We need a faster train service to the capital

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When transport minister Patrick McLoughlin took the train to Portsmouth to discuss the rail service, he arrived at Fratton station 40 minutes late.

You couldn’t make it up, could you? Apparently the delay was down to a combination of trespassers on the line causing services to be suspended and a guard not turning up for duty.

Of course, it wasn’t Mr McLoughlin’s fault. But his experiences seem to serve to underline the fact that too many people travelling between London and Portsmouth have to pay a lot of money for a rail service that should be better.

Credit to him for being honest enough to admit that delays can be ‘very frustrating’ and that ‘it is essential that we do upgrade our railway network’.

Because the truth is that for too long passengers travelling to the capital from this city have had to put up with a sub-standard service.

Even without the inconvenience of delays, trains take far too long to get there.

Portsmouth South’s Tory parliamentary candidate Flick Drummond is right when she says the rail link between here and London must be improved.

It is not acceptable that Southampton commuters can get to London by train faster than those in Portsmouth, yet it is further away.

Ms Drummond’s suggestion of a faster train that runs from Portsmouth Harbour and goes to London with fewer stops is a sensible one. Meanwhile Mr McLoughlin believes re-opening platforms at Waterloo International Terminal will improve journey times by easing congestion. So that too needs to be explored.

Whoever is in power after May 7 must realise the crucial importance of our rail network and commit the investment necessary to ensure we have a service fit for the 21st century.