PERTH, UK, 16-11-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — Stagecoach Group, which operates the South West Trains network, today (12 November 2015) welcomed the start of a government consultation inviting passengers to have their say over the future of their rail services.
Passengers, businesses and local councils are being asked for their views on the next South Western franchise, which is due to start in 2017 when the current South West Trains contract comes to an end.
A Stagecoach Group spokesperson said: “We are proud that the improvements we have made over the past two decades have doubled the number of people using South West Trains services. There are now close to 1,700 services a day and around 230 million passenger journeys a year, making it one of the most heavily used rail networks in Europe.
“The next decade will see increasing levels of demand on an already crowded part of our railway and the people, businesses and communities that depend on it are looking for solutions. A huge amount of work needs to be done and we want to finish the job we have started to transform the service for our customers.
“The ground-breaking partnership we have built up with Network Rail and the support of the Department for Transport has unlocked key investment that will deliver a step-change in capacity and customer service over the next few years.
“Customers will benefit from a £210m fleet of new trains, as well as more carriages and seats, that will boost peak-time commuter capacity by around 30% by 2018. We are delivering new services to key parts of the network in the south-west, smart ticketing to allow easier door-to-door journeys, free WiFi, as well as hundreds of extra car parking spaces. Major enhancements at London Waterloo, the country’s busiest station, and elsewhere will help deliver better punctuality and reliability for passengers.
“We have invested more than £22m in improvements at more than 30 stations over the past 18 months and the next five years will see more than £1.2bn spent on the network.
“The continuity of being Britain’s longest running franchise operator has given us unrivalled insight into the challenges and opportunities of the network as it faces major change over the next few years. How that massive programme is managed will have a direct impact on the journeys of millions of passengers. Experience of projects elsewhere on the network shows how important it is to get it right.
“We are pleased the Department for Transport has started consulting on the future of the franchise, which is hugely important to London, the regional economy of the south-west of England and the community on the Isle of Wight. There are some key decisions to be made on the shape and structure of the network. The final specification will ultimately be decided by the government, but we hope it will be built around the needs of passengers and communities, prioritising quality, maximising capacity, and delivering value for money for taxpayer investment.”
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- Stagecoach Group is an international public transport group, with extensive operations in the UK, mainland Europe, the United States and Canada. The Group employs around 39,000 people, and operates around 13,000 buses, coaches, trains and trams.
- Stagecoach is one of the UK’s biggest bus and coach operators with around 8,500 buses and coaches on a network stretching from south-west England to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Low-cost coach service, megabus.com, operates a network of inter-city services across the UK and mainland Europe.
- Stagecoach is a major UK rail operator, running the South West Trains, Island Line and East Midlands Trains networks. It has also partnered with Virgin to run the East Coast and West Coast inter-city rail franchises.
- Stagecoach operates the Supertram light rail network in Sheffield.
- In North America, Stagecoach operates around 2,400 buses and coaches in the United States and Canada. megabus.com links around 130 key locations in North America. Stagecoach is also involved in operating commuter, transit, contracted, charter, airport shuttle and sightseeing services.
SOURCE: Stagecoach Group plc.