HAMPSHIRE MPs and campaigners are calling for change following speculation a major south coast train operator could be nationalised.

South Western Railway (SWR) which operates train services between Hampshire and London could be nationalised by the Department for Transport.

Two local MPs have now slammed the train operator, suggesting a review of how its services are delivered.

It comes after financial statements suggest the franchise is “not sustainable in the long term”.

Tory MP for Southampton Itch, Royston Smith, said: “It’s been really awful for ages. I think we had high hopes the problems with rail, timetables and delays could be dealt with. But, perhaps that is not the case. The government has a responsibility if a franchise can’t deliver and it will have to take the South Western Railway franchise back. It can’t go on.”

MP for Winchester, Steve Brine added: “This is a very clear warning sign and the Secretary of State has a legal duty to do just that. The service has not been good enough and I said I would use my experience to call for a franchise review.

“My constituents have suffered a poor service for too long. SWR now need to step up to the plate and change or step aside.”

Meanwhile, Jeremy Varns of SWR Watch, which campaigns for improved rail services, said: “The problems on SWR have been mounting in recent months, and the company’s continued poor performance has translated into dire financial results which undermine the franchise’s very existence. We have long called on the government to reform the rail industry and now is an opportunity for ministers to put the interests of passengers first. It is no longer sustainable to have a few large transport groups outbidding each other to run monopoly rail services while rail users face higher fares and declining levels of service. We need to see a much greater focus on delivering what passengers want and having greater choice through open-access providers to drive up standards and lower costs. Surely too, the structure of Network Rail needs to be reassessed with its primary functions absorbed into the primary operators within each region. We mustn’t forget what while SWR’s performance has undoubtedly been dismal, many of the current issues stem from our ageing track and signalling infrastructure which is the responsibility of the state.” Transport secretary Grant Shapps previously said the operation run by SWR could be transferred to the Operator of Last Resort (OPR), a public sector operator wholly owned by the government department.