Southampton Set To Benefit from £9bn Rail Investment

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In the recently announced rail investment plans by the coalition, Southampton has been marked as one of the locations for improvement, with a more efficient electrified line stretching all the way to parts of the West Midlands and Yorkshire planned. This has the potential to decrease passenger journey times for students returning or leaving home and also to decrease the significance of the “north/south divide”, according to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

The full £9.4 billion scheme is welcome news to passengers and business alike across the country who have been promised investment for some time. As well as improvements to passenger and freight corridors along the ‘spine’ of the country, major cities will see improvements to their capacity. In particular, the East Coast Main Line will benefit from quicker journey times and there will be a new £500m link from the Great Western Line to Heathrow. Although the proposed changes are unlikely to come into effect until the end of this government in 2015 – and are not expected to be finished until 2019 – many have spoken of their support for the plans.

Chris Huhne, the MP for Eastleigh, has welcomed the plans for electrification along the Southampton to Basingstoke line, and those working in the port industry believe it will also safeguard a number of jobs, with the capacity to dramatically improve freight transport, as well as investment allowing greater accessibility to the industrial hub of the North of England.  

This overhead electrification will allow electric passenger and freight trains to run all the way down from the north and the Midlands to the port of Southampton, improving reliability, encouraging freight to move from the roads, reducing maintenance costs and cutting pollution.

Chris Huhne
MP for Eastleigh

Currently, the average journey to Sheffield takes approximately four hours, while Students from Manchester have on average four and a half hour journeys. With a large segment of this line planned to be electrified, it is conceivable that journey times could be cut by up to 10%. However, the cost of train travel may still deter people from regularly using the train.

With a return journey to Manchester – without railcards or discounts – currently costing close to £100 and one to Sheffield costing around the same, current students don’t look set to benefit immediately from the scheme, though future students at the University could benefit from greater links to industry across the country as plans are expected to come to completion in 2019.

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Discussion2 Comments

  1. avatar

    I don’t see how this will benefit Southampton though? Other than the replacement of diesel trains by electric ones it has very little benefit.

    The only improvement is saving maybe half an hour on the journey time from Sheffield via London. The major hurdle in fast journey times between the north-west and Southampton are that the train stops frequently, but this can be overcome by going via London. I personally have travelled from Southampton to Liverpool in a little over 4hrs 30min.

    All in all, I see a lot of wasted money just so Network Rail and the TOC can benefit from more profits.

    And from what I see the £9bn is coming from ticket prices so an already expensive ticket will just get worse!

  2. avatar

    It seems the upgrade at Southampton Central may have been decided some 18 months ago when the then Transport Minister was angry that he could not even get a cup of tea in the station – at 6.30 pm on a Sunday evening. Lucky for Southampton!

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