South Western Railway’s (SWR) future could be on the line following news of a £137million loss which could lead to them losing their franchise – which includes Island Line.
SWR is currently in talks with the Government over its contract which is due to expire in August 2024.
The train operator runs routes across the country – including our Shanklin to Ryde track.
South Western Railway directors have said there are ongoing discussions with the Department for Transport.
This could result in the “termination of the contract within the next 12 months” which would see “services being transferred to a publicly-owned operator”.
Figures from Companies House have revealed that SWR lost £136.9 million for the year ending 31st March 2019.
A spokesman for SWR said
“Recent performance has been affected by issues including infrastructure reliability, timetabling delays and industrial action.
“We continue to be in ongoing and constructive discussions with the DfT regarding potential commercial and contractual remedies for the franchise and what happens next, in order to ensure we reach the right outcome for the Government, our shareholders and our customers,”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Transport said:
“We monitor the financial health of all our franchises closely and we expect them to meet their contractual obligations, but we have clear and robust processes in place to protect services for passengers and taxpayers.
“The Government will shortly bring forward a White Paper containing reforms informed by the Williams Review that will put passengers first, end the complicated franchising model and simplify fares to create a simpler, more effective system.”
Island Line have been facing reliability and technical issues for some time now, resulting in the trains being on a reduced timetable, and in some cases being suspended altogether.
The ex-London underground rolling stock is set to be replaced later in the year with newly converted trains and passing loops thanks to a £26 million investment which announced by the Minister of State for Transport in September 2019.
During their unvailing, Chris Heaton-Harris MP explained how the Island can expect more punctual, reliable trains and better connections to cross-Solent services, supporting local residents, businesses and tourism.
The existing stock, once seen used on the London Underground, has been on the rails since being built in 1938.
The future of Island Line is currently unknown, with talks of Island Line potentially going nationalised or stripped of its franchise.
A potential outcome is that the current contract will end and the business can keep operating but under a Government control body instead.
Although, it has been said that the short term issue SWR is currently facing, will not affect their staff, nor will it affect the plans to improve Island Line later in the year.
UPDATE THURSDAY @ 11:35 – Bob Seely releases a statement – read it here.