IMPROVEMENTS could be made to Portsmouth’s train lines in the future, but there is no ‘quick fix’, according to one government transport minister.
Robert Goodwill MP yesterday took part in a Commons debate on Portsmouth Harbour railway services, initiated by Gosport’s member of Parliament, Caroline Dinenage.
Mr Goodwill said trains to the city are currently ‘at full capacity’, and that the current infrastructure is keeping journey times between London and Portsmouth Harbour long.
‘There are issues of great concern for many passengers who use train services on the route from Portsmouth to London,’ he said.
‘I agree that the speed of those journeys is somewhat slower than on other routes that connect our cities, with the 74-mile journey between Portsmouth and London Waterloo taking about 90 minutes.
‘My honourable friend will be aware that there are legitimate reasons for that, which must be borne in mind.
‘There is no quick fix, and I will not suggest there is. I am not saying, however, that improvements are not possible, and with the right conditions, journey times can be improved and extra main line capacity added.’
Ms Dinenage, who has raised railways in the region in Parliament on a number of occasions, said: ‘Proximity to London is no use for people south of the capital if we cannot actually get there.
‘It takes as long to get up to London from Portsmouth as it does to travel down from Doncaster.
‘If passengers make the pilgrimage from Portsmouth to London, their journey to the busiest station in the UK is rarely pleasant.’
Portsmouth South MP, Mike Hancock, also took part in the debate.
He said: ‘I must say that Portsmouth Harbour station has varied very little in the 60 years since I mudlarked underneath it as a kid.
‘My goodness me, that station needs something done to it. The railways are booming but, sadly, many of the stations and much of the rolling stock are busted. That just is not good enough for the people whom the honourable member for Gosport and I represent. They deserve better and they need to see better delivery of the service that they pay an awful lot of money to use.’