This is one of the longer items that the Eye has written. We know that it’s tedious, and that most of our followers won’t want to read it all, but there’s no other way of covering the information. However, if you’re seriously interested in the quality of Camberley’s train service, you’ll read to the end, and then take action – including sending other local people a link to this item. Otherwise, you won’t really be able to complain in future that our train service isn’t good enough.
So, here is the story. The contract (the ‘South Western Franchise’) for running our train service expires next year, and the government will be awarding a new one to whichever train operator appears to be offering the best deal. As part of the selection process, the government is asking the public for its views on local rail transport.
There’s an on-line survey which you’ll find here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PBMTHYB but this is a bit difficult to work through on-line without knowing what’s coming next. In particular, it’s impossible to answer the first few questions sensibly without reading the consultation document first. So we’re reproducing ALL the consultation questions below, with some relevant background for those first few questions.
In October 2014 Passenger Focus (now Transport Focus) published the results of their research into passengers’ priorities for improvements
The top six passenger priorities for improvement for the South West and London areas were:
Price of train ticket offers better value for money;
Trains sufficiently frequent at the times I wish to travel;
Passengers always able to get a seat on the train;
More trains arrive on time than happens now;
Less frequent major unplanned disruption to your journey; and,
Passengers kept informed about delays.
Q1 Do you support the key priorities that have been identified through the Transport Focus research?
Q2 Are there other priorities you believe should be included to inform the new franchise specification?
1 Support the economy of the South Western franchise area by offering high quality rail services to, from and across the franchise with service levels that reflect the specific requirements of the different markets served including non-London flows, intra-regional and London-radial, while working within the affordability constraints on public funding.
2 Increase capacity to meet current demand and future growth, supporting the delivery of planned infrastructure works and rolling stock investments, whilst minimising disruption to passengers.
3 Deliver an excellent experience for passengers which leads to significantly improved passenger satisfaction. Particular consideration should be given to innovative solutions to improving the ticket purchasing experience, the expansion of smart ticketing, the quality of the station environment, on-train facilities, the punctuality and reliability of train services and the commitment to improve compensation arrangements.
4 Secure whole industry efficiencies and help reduce overall industry costs by working in partnership across the rail industry.
5 Secure short, medium and long term benefits from collaborative working practices and partnering with industry stakeholders such as Department for Transport, Network Rail and Transport for London, including supporting the development of emerging schemes such as Crossrail 2.
6 Work with stakeholders to support local communities to deliver local transport integration, local regeneration and investment in and around stations through Community Rail Partnerships and other organisations.
7 Work with the Isle of Wight Council to secure a long-term sustainable solution for the future of the Island Line during the course of the next franchise that will enable it to become a self-sustaining business.
8 Improve social and environmental sustainability to reduce carbon emissions, use resources effectively, and build skills and capability within the business and supply chain.
Q3 Do you feel that these are appropriate objectives for the South Western franchise?
Q4 Are there any other objectives you feel should be included?
Planned Investment to Address Capacity
Transport Focus has identified overcrowding on South Western trains as a concern for passengers.
Investment in the current franchise is providing additional passenger capacity, and further investment in both infrastructure and rolling stock is planned for the period of the new franchise.
The Government’s Rail Investment Strategy (RIS), published in July 2012, for the railways in the period up until March 2019 included a target for increasing capacity into London Waterloo. This capacity will be delivered through a combination of infrastructure and rolling stock enhancements.
At London Waterloo, a major project is planned for delivery in 2017 and 2018 that will lengthen Platforms 1-4 to accommodate 10-car trains and convert the platforms and concourse at Waterloo International to make it suitable for high frequency commuter operations.
A new fleet of 30 5-car units (150 vehicles) is planned to be introduced during 2017, creating opportunities to lengthen services and deploy rolling stock to meet demand across the franchise.
Q5. Considering the planned schemes to deliver additional capacity, what are your views on additional opportunities to deliver more capacity elsewhere within the franchise area?
Q6. Are there particular services or routes where you believe there is a need to introduce additional capacity to address overcrowding?
