I have recently travelled onboard South West Trains with 3 of my friends. I don't often use the train as it is too expensive. I travelled from Weymouth to Waterloo on Saturday and it only cost £25.80 day return each!! A real bargain, seeing as it would usually cost me over £50. The ticket office clerk at Weymouth suggested we use South West Trains 'GroupSave' deal because there were 4 of us travelling. With GroupSave, we saved 50% on our travel as only 2 pay when 4 travel. We just split the cost of the 2 tickets between the 4 of us. I thought the offer was only on for a short period but in fact GroupSave is on all year round. My friends and I had such a good trip to London; we are already planning another one for our yearly Christmas shopping trip!
I only recently started using trains as a daily commute to get to college, and South West Trains takes me to college and back everyday. Unfortunately I do not like South West Trains as their tickets are extremely over priced, the trains are usually running late, and the journey is usually bumpy at times. It beats me why the tickets are so overly priced, when the government are trying to encourage us to use public transport more to reduce global warming. Instead they're discouraging me from it, and I honestly can not wait until I pass my driving test and have the option to drive to college, which I will undoubtedly do. It costs me £5.90 for a return ticket to Frimley from Virginia Water, this is very expensive and even though I have a student rail card which gives me a discount, I still have to pay £23 every week to get to college. This is a lot of money for me as I am a student and my parents limit the amount of money I recieve these days.
When I first started taking South West Trains, they ran fairly on time until recently when at all three stations I use, they have been running late everyday. Which does not help as I usually end up running to college so I am only a few minutes late. It's hard for me to get an earlier train because they run every half hour and that would mean I would have to wake up at 6 in the morning which is too early for me to do everyday. So South West Trains aren't the most reliable.
The journey is also extremely irritating when the carriage is jumping up and down constantly for a few minutes at a time, and if you have problems with travel sickness then the journey really isn't for you.
Well I have been in London for a few days househunting, so in order to get there I took Southwest trains. My city is about an hour to Waterloo, so its used by a lot of commuters and tourists. The tickets are quite expensive unless you have an annual one or a railcard. It cost me £20 with a railcard.
Southwest trains usually have a buffet cart, which whilst over priced, is good if you forget or dont have time to buy lunch before you get on the train.
The staff on the train are always polite and friendly, they always check your tickets despite there being barriers at both ends.
The trains are always the same standard, usually clean if you get on at waterloo after theyve just cleaned it, the seats are comfortable and well maintained. They are usually on time but sometimes there can be delays as is the case with the whole of the British railway system.
I dont really have any choice but to use them as its the only company that goes to London from my town, so its a good job that they arent too bad.
I have never had to make a complaint about the service but I can imagine it is easy to by visiting their website. You can also buy tickets online but I would get them from national express because they often have 11% off which makes it cheaper.
I used to work for South West Trains through a company called Evolution recruitment in 2005 and at the time, there was a business merger happening between another rival rail commercial enterprise so as to expand the entire SouthWest trains rail netwok.
The political tensions were always very high, even amongst station staff, so for me, I just wanted to be on the other side of it all and become a mere passenger, not a cleaning operative scrubbing Graffiti from the inside of the ill-scented shunter coaches, seven nights a week at a rate of £7 per hour from 10pm till 6am. I don't know how I managed it for a year, but the recruitment agency depended upon employees like me who were never sick and worked religiously hard to get the trains miraculously clean before the drivers were ready to take them on their early morning runs often in a tired or grumpy mood, though some were more chirpy happy than a lottery winner, you often wondered what they had in their coffee after getting gout of bed!
Even though I worked on the trains, I also travelled on them and still do each week to get to and from college. SouthWest trains really do look after their staff and even employees who aren't directly employed by them but by some recruitment agencies that just want a diligent, uncomplaining workforce. I was given a train pass when I first started to get to and from my job location, so felt acknowledged as part of the Network Rail Industry even though I was extraneous to their own manpower services. They even paid for my track safety awareness course based in Eastleigh, so had a great day out when the training finished early.
To receive similar privileges to that of their own staff was the one memory I will always associate and have high regard for SouthWest trains and because you see the other side of rail life when you are not only just a busy commuter enamoured by the speed at which the silent Blue Desiros can travel at something like120mph on a 750 voltage cable. This is a rough guess, but used to know all the electric powered current values concerning rail lines ect, I've actually forgotten most of them until now, so this review is bringing back some great mathematical knowledge - essential if you ever work on a railway as there are even coach numbers that have to paired up correctly before they can depart the station.
