Concerns have been raised over the number of cancellations on train services operated by struggling franchise South Western Railway.

In an annual assessment of the Southern region's rail services, The Office for Rail and Road have revealed that Weymouth-Waterloo line operator South Western Railway has fallen short on this year's targets for both cancellations and significant lateness and public performance.

This comes as the franchise's future is still being reviewed by the Department for Transport, with the government potentially taking control of the operation.

The figures show SWR has cancelled more than double its target for services throughout the past year, with 3.7 per cent of its services being cancelled, compared to an initial target of 1.7 per cent.

While the rail service was allocated a target of 4.1 per cent of services being cancelled or "significantly late" - by 30 minutes or more - this was also missed, as 5.7 per cent of its services this year resulted in cancellation of significant delays.

This is a big increase when compared to South Eastern train services, in which only 0.2 per cent more services were cancelled than the original target set out in 2019.

Another figure that SWR fell short of throughout the year was the Public Performance Measure (PPM), which measures the percentage of trains that arrive at the final destination within five minutes of schedule.

Only 80.5% of services fell under this category, 6.5% off from the original 87% target.

One route which had a particularly high level of cancellations was the Wessex Route, which rail chiefs say was "frustrating for passengers". The Wessex Route includes the Weymouth line.

John Larkinson, Chief Executive of ORR, said: “The region has made good progress in reducing delays to passenger services. However, it must now bring performance in its Wessex route up to the required level and focus on reducing cancellations, which are frustrating for passengers."

A SWR spokesman said: “We have been working closely with Network Rail to address performance on our network through our Joint Performance Improvement Centre (JPIC).

“The JPIC identified a worrying increase in trespass and sadly fatalities on our network, which led to the introduction of Trespass and Welfare Officers at known hotspots. Interventions by these officers has already resulted in a marked reduction in such incidents and the associated delays to passengers and the JPIC also identified temporary speed restrictions as another cause of delay.

"With fewer services operating during lockdown, Network Rail has taken the opportunity to use this time to carry out major engineering works in Guildford, Botley and on our West of England line, to improve the reliability of our railway and remove several delay causing speed restrictions.

“Before Covid we had started to see performance begin to move in the right direction, as lockdown eases we continue to work hard to build on the recent improvements in reliability and punctuality that we have delivered.”

Denis Fryer, co-ordinator of the South Hampshire Rail Users' Group has said that before lockdown began, rail performance across the region was "very poor", but he hopes this can improve when restrictions ease further.

He said: "Before the lockdown came into place in March, the performance in terms of cancellations and long delays was very poor, due to problems with infrastructure and so forth.

"But during this period of reduced timetables, it has improved and hopefully when full rail timetables are reinstated, things can improve further."

Network Rail were contacted for a comment.