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South Western Railway Services

Volume 700: debated on Thursday 9 September 2021

11. What assessment he has made of the potential impact on commuters of proposals to reduce permanently South Western Railway services from December 2022. (903270)

There is a consultation, which the hon. Lady well knows about, at this point in time. I am told that South Western Railway intends to provide 93% of its pre-covid capacity should that consultation be agreed to. I continue to monitor the situation.

It is clear that SWR’s proposals to slash services by about half from busy stations in my constituency, such as St Margarets and Whitton, is being driven by the demands in its contract with the Department for Transport. So will the Minister intervene and review his contract with SWR to avoid these drastic cuts to services on which local residents rely and for which they pay a very high price? It is far too soon to be making decisions about post-pandemic services.

I am watching the situation and looking forward to hearing back from SWR about the consultation. I have been talking about this very much with my right hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling), who has a similar campaign to that of the hon. Lady on behalf of his constituents. SWR has sent the consultation out to more than 3,500 stakeholders—MPs and other elected representatives, passengers and so on. Everybody knows that the number of passengers is still very much below the pre-pandemic level. We are relying on the results of that consultation to try to determine what future services need to look like.