Clearly the trains would not have operated at all if there were no cleaners, so I did my job with a great deal of passion in the beginning until I found myself the target of unwelcome bullying from two older ladies who felt threatened by my good rapport with my all male colleagues, it wasn't an easy ride being the only female when I first began and had to toughen against some of the workplace banter, many women would have run a mile by men making references to breasts and politically incorrect speech!. I took it all, tried to expose what was happening but soon realised that the railway is perhaps a place that has it's own culture, you must have a very thick skin to fit in.
It's very difficult when I have to travel into Guildford now from Woking, but it is such a short 10 minute journey that I don't stop to look out of the window to see if I can see old colleagues I'd rather not be reminded of those awful times.
However, what SouthWest trains provide for their commuters is comfort and mostly if you are travelling second class. However, although I enjoy the privacy of the first class coaches, they are nowhere near as spacious as the second class coaches, you can actually stretch your legs with more ease, you can't do so in the elite compartments, the seats are far more compact against the tables, you have to sit pretty upright with legs firmly pressed together, which isn't great if you are going on a long excursion. All the first class coaches are identifiable by their blue themed fabric with white detachable bibs draped over the top of the seats, are often empty whenever I board the train.
The toilet facilities are pretty dire and simply because they malfunction from time to time, so the automatic locking system can pack up whilst you are doing your business! - This has happened to so many people, I've been witness to these embarrassing scenes time over and astonished by the fact that there isn't even an emergency door lock in case you get caught out, only a panick button which isn't going to rescue you from shame, but great for people with disabilities or those just about to have a coronary heart attack and can't reach the open dial, that when you press into the center, is slow to react anyway.
The Desiros are the fastest and most presentable of trains and are often called silent widows because of their mute locamotion as an electrically operated transport system, plenty of children playing on rail lines are unaware of just how dangerous these killer bullets are as they are nothing like the old shunter ones that are at least 25 years old and have a top speed of 60mph. It wasn't safe to play on tracks even when I was a child, but your chances of survial were much greater than now, so shows you just how mechanically advanced these British coach manufactured ones really are and why they are expensive to travel in them.
You can tell the difference between the two as the Desiros are blue and red and look as sophisticated as they really are, the shunters are the blue red and white, faded from years of service with slam doors throughout the coaches, they are an unpleasant feature of these trains that these rail vehicles should be completely demolished as are an eye sore, even the seats are detatchedable from their plastic bases, I've often discovered loose change and mobile phones when I cleaned them, but fairly handed them in unlike some of the staff I worked with.
Overall, this rail network that has been running ever since before the sinking of the Titanic in 1914, is such a revolutionary transport scheme because it has contuined to redevelop it's services within the past decade, there is a complex heirachy of management that could have hindered progress but instead has provided commuters with the very best they can and, even though this might not be reflected in the train fayres or corrupt toilets, most definitely in their treatment of their staff.
There will always be delays with trains because they have to wait for the
tracks to change to connect to the direction it's heading. This is a timely process that doesn't match the excellence of the superior trains themselves and why it is commuters get so frustrated as they can't understand why trains and rail lines don't share the same equality when they ought to. This is such a great example of how it is that old and new technology coexist as a hazard rather than a marvel.
Commuters don't get the treatment they deserve or value for money even if the staff can enjoy the fruits of their labour when network rail create so much revenue, they could stop charging passengers for tickets if the trains run more than half an hour late or re-design their first class accommodation so that it is more user-friendly and even install proper toilets where the doors don't take on a life of their own.
South west trains are essentially the only train company I use (not out of choice, but because they are the main company running trains in the places I need to go). The name would suggest that the run in the south west of the country, but I live in the south east and use the trains around London and between London and the south coast.
I can't really comment on specific prices as it all depends where you buy the ticket from, how far in advance, where you're going and if you break the journey up to get multiple tickets.
Essentially though, the fares are expensive - I read in a paper that UK train fares are the most expensive in Europe and south west trains aren't the exception. I have a young persons railcard (entitles you to discount, but you have to pay for it - this year mine was £26 (up £2 from last year)) and a day return from Bognor Regis to Barnes just cost me £15. Return fares are usually only a couple of pounds more than a single and you can get open ended returns (valid for a month) so it's usually worth buying a return rather than a single if there's a chance you might be coming back the other way!
We all know that trains are subject to frequent delays and I'd say about 50% of the train journeys I take are subject to substancial delays or even cancellations (but I think I'm just unlucky). To be fair most of the time it's not the fault south west trains - usually it's signal failures or suicide, but when I tried to get the train from Clapham to Bognor last week I was waiting for a train for 2 hours because first their were trespassers on the line at Horsham and second (when the train made it past that) someone was taken ill at Victoria.
