First train arrives late at South Western Railway launch

SWR 444040 carrying the operator's new livery, passes Basingstoke on September 4.  MARK PIKE.

South Western Railway launched its new brand and livery at an event in Waterloo’s former International Terminal on September 4. The first rebranded Class 444 Desiro (444040) arrived in new blue, striped white and silver.

The formal launch of the new franchise had been delayed for a fortnight, to ensure it was not connected with Network Rail’s partial closure of Waterloo station to extend platforms ready for longer trains (RAIL 833/834).

However, signal and points failures related to the upgrade severely disrupted schedules. It meant the first train arrived 15 minutes late, as Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling stood waiting with leaders of FirstGroup and MTR, which had jointly taken over the franchise on August 20.

SWR Managing Director Andy Mellors said: “There are huge challenges running this railway, and this train came in late. We have to get this railway running better than it does, and I think today demonstrates what we need to do to deliver a better service for our customers.”

Network Rail said that as well as points and signal failures, performance was affected by two train breakdowns. 

  • An EXCLUSIVE interview with SWR Managing Director Andy Mellors is in RAIL 834, on sale now.

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  • spsmiler - 05/09/2017 11:00

    Oh boy, they could not even get the first train in their new livery to run to time. But it could not happen to better people - the MD and govt. minister - giving them a personal taste of what the long suffering passengers too often experience. Hopefully this will encourage these officials and the DfT to work harder to improve how our railway system performs so that SWR and the other TOCs really can offer passengers an attractive and reliable service.

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  • Ed - 05/09/2017 11:58

    Train failures happen and they need a better means of dealing with them when they do. A failed train at Staines during the morning rush-hour yesterday was left blocking the line for hours, they were still blaming it as the cause of delays at 7pm that evening. An on-call Thunderbird unit wouldn't go amiss.

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  • AndrewJGwilt1989 - 09/09/2017 03:46

    Will the rest of the Class 444's aswell the Class 450's, Class 158's, Class 455's, Class 456's, Class 458's and Class 707's to have new SWR livery applied or just the Class 444's, 450's and 158's to have new livery.

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