Yesterday I hosted a rail meeting in Worcester Park alongside my colleague, James Berry, the Conservative MP for Kingston and Surbiton, at the Royal British Legion Club on Central Road.
James and I were joined on the panel by some special guests:
- Christian Roth, Chief Executive of South West Trains;
- Arthur Pretorius, Head of Customer Services for South West Trains;
- Geoff Hobbs, Head of Transport Planning at Transport for London (TfL);
- Chris Curtis, Head of Crossrail 2 for Network Rail.
I introduced the meeting and said a few words about what my constituents had raised with me, such as overcrowding at Worcester Park station and on the trains.
James then moved onto talking about the need to ensure the funding is there to deliver projects like Crossrail 2, to address the lack of capacity on South West Trains and the potential TfL takeover of London’s suburban rail services.
Christian took over and made the point that they are now moving 240 million passengers per year. Every morning between 100,000 and 130,000 people move through Waterloo every morning. He made the point that the biggest problem they face is lack of investment in the railway, nevertheless, they are undertaking a redevelopment of the whole of Waterloo station next August, and so a temporary timetable will be in place. The final point he touched on was the renewal of the franchise, which they are bidding on next year.
Geoff moved onto talking about the problems in London overall, especially capacity. He made the point that rail matters now more than ever before given that more and more jobs are being created in the City. The problem in trying to meet the demand has a lot to do with the infrastructure, such as old junctions and signalling, as well as trains now being fit for purpose. Overground trains just cannot turn around at a station as quickly as the Tube can. TfL are looking to take on a contractual role in managing all of London’s rail services, and looking to make positive changes to improve frequency and reliability of trains.
Chris finished up the introductory remarks by discussing how Crossrail 2 would link up Worcester Park with previously hard to reach areas of London. In terms of the affect locally, the infrastructure works would be minimal. Half of the existing services from Worcester Park would convert to Crossrail 2 and then they would add more. Trains would run to Victoria and commuters would be able to get into Tottenham Court Road in just 25 minutes. Worcester Park station will benefit with being rebranded and upgraded, and a public consultation on Crossrail 2 will begin next month.
I then opened up questions to the floor and there were several themes that came up in the questions that were asked. Unsurprisingly, one of the most common themes related to overcrowding and the frequency of rail services. Christian and Arthur informed the audience that at peak times, all available rolling stock is used. They have new rolling stock coming in soon and 10 carriage trains will be rolled out in December 2017. The bid for the next franchise and Waterloo upgrade will also allow for extra capacity. Geoff also told the audience that they will benefit from up to a possible 8 Crossrail 2 trains an hour, and Chris elaborated on TfL’s plans to modernise the railway infrastructure to allow for faster turnaround of trains.
Station skipping also came up a lot in the questions. Christian and Arthur admitted that this does occur, but only to maintain the free flow of rail services. Otherwise subsequent trains would be delayed and commuters would lose up to two trains an hour, so unfortunately, station skipping becomes necessary. However, their plans for the next franchise include improving information on platforms and on the trains, so customer are better informed of alterations to their services.
Finally, there were questions about the level of disruption customers were going to have to face when Waterloo gets upgraded, in addition to Crossrail 2 being rolled out. Christian and Arthur advised that there was never a good time to close stations at Waterloo, but the time has come to bite the bullet and go ahead with big upgrade projects, which are needed to improve these services. The old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo will operate while Platforms 1-4 are closed to try and mitigate the disruption. Chris reassured residents that disruption in terms of Crossrail 2 will be minimal for Worcester Park.
I want to thank all the guests for coming to answer questions from residents’. I think the meeting was very positive, and I was pleased to hear some residents’ had positive feedback about the service provided by South West Trains.
We were also lucky to have neighbouring MP and Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, in the audience and I hope he found the comments useful to feed into the hard work he is doing to improve rail services in the country.
There is a lot to follow-up on from the meeting and attached is a spreadsheet of all the questions that were asked, in addition to the answers that were given.
