As a daily commuter on the Exeter line, I would like to understand why so many trains now run in short formation. In 2 years of commuting under the last farnchise holder I can only remember 2 occasions where trains were short formed, causing over crowding. It now seems to be the norm - almost every train I travel on, every morning and evening, is missing a carriage or two, or three. This inevitably means standing for an hour or more in trains that are not designed with any standing room. I simply cannot understand what has changed. I know the diesel stock is old - but South West Trains seemed to manage ok.
Anticipating one potential answer, if it has anything to do with refurbishment of carriages, please stop now. None of your passengers mind whether they are sitting on red seats or blue seats - just that they have a seat at all. If you really need to refurbish carriages, wait until you have invested in enough stock so that your refurbishment program does not impact your customers. That’s what a business without a monopoly would have to do.
I have have tried to keep the tone of this message polite, when what I and most of my fellow passengers feel is screaming rage that our once relatively pleasant commute is now a daily ordeal. Most of us have no choice and no chance of recompense for the many thousands of pounds we pay to your firm for this service.
Please afford us the dignity of a proper response that explains why this is happening and when it will stop.
One of the main issues is that as part of recent cost cutting measures by SWR, some spares are no longer held in stock at Salisbury depot, where the diesels are maintained. This, of course, means lots of the maintenence takes longer than it did with SWT, meaning short forms are more common.
From next month, the Lymington branch should be going over to 450 operation, which should free up an extra 2 car diesel for the Exeter line, although I don't think I'll be holding my breath that this will do much to alleviate the chronic overcrowding of the line...
R.E the refurbishment is a franchise obligation, so they can't just stop. After this phase of the refurbishment has been completed, all the diesels are hopefully going back to have 2+2 seating fitted in first class, which should free up some much needed space and seating in standard.