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Plans unveiled to transform rail services in the south

New plans by South West Trains hope to ease overcrowding Photo: ITV Meridian

Ambitious plans were put forward today by the South West Trains Network Rail Alliance to help cope with a big rise in passenger numbers. 600,000 people now use SWT every day and that figure is due to rise by 40 per cent. They include a possible new fleet of double-deck trains, new platforms and high speed services.

Commuters at Southampton, Guildford and Winchester complain they find it difficult to get a seat in the rush hour.

The multi-billion pound scheme is out for consultation for the next three month.

The draft study identifies priorities for the period from 2019 to 2024 – and looks ahead to 2043. A final report wil be published next year.

Potential options include:

  • New double-deck trains
  • Electrification to Salisbury
  • 125mph on some sections of track
  • Flyovers at Woking and Basingstoke
  • Extra platforms at Southampton Central and Guildford
  • Development of cab based signalling and automatic train operation
  • Extra track from Surbiton to Clapham Junction
  • Crossrail 2

Our railway already carries more than 220m passengers a year, and that number is predicted to grow significantly in the years ahead. Work we are already doing over the next five years will make a huge difference, including lengthening suburban trains and reopening the Waterloo International Terminal. But we need to do more, and do it quickly. The plans we are proposing in this study mean we will be able to cope with a forecast growth of 40 per cent on main line services over the next thirty years.

We are also looking at what kind of improvements we can offer in reliability and frequency by introducing new technology which will allow us to improve the network further. It’s fantastic that more and more people want to travel by train and we want to provide the railway to take them where they are going.

– Tim Shoveller, chief executive of the Network Rail-South West Trains Alliance

ITV Meridian's transport correspondent Mike Pearse has more: