You may remember that, back in January this year, we wrote about a major Network Rail study into the future of rail transport in our part of the country (http://wp.me/p3Dlu2-1uU)
The study was a lengthy consultation document, and it received over two hundred responses. The final version, a little more than six months later, has now been issued.
Under the heading ‘New or Re-opened Infrastructure’, the final version states:
“…a number of people in and around Camberley suggested that the Sturt Lane Chord (which used to connect the Ascot to Aldershot line with the South West Main Line to the east of Farnborough) should be reinstated as a means of improving journey times to Waterloo from the Frimley and Camberley areas. A more cost-effective solution, however, may be to improve connection times with Waterloo-bound trains at Ash Vale.”
Reinstating the Sturt Lane Chord is the only realistic way of radically speeding the train service to London. It would seem, however, that this option has been pretty much ruled out for some years at least. This is not really a surprise; EnterpriseM3 – the source of much of the funding for improvements in the ‘M3 region’, and which is, for example, paying for the impending upgrading of the Meadows Roundabout – said in its own response to the consultation document:
“We understand that the Sturt Chord has detrimental impacts on mainline capacity and as such is an impractical option to allow services to operate from Bagshot, Camberley and Frimley directly along the South West Main Line. However, if Camberley is to realise its ambitions as a Step-Up Town there is an urgent need to identify alternative options for improving connectivity and accessibility in this area. There is a need to help maximise the significant growth potential of the Camberley area, which continues to be constrained by the longer journey time to both London and Heathrow than other comparable towns in the area. [We] would therefore wish to see the introduction of 2 trains per hour throughout the day on this corridor. [We are] planning to fund a package of measures designed to fully realise the potential of Camberley, enable regeneration of the town centre, and support business growth that will deliver high value jobs. The projects aim to improve the ability of people to move in and around of the town centre through better transport connections, to enable major redevelopment of retail and residential, and deliver…”
Although the Network Rail study makes no promises, the two trains per hour aspiration is one of the options that it lists. But, in the near term, the only improvement that we’re likely to see is the introduction of ten-carriage trains. (If you remember the old days, when trains from London used to stop with their rear carriages blocking the level crossing, you’ll be ready for the new regime when the same thing will happen again.) Hardly the most exciting of outlooks!