Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Well it’s a start

Posted in Commuter, Great Britain, Infrastructure, Justine Greening, London, Politics, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 23 December 2011

Yet again, the DfT seem to be coming through and doing things to improve the lot of the frazzled commuter. At least in London they are anyway. This time they have made it possible for South West Trains to obtain an additional 60 vehicles that will be used to lengthen trains from eight to ten cars. This will be the implementation of the proposal that first came about in February 2010, which will see the Class 460 units formerly used by Gatwick Express integrated with the similar Class 458 fleet. This will allow five-car Class 458 units to be coupled into ten-car trains, which (it is presumed) will go to be used on Windsor Line trains, which can then allow a cascade of other rolling stock within the operator that can see other trains also lengthened. Of course, that’s not the only thing. To make room for these longer trains and planned extra services, Platform 20, part of the Waterloo International complex, will finally be brought back into regular use. There will be investment in South West Trains’ facilities, all of which will go to the creation of new jobs. All super duper. For not a huge amount of cost, potentially significant economic benefits are created – new employment, better frequency of services allowing more people to get into their workplaces quicker. Everyone’s happy. Is this what McNulty had in mind? Of course, investment in London and the South East is one thing – it does often seem that it is, to coin a phrase, “piss easy” to get more money for the commuter railways into London. The trick is getting money to stregthen the rail service in other cities that are (or have the potential to be) major economic drivers. The Northern Hub for example has been estimated at in the region of £550m, and will be a series of works all around the north of England aimed at improving services into Manchester and Leeds. £550m is around the same as is being spent on the refurbishment of Kings Cross, and yet the case for it is still having to be made. Thankfully, slowly, it is starting to move, with the various electrification projects and construction of the Ordsall Curve. One hopes that this will be the start of a snowball effect of investment, otherwise the government will lay itself open to accusations from the north of favouring London. Again.

“London commuters to benefit from longer peak-time trains”
“Old Waterloo International platform to be used by SWT”

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One Response

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  1. Chris Phillips said, on 23 December 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Not only is it in the south east or up north that investment is occurring. On the Great Western, which serves my home town in Bath, more investment is flowing (Bath Spa station rebuilding, more carriages and re-signalling) at present than I can remember in the past 50 odd years. But this is nothing compared to what is to come – electrification, IEP (snigger), Reading rebuilding, re-doubling Swindon-Kemble etc etc.

    Whatever the doom mongers say, the railway in my part of the world is definitely heading to a better destination in 2011-12. And just to add a little contoversy, it is never the Labour party in power that does transport, and particularly the railways, any good when in office. Long may the coalition thrive!


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