “Using our app or our website has always been the easiest way to buy train tickets.

“We’re constantly looking at new technology to make buying tickets even easier for our customers and this new feature will do just that.”

Arterio fleet will transform travel

South Western Railway (SWR) today unveiled Arterio as the name for the new £1 billion train fleet set to transform travel across South West London, Surrey and Berkshire.

Unveiled by SWR’s Managing Director Mark Hopwood during a special event at Wimbledon depot, the name Arterio reflects the suburban network’s importance to the nation’s capital.

The UK’s busiest station, London Waterloo is at the heart of the South Western network and SWR’s suburban routes are the arteries which feed it, taking people to work and school, to the capital’s theatres, restaurants and bars and home again.

The 90-strong fleet will replace some of the network’s oldest trains, and will offer better reliability and performance, delivering more passengers where they want to go, on time and in comfort.

Customers travelling on Arterio will experience more comfortable and connected journeys with two by two seating, onboard Wi-Fi, at-seat charging points, screens showing real-time service information, air-conditioning, walk-through carriages, dedicated wheelchair spaces and fully accessible toilets across the entire suburban network for the first time.

The first Arterio train is expected to be introduced later this year on the Reading line, with a total of 750 new carriages to be introduced over the following two years.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said:
“This is an important milestone for South Western Railway. This new fleet which will offer improved reliability and better facilities, getting passengers across the South West to their destination in comfort and on time.

“As services begin to return to normal levels and passenger numbers increase, it is our upmost priority to ensure everyone stays safe when travelling, which is why we continue to advise people to wear a face covering, travel at quieter times, wash their hands regularly and maintain social distancing.”

Mark Hopwood, South Western Railway’s Managing Director, said:
“The name Arterio reflects how important this fleet will be in carrying people in and out of the heart of the capital.

“Although passenger numbers may be low at the moment, people will want to travel again whether that is for work or leisure and we will be ready to play our part in helping that recovery. New trains that offer a transformed travelling experience will be key to that.

“The Arterio fleet is a massive investment for our business, and we are looking forward to our passengers joining us on this exciting journey.”

Matt Byrne, President UK & Ireland, Bombardier Transportation said:
“We are delighted that South Western Railway have chosen the name ‘Arterio’ for the 750-car fleet we have designed and are now building here in Britain.

“We are working with SWR to bring the trains into service as rapidly as possible, so they can help transform the vital routes serving London’s Waterloo Station.”

The new Arterio fleet is financed by Rock Rail South Western, a joint venture between Rock Rail, Aberdeen Standard Investments and GLIL Infrastructure, and will be leased to SWR.

Mark Swindell, CEO Rock Rail and Director Rock Rail South Western, said:
“We are delighted that the new and aptly named Arterio fleet is set to deliver a vastly improved travelling experience for passengers returning to these key SWR routes into and out of London.

“The new fleet represents the largest single investment by pension funds and insurance companies into UK rolling stock, reflecting Rock Rail’s and our institutional partners’ commitment to sustainable travel and, working in partnership with SWR and Bombardier, to helping transform rail travel across the region.”

SWR’s community partners recognised with national awards shortlisting

A number of community rail partnerships (CRPs) and station adopters which have been given funding and support by South Western Railway (SWR) have been shortlisted as part of the coveted Community Rail Awards.

The awards celebrate the important, and often unsung work, carried out by community rail volunteers, partnerships, station friends, and community groups, in bringing local people together, running community engagement and rail accessibility initiatives, as well as helping communities get the most from their local railway lines and stations.

SWR provides funding and support to 11 CRPs (an increase from eight in 2019), and now has 55 registered station adopters (an 800 percent increase in less than two years).

In the Involving Diverse Groups category, SWR’s Community Ambassadors receive a nod for journeys they ran with three CRPs (Devon and Cornwall, East Hants and Surrey Hills to South Downs) for young people with learning disabilities, two primary schools and a group from Dementia Friendly Petersfield.

