Craig Owen, Rhonda Evans and Rob Newbery, Labour Party candidates for Heathfield, wrote to South West Trains (SWT) in January to raise concerns over congested and delayed trains through Whitton station. They asked SWT to set out how the company planned to ease congestion on the line and tackle delays.
Responding to the letter, SWT said:
“We try to anticipate numbers based on previous figures, counts and research; however it is ultimately our passengers who choose the service they travel on.
“The fact remains, however, that whilst we provide the service, we do not dictate the actual time the passenger travels at.”
The candidates welcomed the planned introduction of 48 more carriages in 2014 in addition to the 108 extra carriages on peak trains between summer 2013 and summer 2014, although congestion continues to remain an issue despite this increase in capacity.
The three candidates also raised concerns over the poor state of Whitton station, particularly graffiti.
Speaking on behalf of the candidates, Craig Owen said:
“We welcome the increase in capacity over 2013/14 however, it is totally unfair for South West Trains to blame passengers for congestion. The company should have planned for the projected increase in passenger numbers when Government awarded the franchise back in 2006.
“Evidently these additional carriages do not go far enough in easing congestion on peak services via Whitton station.
“We will respond to South West Trains to ask specifically which services will receive additional carriages this year and to push for the removal of graffiti on the station’s walkway and station signs.”