I also want to say a big thank you to the Royal British Legion for hosting us and especially to the residents who came along and made their views known to the panel.
|Worcester Park Rail Meeting Questions|
|Question||Answer||Any Further Action?|
|Can the waste bins at Worcester Park station be put back?||SW: Believe there are bins there, but will check with station manger.||SW: Check with station manager and report back.|
|What can be done to address trains running less frequently at weekends?||SW: Fully aware that weekends are busier than they used to be, but plans for more trains with new franchise.||No further action.|
|Has an assessment been done of the safety concerns regarding large gaps between trains and platforms?||TfL: Old instrastructure means curved platforms and gaps and inevitable. Plus all rail companies have different rolling stock. Tube all uniform. SW: Agree with TfL that they’re just built that way, but new franchise should improve situation.||No further action.|
|Will the EU referendum result have an affect on staffing?||PS and JB: Should have no affect on staffing.||No further action.|
|Can we have more trains at peak times?||SW: All available trains are used, more rolling stock coming.||No further action.|
|Is it possible to get a map of the proposed Crossrail 2 route?||NR: Map available here: http://crossrail2.co.uk/the-route/.||No further action.|
|Where can a copy of the TfL plans for London rail be found?||TfL: Plans can be seen here: https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/how-we-work/planning-for-the-future/developing-the-rail-network.||No further action.|
|Do you realise just how disruptive the Waterloo reconstruction will be?||SW: Never going to be a good time to close Waterloo, but has to be done to allow for more capacity in future. TfL: Agreed all small, short term solutions have been done. Need big projects now.||No further action.|
|Can cycles be banned at peak times?||SW: Sensitive subject depending on what side of the debate you’re on. More investment in cycling then any other rail operator. Cycle facilities at all stations.||No further action.|
|Can you improve your responses on social media?||SW: Social media is relatively new and grows all the time, and isn’t always the appropriate forum to deal with problems.||No further action.|
|After the trees were cut down, the noise from the station has become louder. Can we have a noise barrier?||SW: Noise barriers very expensive, wouldn’t be appropraite for Worcester Park.||PS to take up with SW and the Council.|
|The bike storage facility has replaced an old entrance to the station. Can this be re-opened?||SW: All part of modernisation plan. New smart ticketing should reduce pile-ups at entrances.||No further action.|
|Can we have more information when trains are going to skip stations?||SW: Fair question and information can be improved and will be in new franchise. Station skipping only done when necessary and to avoid further delays.||No further action.|
|When will the old Eurostar stations come into use again?||SW: They will become partially used when Waterloo closes platforms 1-4 next year, then come into full operation.||No further action.|
|Can something be done about the netting/road works going on outside Worcester Park station?||PS: More of a Council issue. Problems in Central Road and at junction are a nightmare. Need Kingston and Sutton Council to talk to each other, TfL and the Highways Agency.||PS and JB to take up seperately.|
|Can we have another ticket machine as there’s always long queues?||SW: New ticket machines have been rolled out, but more to smart ticketing should ease situation.||No further action.|
|Can something be done about the graffiti on station premises?||SW: Graffiti does get cleaned off. New fences and anti-climb paint has been installed at station. Work closely with British Transport Police to catch offenders.||No further action.|
|Trains sometimes arrive early, but sometimes leave early too. Can this be stopped?||SW: Done to prevent delays and ensure no knock-on effect to other services.||No further action.|
|Why is HS2 going ahead when there’s other rail improvements it can be spent on?||PS and JB: It’s not a question of either/or. Both need to be done to improve services. TfL: Agree both need to be done and will link up Worcester Park with HS2.||No further action.|
|The improvements and Crossrail 2 will take 10+ years. What can be done in the interim?||NW: All small solutions undertaken, time has come for the big work, but more carriages and new franchise should see more short term solutions. TfL: Plans to improve London rail network should see more improvements.||No further action.|
|Can there be a permanent barrier to stop travellers coming back to Worcester Park station?||SW: Happy to work with Council on this.||PS and JB to take up seperately.|
|Will new rolling stock be less affected by extreme weather and fallen leaves?||SW: New rolling stock better equipped to deal with weather and leaves.||No further action.|
|Can we have residents parking in surrounding roads?||PS: Currently a public consultation on Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) across the Borough.||Residents to take part in consultation.|
|Can trains run later or even 24 hours?||SW: Because of old infrastructure the nighttime is used for maintenance works. New franchise does inlcude later running trains.||No further action.|
|When will we have 10 carriage trains?||SW: 10 carriage trains coming in December 2017.||No further action.|
|How do we get Oyster Card refunds?||TfL: Can be done by calling number or emailing back of TfL website.||PS to take up with constituent seperately.|
|Are there safety concerns with more capacity, especially when it comes to closing the doors. With packed platforms, guards/drivers might not see people getting off.||SW: No plans to have any fewer than two staff members on the train and new rolling stock should reduce risk.||No further action.|
|Will there be improvements to pre-booked assistance for diabled commuters?||SW: Improvements will be made and do take these concerns very seriously.||No further action.|