Two out of the three shortlisted community art schemes in the Permanent and Larger Project category come from the network, with recognition for SWR and The Lightbox’s efforts to brighten up Woking footbridge and East Hants CRP’s impressive vinyls at Liss station. In the Smaller and Renewable Project award, Art @ the station, a joint collaboration between SWR and The Art Society, Guildford is recognised.

Works at stations large and small are also highlighted, including the impressive work undertaken by the Surrey Hills to South Downs CRP adding flower displays, a defibrillator, and a recently refurbished volunteer run Information Hub to Haslemere station is shortlisted for the Most Enhanced Station award.

Four projects from three station adopters are picked out in the Small Project (£500 or less) section, including the SWR funded lifeboat planter at Lake station, community activities undertaken by the Friends of Brockenhurst Station, and the Making Connections project completed by the Friends of Wool Station.

The Friends of Brockenhurst Station are also one of two adoption groups shortlisted in the It’s Your Station category, going up against the Friends of Crewkerne Station. Each group has added impressive planters and organised community events at their stations, further helping the locations reflect the communities they serve.

Meanwhile, the man behind the Wool information project, Tony Smale, is recognised in the Outstanding Volunteer section for his individual efforts with the Friends of Wool Station, helping to bring a real sense of community to the location for more than a decade. Tony is joined in the running by a local Purbeck CRP volunteer, Mick Stone, who has been involved with the partnership since its inception, as well as supporting the North Downs Line CRP. One of the driving forces behind the Surrey Hills to South Downs CRP, Ken Griffiths, is also recognised for his efforts both at Haslemere station and along the line.

In the Best Community Engagement category, the Isle of Wight and Lymington to Brockenhurst CRPs are shortlisted for their efforts to adapt SWR’s funding for ‘Music on the Move’, a performance project with live music on trains, to ‘Food on the Move’, a programme which continues to distribute food to those most in need as a result of COVID-19.

The Isle of Wight CRP’s efforts with Fran Shelley and Alison Botha to deliver the unique Suit Yourself project, offering women the chance to develop their employability skills and confidence is also highlighted in the Influencing Positive Change & Sustainable Development award.

Rounding off the nominations is Three Rivers CRP, with a picture in the photo competition that captured the day the group took the (rather big) key to the redundant space at the station – the first peppercorn lease for a community group of the SWR franchise. The winner of this category will be chosen by a public vote – with anyone able to show their support via the awards page: https://communityrail.org.uk/events-training/community-rail-awards/

Andy Harrowell, SWR’s Community Rail Manager, said:

 “Over the last year we’ve gone further than ever before to help support communities across our network, providing funding to three additional CRPs, helping to create two new job roles, as well as supporting more and more groups to help their station further reflect the community they serve.

“We are extremely pleased to see so many of these collaborations recognised within these shortlistings. All across our network our staff and community partners undertake some excellent projects to support local areas and to have these acknowledged in this way is an extra bonus. We wish everyone luck when the awards are announced.”

The awards will be held as a virtual event on Thursday 9 December.

Looking to the future: welcoming new recruits in difficult times

South Western Railway (SWR) looks to the future as it welcomes new employees to the railway family.

The travel industry has been hit particularly hard by Covid-19. Sectors like air, rail and bus have had to cope with rapidly changing travel patterns due to social distancing, more customers opting to work from home, as well as the general economic downturn. Many colleagues in the travel sector have either faced being furloughed or made redundant in recent months.

Many of those who have lost their jobs as a result of the crisis share SWR’s values, especially their dedication to passengers. As it looks to the future, SWR has been working hard to find new recruits as the operator helps begin rebuilding local economies on the network.

Nicole Russell joins SWR after being made redundant by Arriva Bus and has over 13 years’ transport experience. She will put her skills to the test as she becomes a Guards Manager at Waterloo – one of Europe’s busiest railway stations.

