On Thursday, I met with Becky Lumlock, Route Managing Director for the Wessex route at Network Rail. We discussed the 3-phase strategy for easing overcrowding and delivering better rail services for passengers.
First, improvement works are due to take place at London Waterloo from 5 to 28 August. This will have an impact on the three train lines that serve us in the Esher and Walton constituency (the Guildford, Hampton Court and Woking lines). The purpose of the works is to extend platforms 1 to 4 and modify platforms 5 to 8 at Waterloo to enable new minimum 10-carriage trains to operate across the network by the end of 2017. Most trains running on the Working line are already 12-cars in length, but the works will enable longer trains to run on the other two lines meaning that all 9 stations in our constituency will benefit. The upgrade will introduce 150 air-conditioned and more spacious carriages with improved facilities, free WiFi and better on-board train information.
During the works, no stations in the constituency will close, but there will be a 57% reduction in services across the network for a limited period. The table below shows the rough weekday train frequency for all of our 9 stations, to give you a sense of the service running. Network Rail’s advice is to plan ahead and be flexible, and to travel outside of peak times where possible. Full service will resume on Tuesday 29 August.
This will be frustrating, but it is important to recognise the substantial benefits the works will bring. You can read more about the upgrade here, and check train timetables for your specific line here.
The second phase of the strategy, beyond the August works, includes introducing greater ‘digitalisation’ of rail services by the mid -2020s. Once we have the longest trains practicable, the way to increase services and ease overcrowding is to digitalise the system to enable trains to run with greater frequency.
Finally, over the longer-term, we discussed the positive impact that CrossRail 2 will have on easing overcrowding and congestion on our trains, as well as increasing the frequency, speed and number of destinations across London for local passengers.