Q7. It may be possible to increase overall passenger carrying capacity by introducing different rolling stock that has more standing space and/or modifying the internal configuration of trains, including rebalancing first and standard class seating. Do you have views on these potential rolling stock changes?
Q8. What factors may impact on demand for travel on the new South Western franchise, drawing on local impacts in particular? Please provide any evidence you may have.
Q9. Where, if anywhere, would you like to see any changes to first and last trains on the South Western network and why? Do you have any evidence to support this?
Q10. Where, if anywhere, would you like to see any changes to weekend trains on the South Western network and why? Do you have any evidence to support this?
Q11. Would you support a specification which is flexible enough to allow the operator to review how station calls are allocated to train paths in order to improve the overall line capacity? What impact might this have on passengers?
Q12. Respondents are invited to propose any changes to the current pattern which they feel should be considered and to explain their rationale, for example by identifying specific local factors which might influence the future level of passenger demand which should be reflected in a revised specification.
Q13. Respondents who wish to promote service changes should clearly identify these in their response to this consultation, as well as any supporting business case or value for money (VfM) analysis.
Q14. Are there any specific stations or services where you believe reliability or punctuality should be improved?
Q15. Where possible, please explain your reasoning when responding to Question 14.
Q16. Respondents are asked to suggest what mitigating actions and steps the South Western operator should be expected to take to meet the needs of passengers both during the planned disruption to the franchise as a result of enhancement works and when ‘force majeure’ events, such as extreme weather or unplanned events that impact the smooth operation of the network.
Q17. Respondents are asked to consider whether they would support replacing first/last train services with alternative transport where it can be demonstrated that a longer period of engineering access for Network Rail would improve the infrastructure reliability and reduce disruption overall.
Q18. We are interested in your view on the best way to achieve efficient operation of this railway through partnership and collaboration. Please describe how such working arrangements might support this objective.
Q19. What opportunities are there for Community Rail Partnerships and other local partnerships to expand their role and range of activities to support local communities, businesses and other organisations?
Q20. What factors do you consider should be taken into account in assessment of options for the Island Line? [This refers to the Isle of Wight, and – along with the next few questions – is unlikely to be of great relevance to Camberley residents.]
Q21. Do you have any innovative proposals for how the Island Line might operate on a more self sustaining basis?
Q22. Are you aware of any proposals for third party funded changes?
Q23. Please provide details in line with the requirements set out above, or provide sufficient detail for further dialogue to take place to understand the proposals in Question 22.
Q24. What improvements would you like to see at the station(s) you use to enhance your journey experience?
Q25. Please indicate the name of the station(s) and the rationale for your specific comments in response to Question 24.
Q26. What are your proposals for providing passengers better and safer access to different modes of transport at stations (including bus, car, cycling and walking)?
Q27. What opportunities exist for improved integration between modes, citing relevant examples to support your comments?
Q28. What are your views on the availability of retail staff and the ability for passengers to have widespread access to ticket buying opportunities (e.g. through new and improved approaches such as smart ticketing, increased advance purchase ticketing or via mobiles phones), adequate measures to ensure vulnerable passengers are not disadvantaged, and more effective customer service by both station and on-train staff?
Q29. Do you have any evidence to support your views in response to Question 27?
Q30. What are your experiences of using smartcard technology within the franchise area to date?
Q31. To what extent do you believe that smartcard technology could be used to manage passenger demand and to create an integrated journey experience for passengers?
Q32. Are there areas of improvement in customer information and engagement you would like to see before, during and after your journey?
Q33. What areas of customer service within your end-to-end journey would you expect to see monitored and reported on to improve the service quality for passengers?
Q34. Please provide details of your experience with the current delay repay passenger compensation arrangements, and suggestions for how this might be modified in the new franchise to make compensation more transparent and convenient for passengers.
Q35. Do you have any proposals to improve the security and safety at stations and on trains that you would like us to consider?
Q36. Please provide details of the station(s) and/or trains(s) where appropriate that have informed your comments in response to Question 34, and provide supporting information where available.
That’s it. Now you can complete the on-line survey with ease!! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PBMTHYB