Camberley’s future train service: better, perhaps, but not good

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.

Network Rail final studyb

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!

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19 thoughts on “Camberley’s future train service: better, perhaps, but not good

  1. I have recently got a job in London. I now drive from Camberley to Farnborough to get the train there. Camberley to London services are just too long so I add petrol fumes to the morning air, and will continue to do so unless and until there is a decent service from Camberley to London.

    • My guess is, Louise, that you’re stuck with it. I think we should see some timetabling improvements, with less time wasted at various places, and more through trains. But nothing radical. On the other hand, the priority for quite a few travellers seems to be less hassle rather than faster journeys. The ability to get on a train, and read or whatever in comfort, until reaching the destination, has a lot of appeal.

    • My understanding (never 100% reliable!) is that 10-carriage trains are being introduced in the whole region, so it’s not special treatment for Camberley. In fact, in some parts they’ve been running for about a year (I need to check when they actually started). The intention is that the remotely operated doors will only open for that part of the train that’s next to the platform.

  2. Camberley Society held an evening to explore the Camberley isolated train issue, and one very easy option surfaced.

    Our longer, but direct Camberley route to Waterloo [via Ascot] was designed originally to be prioritised in our favour… sadly Reading Hi-jacked our only route. This was wrong in so many ways, and yet another example of poor representation for Surrey Heath.

    Reading have High Speed link to London, they can join the Camberley train at Ascot if they wish.

    Michael Gove, who was at the meeting, heard the reaction to the this very sensible option.
    Return the Camberley Waterloo line to those that live in Surrey.

    • That’s the ‘more through trains’ argument in another guise, of course. But if you look at the agreed points arising from that Feb meeting, it’s either not there or it’s implicit but buried in some other point. Yet, as was said, it wouldn’t involve any change in infrastructure or any investment.

  3. You are right, that was my point. “Not More trains..” they need to address the core issue

    Key transport facility serving GU15/Blackwater Valley was simply given to Berkshire/RG.
    A much lower class Town needing sponsor to fight for GU15.. [Perhaps we need an MP !]

  4. No one seems to have pointed out that we have had 2 trains per hour to Ascot for years. It’s the changing stations,especially when its cold and wet, (and the disabled don’t stand a chance) that is irritating and time consuming. We should have the through trains to Waterloo as was originally planned.

    • I’m not a commuter, but although there are two trains an hour to London, doesn’t one change at Ascot and the other at Ash Vale? That doesn’t change the damp platform changes, just the places!

    • Denise, that’s my impression from February’s meeting. There didn’t seem to be a lot of ‘lobbying’ from the floor for fast trains – the 50 minute campaign – but improving what we’ve got, and doing away with the hassle of Ascot and Ash Vale interchanges, was well to the fore. I’ll have to re-listen to the audio recording.

  5. The answer seems to me to be that the Ascot-Guildford service be split in 2 – 1 service Ascot-Aldershot and another Aldershot-Guildford. Yes you have to change at Aldershot to go through but this would free up the rolling stock to re-time the whole thing so that the trains connect properly at Ash Vale

    • Well, we know who to approach in SWT with constructive suggestions. No doubt there are – genuine – reasons why the obvious isn’t so obvious in practice, but there’s no harm in asking.

  6. Absolute rubbish. Typical, before the election Gove is all over this, now he has been relected, not a peep. Camberley need and deserves a DIRECT frequent service to London, not some half baked second rate service via Ash Vale. If mainline capacity is an issue, increase capacity. But the government would rather spend tax payers money on HS2 which no one except them want.

  7. Rt Hon Michael Gove.

    To be honest not sure he can have any Bandwidth to represent/fight Surrey Heath issues.
    He does have a “serious day Job” ?!

    Perhaps try our MEP ..

    Parliamentary career* Current Government Post
    Post Date
    * Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice May 2015 –
    Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip Jul 2014 – May 2015
    Secretary of State for Education May 2010 – Jul 2014

    • That’s a fair comment. But it does mean that the good citizens of Surrey Heath might not be getting their ‘fair share’ of representation. Maybe Secretary’s of State should give up their MP day job – or at least have a recognised ‘deputy MP’.

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