South West Trains respond to Sir George on fare increases
11 Apr 2007
This is the text of a letter from SWT, in response to Sir george's comments on the restriction on validity of off-peak tickets


Friars Bridge Court 41-45 Blackfriars Road London

Rt Hon Sir George Young Bt, MP
2 Church Close
SP10 1 DP
Ref: 040407 a
Your Ref: HOC3506

04 April 2007

Thank you for your letter of 20th March. I understand that this will not be welcome news and I have had a number of letters from MP's.

On the specific points that you raise I can respond as follows. On the question of peak capacity we have, as I am sure you are aware, swapped 9 of our 2 car class 170 units for 3 car 158 units, which are in the process of being refurbished. This will give us some 600 additional seats and these will be available during the peak period. In addition we are committed to operating a 1 O-car train to and from Salisbury in the peak from the December 2008 timetable. Work on the necessary platform extensions between Salisbury and Overton will start shortly.

On the question of cheaper fares on early trains, the reality is that even the first trains to Waterloo are now full, or heavily loaded. The advent of smart ticketing from January 2009 will enable us to price much more flexibly to match supply and demand more closely. The changes from May are intended to test the degree to which price is a driver in changing travel patterns. One of the key outcomes from these changes will be to validate (or not) the extent to which passengers are influenced by price. This will be vital in informing the use of smart ticketing from January 2009. This may well mean lower prices on some trains, but higher prices on others. How this is to be achieved within the constraint of "'regulated fares" in peak periods is still being debated within the industry.

You know I share your views about car parking. I can assure you that we are working as quickly as we can to expand car parking. Indeed we have opened a modest extension at Guildford, 44 spaces, in March. I will give you an update on your stations as soon as I have something positive to tell you, but I can assure you it is a priority for me.

On the question of specific restrictions (on off-peak tickets)we are still working on the detail. As you can imagine it is complex, particularly on a long route like Waterloo to Exeter. I take on board your comments and I can only say at this stage we will look at this along with all the other stations on the route. The prime purpose of these changes is to smooth demand to be more in line with the capacity we have available. If we can achieve this with exception to the 12.00 deadline then of course we will consider it.
Yours sincerely

Stewart Palmer Managing Director
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