Island Line: Consultation launched for South Western Rail franchise

There’s a lot to read through, but residents concerned about the future of Island Line have until 9th February to respond to the consultation. OnTheWight will be reminding readers throughout the period.

Island line train

This in from the Department for Transport (DfT). Be aware it relates to the entire South Western franchise, not just Island Line trains. It should also be of interest to commuters. Ed

A consultation has launched today (Thursday) which asks for views from passengers on the next South Western franchise.

  • major improvements planned to tackle overcrowding and provide better, more convenient journeys
  • responses from 12-week public consultation will shape government’s plans for rail services between London and the south-west

Rail passengers in parts of the south-west and south-east can have their say over the future of their rail services by taking part in a government consultation launched today.

Passengers, businesses and local councils are being asked for their views on how the next South Western franchise — which serves parts of Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight — can deliver the rail services that people want.

New franchise to start in 2017
Major improvements to tackle overcrowding, boost punctuality and deliver better journeys are planned during the next franchise, which is due to start in 2017 when the current South West Trains contract comes to an end. Around 14% of all passenger journeys in the UK are made on the South Western network.

Rail Minister Claire Perry said:

“We are determined to make journeys better for the growing number of customers who use these services, and this consultation will ensure passengers are at the heart of this process.

“It is really important that people tell us what they think so we can take their views into account as we develop our plans, and ensure we deliver the improvements that passengers rightly deserve.”

Planned improvements
The consultation sets out the expected improvements for the next franchise, including the completion of planned major work at London Waterloo to lengthen platforms 1 to 4 and bring the former international platforms back into use, allowing for longer trains and more space.

From 2017, a new fleet of 30 five-car trains is also planned to tackle overcrowding, in addition to the 108 extra carriages being introduced during the current franchise as part of a £65 million government scheme.

It also asks for passengers’ views on a range of other improvements including how the next operator can:

  • improve journey times and punctuality, with new financial penalties for delays and cancellations
  • significantly increase the take-up of smart ticketing, providing passengers with more convenient and smoother journeys
  • take steps to improve customer service and compensation arrangements for passengers
  • improve facilities for customers on board trains and at stations
  • ensure that free Wi-Fi is provided across the network
  • work more closely with TfL and Network Rail for the benefit of passengers

Island Line – develop plans for separate and self-sustaining business
The next operator will be required to work with the council, community and stakeholders to develop plans to turn the Island Line, which serves the Isle of Wight, into a separate and self-sustaining business during the life of the next franchise.

This will help deliver the services that local people need, while putting the line on a more sustainable footing for the future and reducing costs.

The work of the Peninsula Rail Task Force — which is looking at improving the long-term resilience of the rail network in Devon and Cornwall — will also be taken into account as the government develops its plans for the franchise.

The 12-week consultation closes on 9 February 2016 and is available on GOV.UKM.

Image: seattlecamera under CC BY 2.0

Thursday, 12th November, 2015 10:33am



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story, Train, Travel

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25 Comments on "Island Line: Consultation launched for South Western Rail franchise"

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Just look at that picture at 2.38

They say a picture speaks 1000 words, and that one tells all that is wrong with Islandline.

That’s just a bit of cosmetic rust on the roof! It’s purely an aesthetic issue – when they decided to paint them in a ‘heritage’ paintscheme they should’ve chosen the red-oxide roof livery (as used by the London Transport Museum for their own train) rather than the grey, which shows up the rust quite badly. It is indeed systematic of the problems with Island Line however –… Read more »

Must be my eyes, but I can’t see any rust in that photo.


He’s referring to the photo in the document

Rod Manley
Let’s be clear on this. Government has declared that the current franchise will not be extended and the next franchise will mean the Isle of Wight turns into a separate and self-sustaining business during the life of the next franchise.This is exactly what Turner and Finney have asked for in their CIC proposal. It won’t work and cannot be financially sustained. we have said this all along.… Read more »

Rod, there’s no deadline – consultation makes clear that the winner has to work on the future of Island Line *during the course of the next franchise* – it’s all rather vague which hopefully means that it will get dropped after a few years as utterly unworkable.

Rod Manley

It’ll drop in 2017 right in the middle of the Conservative Government’s term.

Rod Manley

That means it will favour Turner.

