Southern
powerhouse also needs top rail service

COMMENT: People need to have viable alternative to driving

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Yet again an influential group of Hampshire movers and shakers makes a plea for 21st century rail services in this part of the world.

Yet again we support their views, but we wonder how many more times we shall need to stand on this particular soapbox and try to make someone, somewhere listen.

We, and they, are not just talking about the derisory peak hours’ service between Portsmouth-area stations and Waterloo.

We are also continuing to try to persuade somebody to do something about the grindingly slow links between Portsmouth and Southampton.

As Hampshire County Council’s transport boss Cllr Sean Woodward says: ‘It should be possible to get from Southampton to Portsmouth quicker on the train than it is on the M27.’

It’s all very well watching the government pour billions into HS2 to ‘rebalance the economy’ and send jobs and investment north of the Watford Gap, or have huge drilling machines bore beneath London creating new Crossrail tunnels.

But when you head south out of Waterloo there’s an awful lot of England to cover before you hit the Channel – and the people who make this journey are stuck with some of the slowest and most overcrowded trains in the country.

The South West Trains carriages that arrive at Waterloo each morning include the second busiest train in the UK. It takes longer to get from Portsmouth to London than it does to get to Doncaster, a distance which is twice as far.

And as for Gosport – the largest town in the UK not to have a railway station...

We are getting weary of banging this particular drum, but not half as tired as London commuters on the 6.11am from Havant to Waterloo which trundles into the capital one hour and 34 minutes later at 7.45am.