Train firm's pledge to commuters
COMMUTERS facing the daily battle to Waterloo should breathe a little easier when bigger and more regular trains are phased in over the next two years.
In an exclusive interview with The Chronicle, Tim Shoveller, South West Trains' managing director, outlined what the future holds for regular commuters, including the planned introduction of 'Oyster-style' swipe cards.
Mr Shoveller promised passengers from Reading to London will benefit from work to extend the size of the platforms on the Windsor & Eton Riverside to Waterloo line which will ease pressure on the busy Twickenham, Richmond and Clapham Junction stations.
He said: "The bigger trains will not serve Reading, but the trains are never full there anyway. The benefit comes when fewer passengers are getting on further up the line because bigger trains starting at Windsor will carry more people."
The longer trains, extended from eight to 10 carriages, are expected to be in place by next May, and 12 months later two extra peak time trains will be leaving from Reading - at 6.24am and 6.54am.
'Oyster-style' swipe cards are poised to be introduced and South West Trains are waiting for Transport for London to finish installing the facilities at that end.
Mr Shoveller said: "The big objective is ticketing because it is ridiculous that we still ticket customers with a piece of cardboard."
He believes it will be more efficient for passengers, but also enable train companies to be flexible with pricing and journey options, and it is hoped the swipe card system will be in place by the end of next year.
However, the little publicised alliance between Network Rail and South West Trains, has been in place since the end of April. The unique pilot brings the companies' 6,000 staff under one management structure and is in response to the Government's McNulty Report, published last year, which called for measures to reduce the rail industry's inefficiencies.
Mr Shoveller added: "Passengers won't see immediate differences to their day-to-day commute, but we are looking at making a difference in the middle-to-long term."
South West Trains manages 600 miles of track and 208 million passengers used their service in the last financial year, with the company turning over between £700m and £800m annually.