The following text is on Michael Gove’s website. It’s been reported in several places already, but it’s sufficiently relevant to the Eye that we’re reproducing it here:
“Michael Gove today (Wednesday 26th April) spoke to representatives from First Group, the train company taking over the South Western Rail Franchise, to ensure changes were put in place to improve services for Surrey Heath residents.
“Last month, Michael organised a meeting with Surrey County Councillor, Mike Goodman, Surrey Heath Borough Councillor, Charlotte Morley, and the team leading the First Group bid, in order to demand quicker journey times from Camberley, Frimley and Bagshot to London.
“Their meeting followed extensive lobbying of Rail Minister Paul Maynard (see picture attached) to ensure whichever company secured the South Western Rail Franchise improved services from Surrey Heath.
“Today, in talks with First Group’s Bid Director, Owen Hazell, Michael secured guarantees that peak journey times from Camberley to London would be slashed by 16 minutes and off-peak times cut by 13-14 minutes.
“Speaking after their conversation, Michael said:
“”I’m delighted that First Group will make changes that should make commuters’ lives easier. The journey time from Camberley to London is ridiculously long, and cutting around a quarter of an hour off the journey to ensure it can be done in less than sixty minutes, is very welcome. This change would not have occurred without the dedicated work of Charlotte Morley and Mike Goodman in lobbying Government.”
“First Group also confirmed that new trains would not only be faster but equipped with wifi and at-seat charging points.
“Additional money will also be made available to improve station facilities. But no firm commitment was made to investing in Surrey Heath stations.
“”The next stage of our campaign will be ensuring we get the investment we need to improve station facilities, especially at Camberley and Ash Vale. Camberley Station desperately needs improvement, and access to Ash Vale needs to be improved, especially for those with mobility difficulties. I look forward to campaigning for the investment we need.”
The Eye’s photo accompanying this item dates from last year. It shows the pavement sinking around the station – hence the striped tape, barrier and cone. You can also just about make out the rusting steel panels that form the walls. Michael Gove’s final paragraph is none too soon!