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Rail passengers prepare for disruption over Christmas

Hundreds of thousands of train passengers who use Great Western are facing major disruption over Christmas with some services taking up to 90 minutes longer than usual.

From late on Christmas Eve the line from Reading into Paddington will close for four days with services diverted to Waterloo.

Network Rail say 20,000 engineers will be out working on the lines. But passengers fear a repeat of the chaos last Christmas when engineering work overran. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports.


Oxford barrister 'could be biggest rail fare dodger in UK'

A barrister from Oxford, thought to be the biggest train fare dodger to be prosecuted in the UK, will appear in court so that the losses caused can be determined.

Peter Barnett, 44, is said to have spent more than two years avoiding paying for his ticket, causing a loss of £23,000 to Chiltern Railways.

He regularly travelled from his Oxford home to London Marylebone but pretended to have only travelled from Wembley, north-west London.

Barnett argues that he only dodged up to £9,714.40, saying that the amount should be based on the cost of a weekly ticket and take into account annual leave.

Westminster Magistrates' Court was told: "If it is accepted that the loss was £23,000, this defendant would be convicted of the biggest rail evasion case that has come to the court in the United Kingdom."

Barnett admits six counts of fraud by false representation.


Longer platforms, longer trains

Start of work to extend platform at Hever Stn Credit: Network Rail

The Tonbridge MP Tom Tugendhat has formally marked the start of a project that will extend twelve station platforms between Edenbridge and Uckfield. The project will allow the introduction of 10-coach trains that will reduce crowding on the Uckfield line and help to meet growing passenger demand. The new longer trains will increase capacity on the line during the morning peak by 50% from July 2016.

Network Rail will build the longer platforms and infrastructure, and Southern Railway will lease, refurbish and run the trains.

“I am pleased that the platform extensions on the Uckfield line are taking place and will be completed soon. This will mean that commuters and other rail users will be able to have a more comfortable journey as trains are able to take extra carriages. Work is now underway and this will be a huge benefit to the local community in providing a better train service. I look forward to the completion of the work early next year”.

– Tom Tugendhat MP

Radical plans could ease overcrowding on trains

Commuters in the Thames Valley have long complained of severe overcrowding on the trains.

But that could be about to change. First Great Western says it has listened - and in a radical move the rail operator is to rip out most of its first class carriages.

That should provide an extra 3,500 seats a week. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports.

Should we pay to keep trains running in Scotland and Wales?

Rail passengers in the South East are paying millions of pounds in fares to keep trains running in other parts of the country, a new report has revealed.

Figures from the Office of Road and Rail suggest the money is being diverted to subsidise less popular routes in Scotland, Wales and the North - like those connecting towns and cities in Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Fred spoke to Seb Gordon from the Rail Delivery Group which represents train operators.

Drunk passengers: we join police on the frontline

There has been a big rise in violence and sexual offences on the South's railways according to new figures from the British Transport Police. But the force say overall crime is down for the eleventh year in a row.

In our region, there were more than 11,500 crimes on the rail network in the past year - that's down 7 per cent.

There were 13 per cent fewer thefts reported.

But drunk passengers on our trains remains one of the key problems. Our Transport Correspondent, Mike Pearse, spent the night with officers on the frontline in Brighton.

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