What Railways Services are in Surrey, England?

Surrey is one of the counties in England that is often visited by thousands of tourists each year. The county offers dozens of unique and wonderful tourist spots that make it a great destination to better enjoy the sights in England. Besides having plenty of tourist spots, Surrey also has rich history and culture that can be discovered by tourists via monuments, medieval structures, and museums within the county. 

However, the biggest reason why Surrey has so many visitors per year is that it is easily accessible, which means that tourists won’t have a difficult time traveling to the county. One of the best and most convenient modes of transportation to get to Surrey is by train. To know more about the trains in the country, here are brief descriptions of each railway service in Surrey, England.

Railway System in Surrey

Before we get into the railway services in Surrey, let us first talk about the complex railway system found in the county. Most of the land occupied by Surrey is within the London commuter belt, which is a much bigger railway system that allows the people in London to get easy access to nearby and faraway counties.

There are several national rail routes in Surrey, which are the Brighton Main Line, the Sutton and Mole Valley Lines, the South West Main Line, the Portsmouth Direct Line, and the Waterloo to Reading Line. So, through these national rail routes, you can easily go from Surrey to another county. If you want to visit the Glastonbury Festival in time, you can take a train from Surrey to take you to Somerset in the west.

Now that we have discussed the railway system in Surrey, let us now get into the railway services that operate and manage the trains within the county. There are currently two companies that operate separately in different parts of Surrey, and these companies are the South Western Railway and Southern.

South Western Railway

rail tracks

South Western Railway, whose legal company name is First MTR South Western Trains Limited, is a railway service that has been operating in Elmbridge, Surrey Heath, Spelthorne, Runnymede, Waverly, and Woking since 2017. If you want to get to Somerset, Isle of Wight, Devon, Bristol, and Wilshire, you can take a train through South Western Railway. This company is 30% owned by the MTR Corporation, a company based in Hong Kong, and 70% owned by FirstGroup, which is a multi-national transport group in Britain.

This particular company was founded after South West Trains failed to negotiate an extension with the Department for Transport, who later relet the franchise in July 2015. A bidding war for the franchise then occurred in 2016, with FirstGroup being one of the few companies that were shortlisted to get the franchise. In June of the same year, MTR Corporation then agreed to own 30% of the shareholdings of the franchise after winning the bid conducted by FirstGroup.

The franchise was then officially awarded to FirstGroup and MTR Corporation in March 2017, and their license to operate started in August 2017 and would end in August 2024 if there are no extensions negotiated. However, the first license and the entire franchise system were abolished in December 2020, but MTR and FirstGroup signed a new contract that would give them control of the railway service until April 1, 2023. An extension for the contract is possible, and that extension would give them control over the South Western Railway until March 31, 2025.

Southern (Govia Thameslink Railway)

Southern is a railway service that is owned by the Govia Thameslink Railway or GTR, which controls the southern routes of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern railway franchise in England. The railway service is a subsidiary of Govia, a transport company that serves as a joint venture between Keolis (who owns 35% of the company) and Go-Ahead (who owns 65% of the service).

The Southern company has operated the South Central trail franchise (formerly known as Network SouthCentral) from2001 to 2009, as well as the Gatwick Express railway service from 2008 to 2009. When Southern was subsumed into the Govia Thameslink Railway, it became a separate entity from South Central and Gatwick Express, which are turned into standalone brands.

Southern primarily operates within London, Surrey, and Sussex, although they have railways in Kent, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, and Buckinghamshire. While the South Western Railway company focuses on the southwest region of England, Southern has a much wider reach since it operates up to the north and down to the south of London.

Those are two railway services that are currently operating within Surrey. If you want to get to Surrey and go to other places from there, you can get a ticket from these services that will take you to your desired destination in no time.