You’re right, apart from the carriage roof needing a coat of paint there is nothing wrong with Islandline. Reliability, punctuality and affordability are all excellent and surely the measures by which the service should be judged? It’s all well and good pointing out the costs vs revenue figures in order to make the case for change but if you’re going to use an operating loss as the… Read more »

You are the instigator of this debacle, Mr Turner. I would like support in calling for your resignation.


As I have said before; it’s a done deal. The island line is either going to the vested interests of the Missing Persons cronies or it closes. Having watched the pitiful perfomance last month on parliament tv with Claire Perry, it comes across as a stitch up.

Come on Private Eye; investigate this sham. Why should the line be subjected to this charade?


“Ministers have stated their expectation that the next franchisee should develop ideas to turn the Island Line into a separate self-sustaining business during the life of the

“The Isle of Wight Council will lead this initiative, working with the new franchisee and potential third party investors”

The COUNCIL will LEAD this initiative? Who are they kidding?

All a load of spin!! If no private investment is forthcoming, then nothing will change, it won’t close which will be a good thing but then no investment will be made in Islandlne which is a bad thing. The government have been clever in stating the above in a different way!! I’ve said it before, it does not matter what form of transport is running on Islandline… Read more »

If Network Rail take full control of the infrastructure, as has been proposed, it may make investment in the track and signalling easier to justify – we’ll have to see.


Island Line started out as a separate franchise, with Network Rail in charge of the infrastructure. Been there, done that, didn’t work out. I guess government never learns from history.


Not true – the current situation with responsibility split between the operator and the infrastructure owner (now Network Rail, formerly Railtrack) dates from privatisation.

If it had been part of the ‘South Western’ franchise from the beginning this may never have happened, and we’d have a conventional access agreement where they simply pay to use the track.



You’re correct, my mistake. I was thinking the original Island Line franchise (1996-2007 – and won by Stagecoach who also won SouthWest Trains) had Railtrack as responsible for infrastructure.

With Network Rail to take over infrastructure responsibility surely that is going to lower the supposed $4million/year cost to run Island Line?

“The next operator will be required to work with the council, community and stakeholders to develop plans to turn the Island Line, which serves the Isle of Wight, into a separate and self-sustaining business during the life of the next franchise.” So a consultation with a pre-determined outcome as far as Island Line is concerned. Sort of reminiscent of Henry Ford’s “you can have any colour you… Read more »
Well done to Island Line staff for their success against all odds in running the country’s most punctual line with an infrastructure and rolling stock that with the exception of many well funded Heritage railways, that is visibly falling into disrepair. It is not the age of the rolling stock that is the main problem, many preserved railways fund raise the amounts they need for refurbishing projects.… Read more »

I fear we are suffering from Stagecoach (SWT) nearing the end of their franchise.

As they own the trains and maintain the infrastructure the results of penny pinching are perhaps even more obvious – the touching up of paintwork rather than full repaints, and the almost complete absence of 4-car trains does make me wonder.

You can get an idea of SWT’s reluctance to spend money from a meeting of the Island’s Quality Transport Partnership last year, concerning the cutting at Sandown: ‘Ideally work needs to take place before the winter. Phil Dominey from Network Rail said that if SWT doesn’t do the works they will go ahead and recharge SWT. SWT agreed to take the issue to their board meeting… Read more »

You are right, Stagecoach are not the only bidders for SWT / Islandline, and I’m hearing they are more than willing to take on Islandline and invest, and they are happy to do this because they will then get the very profitable SWT franchise which will more than make up for any investment required by Islandline.


Looking through the minutes of the ‘quality transport partnership’ I think *willing* may be overstatement…

I can’t understand, as Island Line has such an overwhelming satisfaction level compared with any other train operator, why any changes to it’s franchise arrangements are being considered. In a true democracy such support would be a done deal, for the present arrangements to continue. As the great South Western Trains, are it seems, totally unable to run Island Line at a profit, how could anyone else… Read more »
Some transparency would be helpful here. As was pointed out earlier, we don’t know how much of SW Trains’ claimed costs are overhead transfers from the mainland, nor do we know the extent to which the Byzantine revenue-sharing arrangements act to our disadvantage. Nor the extent to which Island Line is subject to expensive but possibly irrelevant ‘elf and safety. If I knew that I and a… Read more »