Nicole said: “I have a sense of pride in knowing that I can still obtain a job in an increasingly difficult employment climate. I am pleased SWR has seen my potential and I cannot wait to get stuck into my new role.”

Matthew Bambury will become a Platform Assistant at Aldershot station following 6 years’ working at Virgin Atlantic as part of its cabin crew.

Matthew said: “I hope to bring the skills and experiences I acquired in my previous position to this role , and I am looking forward to taking each day as a new and exciting opportunity to meet new people and learn more about the transport industry. ”

Kyle Evans joins as a Route Revenue Manager from the aviation industry following redundancy at British Airways. 

He adds: “Working for SWR will enable me to help millions of passengers receive a quality service and give me the opportunity to enhance services even further.”

Sharon Johnston, Human Resources Director at South Western Railway, said:
“We’re excited to welcome our new recruits to the railway family, especially those from other areas of the travel industry hit hard by Covid-19.

“We know this is a difficult time for many, but we’re always on the lookout for great people to help us deliver great journeys for our passengers. We encourage those wanting to make a difference to look at some of the great roles we have here at South Western Railway.”

SWR is always on the lookout for great people to help deliver great journeys for customers, and  more information on open positions can be found here: https://uk.firstgroupcareers.com/company/southwesternrailway/home/.

Railway children urge passengers to wear face coverings and keep distance

Children of South Western Railway (SWR) staff are asking passengers to help keep their parents safe.

New station announcements recorded by two children call on passengers to wear face coverings and keep their distance from each other. The announcements are now being played across the SWR network.

One of the children, Teenasha Santuck, from South London, asks customers to wear a face covering so that she can see her mum smile when she gets back from work. The other, Evie Thew, from Honiton in East Devon, urges everyone to keep their distance so she is still able to hug her mum, dad and granddad – all of whom work for SWR.

Evie, Mum, Dad, Granddad

The two children won a SWR-wide competition to become the voices of two new station announcements. They each received a £50 gift voucher, certificate and goodie bag in recognition of their success.

Alan Penlington, SWR’s Director of Customer Experience, said:

“Our number one priority is the safety of our customers and colleagues, and we are continuing to do all we can to stop the spread of coronavirus across our network. But we need our customers’ help too.

“By following Teenasha and Evie’s excellent advice and wearing a face covering while maintaining social distancing, we can all help to keep each other safe”.

DB ESG announce design and installation of desk panels for South Western Railways

DB ESG is pleased to be able to announce that it has signed a contract with South Western Railways

(Derby, 15. July 2020) DB ESG is pleased to be able to announce that it has signed a contract with South Western Railways for the turnkey design, approvals, supply, installation and testing of 36 new desk panels for the 18 Class 442 units operating on the London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour route.

These new panels are required following the re-tractioning of these units, which will result in considerable alterations to the in-cab controls, including the removal of the brake system pressure gauge. The customer decided that these modifications warranted a new modern and clean layout for the driver desks, hence this new order.

DB ESG will be subcontracting the panel construction to the Swiss, family- owned company EAO AG, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-quality switches, keyboards, sophisticated control elements, and complete HMI control units. EAO will provide pre-assembled, renewed panels, indicators and switches.

DB ESG have a proven track record in delivering complex fleet modification programmes, including work in vehicle cabs, for example ETCS freight vehicle integration. They will create a prototype to check cab wiring and design Modifications are suitable including evaluation of the design from a human factors’ perspective. Installation will occur at Bournemouth traction and rolling stock maintenance depot.

Neil Drury, Engineering Director at South Western Railway, said, “We are pleased to confirm DB ESG will be taking on the work to design and fit new modern desks in the drivers’ cabs which forms part of our major overhaul to AC traction for our Class 442 fleet.”


Nick Goodhand, Managing Director, DB ESG added: “We look forward to forging new relationships with South Western Railways and EAO AG on this very interesting project.“