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Public consultation launched on Wessex Route Study

A public consultation has been opened on plans to make sure the railway from London to the south and south west of England can continue to accommodate passenger growth in the years to come. 

The Wessex Route Study, put together with the help of Transport for London, the Department for Transport and train and freight operating companies, covers lines from London Waterloo to Reading, Southampton, Weymouth, Portsmouth and Exeter and includes suburban services in London and Surrey. 

The area covered by the Route Study contains some of the most densely trafficked routes in the country, with more than 55 trains arriving at London Waterloo every hour at the busiest times of day, and a significant amount of freight traffic operating to and from the Port of Southampton. 

Focusing on the priorities for Control Period 6 (2019 to 2024) – and looking ahead to 2043 –the study includes options to include new double-deck trains; electrification to Salisbury; trains running at 125mph on some sections of the track; flyovers at Woking and Basingstoke; extra platforms at Southampton Central and Guildford; the development of ca- based signalling and automatic train operation; extra track from Surbiton to Clapham Junction; and extra capacity with Crossrail 2. 

None of the proposals in the route study are funded, but the study does include some initial costs and business case assessments. 

Tim Shoveller, chief executive of the Network Rail-South West Trains Alliance, said: “Our railway already carries more than 220 million passengers a year, and that number is predicted to grow significantly in the years ahead. 

“Work we are already doing over the next five years will make a huge difference, including lengthening suburban trains and reopening the Waterloo International Terminal. But we need to do more, and do it quickly. 

“The plans we are proposing in this study mean we will be able to cope with a forecast growth of 40% on main line [R1] services over the next thirty years. We are also looking at what kind of improvements we can offer in reliability and frequency by introducing new technology which will allow us to improve the network further.” 

Looking at the priorities in CP6, the team identified a series of works “that would be commonly required regardless of the interventions chosen in the inner area in the longer term and would of themselves offer some incremental capacity benefit supporting up to 28tph operations on the Main Line.” These are: 

  • Woking Grade Separation (+ additional platform subject to stopping patterns)
  • Basingstoke Grade Separation. 

In addition to these a number of other outer interventions could be delivered earlier although their full benefit would only be realised once an inner area solution was completed, these are:

  • Southampton Central addition platform(s)
  • Guildford additional platforms. 

The consultation period will run until 18 February 2015, with the intention for the final Route Study document to be published in early summer 2015. 

To view the Wessex Route Study, and to take part in the consultation, click here

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