If your train is subject to a delay of over 2 hours south west trains say they will refund the full cost of your ticket - you have to fill out a form, attach your tickets and send it in the post. I'm waiting for a response to my claim, but I photocopied everything just incase I don't hear anything back.
The trains themselves:
South West trains are pretty distinctive being that they are bright blue, red and yellow in colour with 'South West Trains' emblazoned on the side.
Inside is pretty standard - several layouts of seats (a set of 6, 4 and 2) some with tables and some without. Aisles down the middle are very narrow which is a pain if you're carrying something bulky or the train is packed ie. in rush hour. On long journeys they tend to have a snack trolley although I've never bought from it as I refuse to pay jacked up prices for cheap food.
Overall I'd say they're too expensive and subject to an annoying number of delays, but in certain parts of the country, if you need to use a train you have no choice but south west trains so it can be a real grin and bear it situation.
Marginally better than First Great Western, one of the other operators that operate in my area. But this is still the company that announced to its paying customers that the trains had run out of diesel and we all had to transfer to a small train to complete out journey.
It seems as if the privatization experiment of the railway network really hasn't worked. Once again, we have a company that is expensive, yet delivers poor service.
I can only comment on the diesel Services from Exeter St.Davids to Waterloo, as this is the track I use.
First of all, the services are nearly always dirty and overcrowded. The problem is there is never enough rolling stock for any train company, so trains are never long enough. If you're getting on the train early enough (from Exeter, Yeovil and Salisbury), then you'll get a seat. Get on the train any later (Basingstoke, Woking), and you won't get a seat. You'll also have to contend with dirty toilets, little to no staff (this can be a problem if you need help) and never being able to find the snack trolley either!
The fares are high for the poor service offered.
The only thing that can be said is that the staff do try very hard to make it easier with the little they have.
Sadly, they are the only company offering any kind of service into Waterloo.
Having travelled with a number of different train operators, I have to sadly say that South West Trains ranks amongst, if not, the lowest of the bunch. This is sad, because it is also the train operator that I (have to) use most frequently.
If travelling from London Waterloo and you do not board the train early enough or joining at a later stop, then finding a seat can be vary from being very difficult to find to impossible. You will regularly have to stand and if joining at peak times, then this may even be difficult to do!
Travelling into London, generally, is not as bad and you tend to be able to find a seat if not travelling in peak hours. However, the cleanliness of the trains can be hit and miss as trains are not cleaned each end of the journey. If they are then not done very well!
The onboard inspectors are also a mixed bag from being very friendly and helpful to being very uncooperative and verging on argumentative. There are some very good ones that I have met but also ones which detract from a bad experience anyway.
Delays seems to be a regular thing although the length of such delays has reduced over time. I tend to expect delays and would certainly not be surprised by delays with South West trains.
Finally, an upgrade to First Class gets you very little and is not worth the premium. Compared to other operators, especially Virgin Trains, I can't believe South West even consider their offerings to be anywhere near 'First Class.' Effectively, all you get from First Class on South West Trains is a marginally nicer seat and table (although they do seem to be a little smaller than standard class). Worth the premium? Absolutely not
South West Trains: A stand up commedy for many
As a frequent train traveller, as well as commuting by road, for my job, I have had the pleasure or what should be better defined as displeasure of travelling on South West Trains.
The punciality - South West Trains have certainly enhanced their punculaity over the years, but still fail to arrive on time to London Waterloo, on almost ever occasion I travel. Whilst 5 minutes is not dramitically late in terms of the UK train network, it is significant enough to result in missing a connection, which means I am often delayed in terms of the overall time of the journey. This is something they need to improve upon!
The Experience - As the majority of trains I catch to Waterloo start at the departure station, I am fortunate enough to almost always get a seat, something essential given the 2+ hours that the journeys often take. For passengers joining further along the journey, finding a seat within 45 minutes of London can be nothing short of impossible! The common excuse for the guards are "there are not enough carriages"! Logic would dictate that they could improve the overall quality of the service, by increasing carriage numbers, but profit is above customer statisfcation, as customers are a captive audience!
The cleanliness - To give SWT credit, for those fortunate enough to be on the first jouney of the day for a given train, then cleanliness is sufficent, but far from perfect. For those travelling later on however, it is far more questionable. Often the seats can be far from inviting, but better a seat than none at all, I suppose.
