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VIDEO REPORT: major improvements promised

South West Trains will be taken over by its rival operator First Group later this year.

It is the second largest franchise in the country with 650,000 passengers using it every day.

Chinese company MTR will provide a £1.2 billion pound investment to the franchise.

750 new carriages and faster journey times are promised.

It's hoped this means good news for passengers.

Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports.

Credit: PA

Mike spoke to Steve Montgomery from First Group, the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Anthony Smith from Transport Focus.

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Flybe fined for sending millions of unwanted emails

Credit: Flybe/PA

Airline Flybe has been fined £70,000 for sending millions of marketing emails to people who did not wish to receive them.

An investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found 3.3 million unwanted emails were sent.

The airline, which has a large base at Southampton Airport, sent the emails in August last year.

The email advised people to amend any out of date information and update their marketing preferences.

It also offered recipients to be entered into a prize draw if they updated their preferences.

The ICO warned UK firms to respect customers' data wishes.

Sending emails to determine whether people want to receive marketing without the right consent, is still marketing and it is against the law.”

“The company deliberately contacted people who had already opted out of emails from them.”

“Businesses must understand they can’t break one law to get ready for another.”

– Steve Eckersley, Head of Enforcement, ICO

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Transport Secretary: New owners "great news for rail passengers"

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport Credit: Library picture

The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, has commented on today's announcement:

This is great news for rail passengers. FirstGroup and MTR will deliver the improvements that people tell us they want right across the South Western franchise area, from Southampton and Portsmouth, to Bristol and Exeter, to Reading, Windsor and London.

We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century and this franchise will deliver real changes for passengers, who can look forward to modern trains, faster journeys and a more reliable service.”

– Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport

Stagecoach 'disappointed' at losing SWT franchise

The Stagecoach Group has said it is 'disappointed' that it has been unsuccessful in its bid for the new South Western rail franchise.

The company lost the franchise, due to commence in summer 2017, to Great Western Railway's owner First Group.

The company has released the following statement:

We are proud to have operated the network under the South West Trains brand for more than 20 years and we are disappointed that we have been unsuccessful in our bid for the new franchise.

Over the past two decades, we have delivered real improvements for our customers right across the network. That success has been built on fantastic people, detailed knowledge of the business and strong relationships with our stakeholders and railway partners. But we have never thought our job was finished.

We believe we submitted a strong bid for the new South Western franchise. It offered a transformation in the travel experience for our customers, more investment to help the railway support the communities and economy of the south-west, as well as a substantial and deliverable financial benefit to taxpayers to help fund better public services.

We will be seeking detailed feedback from the Department for Transport on the various elements of our bid.

I would like to thank all of our employees and partners who have been involved in delivering our vision for the railway in the south-west over the past two decades as well as those who contributed to our strong bid for the new franchise. I know they share our disappointment in the result. Nevertheless, we will continue to work hard on our part to deliver a professional service and meet our obligations in the final months of our current franchise."

– Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive, Stagecoach Group

Major road projects under threat from overspend

Some of the region's major projects - to ease congestion - could be under threat. It's been revealed that Highways England is £800,000 over budget

In total 16 schemes could be delayed - or face the axe - including the dualling of the A21 between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells at Castle Hill. The cost of this project has risen by a staggering £40 million.

The National Audit Office report indicates that, with money being tight, other schemes could also run into problems.

Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports.

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