Help and advice during your journey
Our Promise is to have a guard on every train. All our staff on trains and at stations are available to help if you need advice. There are also 24-hour Help Points at all of our stations (normally on the platform).
Getting a seat
We operate a "walk on" service, which means that you can join any South West Trains service if you have a valid ticket. This is one of the many benefits of train travel and as a result we cannot guarantee you a seat, especially during peak periods or during disruption. However, we always aim to provide as many seats as we can to minimise the number of passengers who have to stand.
We no longer offer seat reservations on our trains and you are free to choose where you sit. Standard class tickets are not valid in first class except for Weekend First upgrades or where you have paid the appropriate excess fare.
We work in partnership with the British Transport Police, Network Rail and local authorities to improve security at our stations, on our trains and in our car parks
To help reduce crime and perceptions of insecurity we have invested in the following initiatives:
- Closed Circuit Television at all South West Trains stations, monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- CCTV on board all South West Trains services
- Deployment of Rail Community Officers, accredited under the Railway Safety Accreditation Scheme. These officers provide a highly visible deterrent to crime and antisocial behaviour, and are employed to enforce the railway byelaws.
- Funding for additional British Transport Police officers, dedicated to the South West Trains network
- Provision of security guards at key locations to deal with antisocial behaviour
- Provision of Help Points on every station platform
We continue to work towards gaining Secure Station accreditation for our stations wherever possible. This is a government-led initiative that recognises stations that have met strict criteria for security.
We welcome the integration of train and cycle travel. We are increasing the provision of cycle storage areas, often in partnership with local authorities, and provide cycle racks or storage at most of our stations. Where we have CCTV installed at stations we try to make sure the cycle racks or storage areas are included in the coverage. Many of our trains get very busy and there is not always room to carry cycles safely and comfortably. For this reason, space for cycles is limited and is not available on most peak-time commuter services in and out of London.
On the Waterloo to Exeter services you need to reserve a space for your cycle. Cycle reservations are free and can be made at most staffed stations. We recommend you make your reservation at least 24 hours before you travel. On the rest of our services where cycles are allowed, you do not need to reserve a space. This is allocated on a first come, first served basis.
We will carry compact fully folding bicycles with wheels of less than 20’’ in diameter on any train or replacement rail service provided they are folded and stowed as luggage.
Our Cycle Policy is published in our timetable book and shows the services where cycles may not be carried. See here for more information about cycles on our trains.
Catering on trains
Most longer distance services have an 'at seat' catering trolley service. Our timetable shows which trains offer a catering service. Please note that the catering service may not be available at weekends if the train service is changed because of engineering work, particularly on early morning or late evening services. If the advertised catering service is unavailable we will do our best to let you know before you join the train. See here for more information about on train catering.
For the comfort and safety of all our passengers, smoking is not allowed on any of our trains. Also, in line with all other UK train companies, we enforce a complete no smoking policy at all our stations. All areas of the station are smoke-free irrespective of whether they are enclosed or otherwise. Smoking is allowed in car parks and open forecourts.
The South West Trains Lost Property office is at London Waterloo station and is open from 7.30am to 7pm, Monday to Friday. You can register your lost item here or by phoning the Lost Property office on 020 7401 7861. All lost property found on trains or at stations is sent to our Lost Property office. Please allow a minimum of 24 hours for the items to be received at this office. You may be charged for the return of your item. You will be advised of the cost if your item is found.
Train service disruption
Sometimes things happen that cause disruption to our train service. When incidents happen, for safety reasons we may have to change our timetables without giving any warning. We always try our best to minimise disruption, to keep you informed and to recommend, or provide, other means of travel.
If disruption happens after you have started your journey we will do our best to get you to your destination station or provide other means of transport. If your journey is not possible we will do our best to get you back to an appropriate station. When there are serious delays, staff will give you access to a telephone and help contact those expecting you.
If you are delayed for over an hour while travelling with us, we will offer you a complimentary non-alcoholic drink where train catering facilities exist and where stocks are available.
All our trains have a public address system and our staff have smart phones which enable them to receive information on the train service from our control centre. We aim to let you know what is happening. Our Promise is: "when we know what's happening, you'll know. If we don't know, we'll tell you that too".
Punctuality and reliability of our trains
Our Promise is to strive to operate to our published timetable, with every train leaving and arriving on time. However, we do appreciate that there are occasions when you may be delayed on your journey. Under certain circumstances we will provide compensation - please read on for how and when you can claim.
Back to top