Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

70 Trains a Day to Be Axed on Key Commuter Routes into London

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

70 Trains a Day to Be Axed on Key Commuter Routes into London

Article excerpt

Byline: DICK MURRAY

MORE than 70 trains a day nearly five per cent of the service - are to be axed on some of the busiest routes serving London, it was revealed today.

The move by South West Trains will reduce services on lines between Southampton, Reading and Guildford via Woking into Waterloo.

SWT and the governing Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), which has approved the drastic reduction, say the cuts will only apply off-peak and are designed to improve timekeeping for rush-hour trains.

Commuters, however, were quick to point out that many trains are crowded all day because people no longer work conventional times. With the huge increase in flexible hours and commuters travelling throughout the day thousands of passengers will suffer.

The rail operator admitted that as a result of the "relatively small alterations . . .

some stations will lose out". It

is a huge gamble by SWT which operates more than 1,700 services carrying 350,000 passengers a day - quickly to improve the frequently appalling peak-time services into the capital on tracks so crowded they cannot take any more trains. The company said extra services introduced since privatisation had "overloaded" track capacity.

In the year ending last October, Stagecoach-owned SWT was fined u9.5million for late running trains, the second highest amount of all the 25 passenger train operators. A senior SWT source said: "A total of 74 trains a day will be cut or reduced from September."

The move outraged Wendy Toms, chairman of the watchdog Rail Passengers Committee for Southern England, who said she had not been consulted about which trains would be axed.

She said the failure to consult the watchdog was yet another example of a "statutory passenger committee being sidelined by the SRA". Mrs Toms blamed the crowded tracks on Railtrack, now Network Rail, which had "sold" too many paths to the operators. …

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