South Western Railway (SWR) will not restore its London rail services to pre-pandemic levels next year in a move that has been labelled as “an attack” on central London’s economic recovery.
Figures, compiled by the Liberal Democrats, show SWR will cut their services across South West London from December 2022, compared to pre-pandemic levels, by up to 27 per cent.
An SWR spokesperson said the rail company will be putting on more train services over the next year, but that this will still not reach March 2020 levels.
One MP said a representative from SWR told a group of parliamentarians that the government advised rail firms that they have to set rail schedules according to future passenger demand estimates, which are currently very difficult to predict.
South Western Railway services will be 20 per cent less frequent than before the pandemic at Hounslow, Brentford, Kingston and Hampton stations, while Whitton will see a 27 per cent drop.
Clapham Junction and Wimbledon will see cuts of 8 and 14 per cent respectively.
The changes will see SWR run around nine-tenths of the services they did pre-Covid.
Retail giants John Lewis and Lidl have written to the train operator to complain about the economic impact of the cuts.
Full list of future cuts
|Station||May-19||% change||Per cent change|
|Whitton||11||8||27 per cent|
|Norbiton (via Wimbledon)||15||12||20 per cent|
|Kingston (via Wimbledon)||15||12||20 per cent|
|Hampton Wick (via Wimbledon)||15||12||20 per cent|
|Teddington (via Wimbledon)||15||12||20 per cent|
|Brentford||15||12||20 per cent|
|Hounslow||15||12||20 per cent|
|Raynes Park||46||39||15 per cent|
|Wimbledon||56||48||14 per cent|
|Feltham||27||24||11 per cent|
|Earlsfield||53||48||9 per cent|
|New Malden||23||21||8 per cent|
|Clapham Junction||98||90||8 per cent|
|Richmond||32||30||6 per cent|
|Twickenham||32||30||6 per cent|
|Wandsworth Town||24||23||4 per cent|
|Surbiton||30||29||3 per cent|
|Putney||30||29||3 per cent|
|Vauxhall||92||90||2 per cent|
Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, said the capital’s economy will suffer if there are not enough trains to cater for increasing numbers of workers returning to central London.
“This is an anti-business and anti-commuter move which will hit the city hard next year. I fear for businesses’ confidence if these cuts go ahead,” she said.
“The government is sitting on their hands, and worse still, could be guilty of causing this mess. If it is their contract with SWR to blame, then it’s time to rip it up and protect commuters before it’s too late.”
SWR signed a new contract with the Department for Transport in May that lasts until 2023.
It was signed under the new Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements (ERMAs) model, which replaced the government’s rail franchising model.
An SWR spokesperson said: “With customer journeys forecast to return to 76% of pre-pandemic levels, the services we are proposing will continue to provide sufficient capacity as the local economy in London, and the other areas we serve, bounces back.
“The railway has been supported throughout the pandemic by the Government and taxpayer, and therefore it is appropriate and responsible that we right-size our services to match demand in the new normal.”
A government spokesperson said: “South Western Railway and Network Rail have conducted an extensive public consultation on these proposals, and continue to study responses. It is entirely disingenuous to state these proposals are finalised.
“We will continue to work closely with SWR and Network Rail to deliver the most reliable services for passengers which meet forecast demand, whilst also considering the best value for the taxpayer.”