A MAJORITY of Gazette readers want SWR services to be put into public ownership, according to a recent poll.

86 per cent of people that responded to the poll on the Gazette’s website said that the services should be recalled from the franchise, operated by First MTR South Western Trains Ltd.

As reported last week, accounts show that the company made a post-tax loss of £136.9 million in the year up to March 31, 2019 - and this could see their contract terminated within the next 12 months.

The accounts said that there was “material uncertainty” and “significant doubt” over the company’s ability to continue.

However, talks with the DfT are expected to reach a “positive conclusion” and SWR will operate for the “foreseeable future”.

The RMT, whose members went on strike for 27 days in December, previously called for SWR to be handed over to the government’s control.

Their General Secretary, Mick Cash, said: “Rather than allowing South Western Railway to collapse into chaos, RMT is demanding that the existing operator is stripped of the franchise with the public sector taking over as soon as possible.”

A spokesperson for SWR said: “SWR’s 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.

“As set out previously, FirstGroup and MTR have already provided for the maximum unavoidable loss.”

SWR runs services from Waterloo to Weymouth, Exeter, Reading and Bristol.