The Summary - Does what it says on the tin, but not beyound the minimum needed.
I had become more and more disillusioned and frustrated with the trains. They are generally quite efficient, their time keeping much better than it used to be a few years back and generally quite reliable. But I have become very dissatisfied with the quality of service that the staff provide. Although I have met many who are friendly, polite and helpful, in times of dire need and desperation for help, they can be extremely foolish, unknowledgeable, unreliable, destructive and all this can be served in a very rude and aggressive manner - and I am very serious about the latter.
Each year as their prices increase and so does the quality of their service that delivers the opposite.
They demand that we buy a ticket at every available opportunity otherwise they hammer down their fines on the spot. The ticket office at our station is only staffed a few hours each day and closes up well before lunch time. So the next stop is the ticket machine, this is many a times out of service and has been for several months now. Ok, I am already annoyed, frustrated and worried at the same time in case I happen to meet an unpleasant ticket guard who may not listen to my explanation of my lack of ticket. Anyway, I get on the train and approach the guard to buy a ticket, no surprise he questions why I have no ticket, he probes further as to why I didn't use the ticket machine. After my explanation he finally sells me the ticket, but at the higher price. I question this and he argues that I should have bought the before I got on the train - aggghhhhh!! Didn't I make myself clear in the first place about the closed ticket office and the faulty machine?! B***dy h**l! Of course, I was not erratic like this, I always try to maintain a polite manner but I was just burning inside.
Another time I had to get a ticket on the train I was charged the higher priced fare. It was fortunate that someone else had bought the same ticket just before me from the same station and I asked why I was charged more than him. This has actually happened quite a few times, it's like what is wrong with me?!
I rarely use the trains now. I feel really worked up just writing this review. So I'm going to cut it short. I try to avoid using the trains unless I have to, and I try to make sure I get the ticket in advance online to avoid any potential contact with a rude aggressive member of staff. It really stresses me out when I meet one of them.
If a member of South West Trains is reading this, please pass this on. Please train your staff to be friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and professional.
Thanks for reading.
South West Trains have received mixed reviews here. All I can say is that I've not had any bad experiences with them as a company. I'll admit that the fares can be a bit steep, but really this is now true of any rail company in the South of England.
Generally, in my experience, the trains run without significant delay, and the trains are generally an acceptable level of cleanliness. In fact, my only significant complaint would be the immensely long journey time beween Reading and Guildford - 40 minutes!
Having said that, the services are regular, lots of destinations are covered, and the links from where I live to London, Reading and Portsmouth are generally very timely, although often busy.
In terms of luggage space, it is often limited to only overhead storage, except on lines to Gatwick Airport and such, where much more is provided. It's probable that this is only because it's needed on these trains, and not really on any others.
I have used them several times and don't have any problem with them. Their prices however are a slightly different story. However now I think you can buy a day return for anywhere on SWT network for £10, although I think this is weekends-only for a summer promotion.
SWT is the largest operator in terms of passenger kilometres travelled on the rail network. Approximately 160 million passenger journeys a year are made on their routes. I use South West trains everyday for my commute from Feltham to Vauxhall and also use them at weekends to go out or to go to football.
First, the staff. At all the destinations I use on this line I find the platform staff generally pleasant but at Clapham Junction they are often hiding away in their little cabin - particularly the women - and when you open the door to ask a question it's as if you've just walked in to their living room uninvited.
The line I use employs 2 types of train depending whether it originates in Windsor and Eton or Reading. I don't know the locomotive numbers but the Reading train is a "Desiro" and looks more modern. The trains are air conditioned which in this recent hot weather has been welcomed. At Feltham I always get a seat (unless there is disruption) but if you board a couple of stops down (Twickenham) you will likely be standing. Those services which call at Putney will find a large hoard of people trying to pack themselves in. From here until Clapham Junction (about 10 mins) can be uncomfortable.
Both types of train have toilets which I have found particularly useful after a long night in the pub. However, on about 30% of occasions they are out of order.
Each train has a guard and the majority of the time they are very good at making announcements and letting you know of any problems. A few, however, could do with improving their English as they can be difficult to understand. Similarly, many of the announcers seem to begin their speech before turning the mic on so you don't get the first 5 seconds of any message.
In terms of punctuality. the DfT's measurement called "Public Performance Measure", shows that SWT's Moving Annual Average of the above measure is 92.9%. In other words 93 out of 100 trains run on time. I have to say that this is borne out by my experience.
