South Western Railway (SWR), the train operating company that operates the South Western franchise, published its first Social Value Report in July 2021. SWR is in the process of developing a Social Value Strategy and commissioned Useful Projects to conduct a study into the local socio-economic and environmental challenges and opportunities facing communities in the South Western Railway region. Conducting a local needs analysis was one of the key recommendations in our ‘Maximising Social Value from Infrastructure Projects’ report published in 2020.
The SWR service area spans 41 Local Authorities that are home to almost 7.5 million residents. The analysis provides a detailed understanding of the key challenges and opportunities for the residents, employees, and businesses across a range of economic, social, and environmental indicators. The desk-based study is structured around 11 key themes which combine SWR’s 10 priority areas for social impact, feedback from Community Rail Partnerships, the Rail Social Value Tool impact areas, the 7 Indices of Multiple Deprivation, and key issues arising from our own research. The analysis considered relevant policy documents from key stakeholders to ensure it aligns with local and national priorities and used publicly available quantitative and qualitative data to map the priorities for each service region.
The output was a summary presentation, supported by detailed background research and a series of infographics.
The needs analysis will inform SWR’s Social Value Strategy by identifying placed-based priorities, determining which communities to target for consultations, and informing which interventions will be the most effective for maximising SWR’s social impact. It will also be used to inform SWR’s Customer and Communities Improvement Fund and the communities and people section of SWR’s Sustainability Strategy.