Portsmouth rail commuters miss out on £210m boost


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SOUTH West Trains is pouring £210m into upgrading its rolling stock – but Portsmouth commuters won’t see a penny of it.

The company is placing an order for 150 new carriages from Siemens and Angel Trains for its Waterloo to Windsor route.

Public transport campaigners have criticised the plan, which leaves out improvements to Portsmouth’s cramped and crowded rail links.

A spokeswoman from South West Trains said: ‘There won’t be any changes to Portsmouth services as a result of the new trains.

‘They are designed to provide much-needed extra capacity on some of our busiest routes.’

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said commuters had long been getting a raw deal from South West Trains.

Ms Mordaunt said she met with executives from the train company and Rail Minister Claire Perry earlier this week to talk about improving the Portsmouth to London service.

She said: ‘It’s delightful for Windsor but the fight goes on for better services for Portsmouth.’

Ms Mordaunt said the area was served by suburban trains which were not suitable for long-distance travel.

She said: ‘The thing that would make the biggest difference is having trains that are comfortable to sit on, and that have enough seats for people.

‘Surveys show 59 per cent of people cannot fit into the seats when their elbows are taken into account.’

Denis Fryer, of Totton, is co-ordinator of the South Hampshire Rail Users’ Group.

He said he was disappointed by the announcement.

He said: ‘It seems we’re left out time after time.’

Mr Fryer said a Passenger Focus survey placed customer satisfaction in the Portsmouth area 78th out of 79 areas across the country.

He said: ‘Since privatisation, trains on the Portsmouth line in particular have been downgraded.

‘The trains they’re running are not suited to long distance and it now takes 10 per cent longer to get to London.

Campaign for Better Transport head of campaigns James MacColl called on the government to develop a long-term strategy for train improvements: ‘Increased investment in the railways is great news for everybody who relies on these trains.

‘However passengers in Portsmouth will be frustrated that South West’s new trains won’t benefit the city’.