The Regional Rail Investment Plan
The WinACC Transport Action Group will consider how to respond to the planned £200m year regional investment in the rail network published in Network Rail Strategic Business Plan.
In between the diagrams there are many encouraging things:
· A 25% reduction in emissions per passenger kilometre (mostly because of electrification)
· A £35 billion overall expenditure programme
· A £1billion programme for expenditure on lines used by South West Trains.
On page 77 of the Wessex Route Plan they admit that the two most important schemes for Winchester may not happen until 2019 or after, and that details have not been developed in time to be included in the plan:
· Using the former Channel Tunnel Rail Link platforms to ease congestion at Waterloo
· Re-electrifying the line from Basingstoke to Southampton
· A better service to Clapham Junction.
The Great Western route plan includes a link from Reading to Heathrow (which would give direct rail access from Winchester), and better services to Paddington.
There is much good news in all this. There will be complete renewal of the line between Basingstoke and Southampton, and with the 'electric spine' there will also be a considerable need for capacity improvements. All this probably adds up to the biggest railway investment in Winchester since 1839.
It is not yet decided precisely how this will affect services. The door is wide open for Hampshire and Winchester to lobby for specific improvements like the Southampton Metro, additional platforms at Winchester, a station at Whiteley, more trains to Portsmouth, a flyover at Eastleigh. The plans say quite clearly that in general there will have to be more trains, especially on lines into Waterloo, but the detail is yet to be decided.
An excellent example of a lobbying document shows Essex, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk have refined their case for improvements and they will probably get what they want. A similar case for improvements could be made for the Wessex Route, especially since Network Rail are proposing to spend £1bn on renewals and enhancements anyway.
Recently, local authorities that have lobbied have had surprising success. Buckinghamshire even managed to get a commitment to build an electrified main line from Oxford to Milton Keynes!
Perhaps LEP funding could be used to produce a similar document for the Winchester area, especially if it were linked to the proposals to develop the station area and increase high value employment.
If you want to share your views contact the Transport Group.