SWT operates trains between London and Surrey, Dorset, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Hampshire, Devon, Somerset, Middlesex, East and Greater London and the Island Line. Serving a mix of commuter and longer-distance travellers, running 1,698 trains every weekday.
So fact is that whatever the reviews say, if you want to travel these routes you will have to use SWT!
South West Trains are an important part of my life. I work for them and I use them to see family and friends on a regular basis.
Comparing them as a private enterprise, passenger transport company I would have to say that they are mid range in the UK. SWT is a commuter service primarily and it shows in the manner of a "passenger numbers" service which sacrifices large luggage facilites that other companies offer. When you consider the operating area of SWT with Southampton and Bournemouth Airports, Southampton Cruise Terminal, the traditional British Seaside, it seems that the users of the above facilites probably do not need luggage?!?
Commuters however feel that they are still considered as hindering the company. The 3+2 seating of the outer-suburban trains often appear across the south coast and are complained at as uncomfortable, however one must also consider that other local commuter services operated by Southern also offer the same seating configurations on a lot of its services in the area.
For both commuters and travellers of course, one important feature is refreshment. SWT offers catering services on its London to Portsmouth "direct" (via Guildford) Fast services and its London to Bournemouth/Weymouth services, but thats it... what about London to Portsmouth via Eastleigh? What about London to Portsmouth via Guildford stopping services? There are long-distance and commuter passengers on these... and what about the London to Poole stopping services? One would consider this an oversight on the part of the company, although if you ask the buffet staff, its because SWT do not contract them for these except during engineering works.... occasionally.
So overall. SWT... could treat its longer-distance commuters a bit better, offer a buffet service on the mid/long-distance services regardless of whether they are express or local and offer a bit of luggage space without encrouching on the wheelchair bays.
Personally I would not commute on them if I did not work for the company and hence get travel concessions.
(My views are my own and not necessarily the views of my company)
I started using SWT around 3 years ago when there were london bombings and no tubes running properly. and I liked the comfort and luxury of the brand new train coaches. I then moved next to the SWT station and now use SWT for daily commuting.
I travel from Hounslow to Waterloo, which takes around 40 minutes. As the train starts from Hounslow and terminates at Waterloo, I always get a seat all the time. Most of the time, the train consists of coaches from its brand new fleet, with spacious and comfortable seats and nice air conditioning. The staff service is good in general, but I don't need those extra information as I can see what station is next one, and to mind the gap and don't care to know why train is delayed, which is most of the time on time.
Price-wise it is very very expensive form of travel. I am lucky that I don't have to pay separate SWT prices as I use 1-5 zone season ticket on Oyster card. Most of the tube station around SWT station are in Zone-4, but somehow SWT Hounslow station is in Zone-5. That means extra £25 monthly rip-off. Also, my friend travels from Hounslow to Reading, where monthly season ticket is £260, but daily peak-time return ticket is £10.20. So, buying ticket daily is cheaper than monthly season ticket. Remeber that there are 20 working days in a month.
They also don't accept Pay-As-You-Go Oyster card and it will take long time to get that scheme on their ancient stations.
Also, there are weekend maintenance going on quite often, with slow bus service replacing trains. Luckily I don't travel with SWT on weekends.
Another irritating thing is - The SWT trains are very very slow on this route. It will take around 17 minutes to reach waterloo from Hounslow if there are fast trains. But they discontinue fast trains 4-5 years ago. Still there is a chance to reach Waterloo in less than 35 minutes, but it takes more than 10 minutes to enter waterloo station after leaving Vauxall, which is a shame.
Anyway, for me, the first leg of journey from Hounslow to Waterloo is very comfortable, with coffee in my hand, window seat and laptop plugged in to power supply provided in First-Class compartments, which are used as standard class on this route.
I've worked for SWT for a while now as a guard, they are reasonable payers and most would be surprised about the level of pay; But you'd also be shocked to see what goes on behind the scenes. If it looks like know-one knows what thier doing its because they dont. In the event major incidents causing delays staff have no idea whats happening as there is little to no communication from the management level to train crews. And the truth of the matter being, in the eye's of the management its more important that staff are punished for missing the odd announcement, or not shinning their shoes than getting you home on time. At the end of the day they dont care if you like South West Trains as a large percentage of passengers use the service cause they have no other way to get to work.
We also take a lot of stick from the passengers who are rude and blame the guard for most things, when in reality its almost never the guard or drivers fault. But hay we've treated badly by the company and the passengers. Next time your rude to me or one of my colleagues just think, would you do my job?
(These are my opinions on my employer, and are to be taken as this only)