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Rail User Groups warn of potential cuts to rail services

 

Passenger anger at plans for rail cuts


A WAVE of cuts to rail services could hit south Hampshire if controversial plans are given the go-ahead.

Services from smaller stations could be hit if plans to reward operators with financial incentives to make cuts are brought forward.

The move could hit offpeak trains from stations such as Chandler’s Ford and smaller Southampton stations, according to the South Hampshire Rail Users Group.

Under the plans unveiled by a coalition of 50 organisations, train firms would be offered a proportion of the money they save in cutting a service from the Department for T r a n s p o r t (DfT).

The South Hampshire Rail Users Group have criticised the plan, saying it would reduce services and discourage people from using trains.

Denis Fryer, from the group, said: “Smaller stations could be at risk.

Perhaps the likes of Chandler’s Ford, Swaythling Millbrook and Redbridge would be reduced to just peak services.”

According to the coalition of groups, the plans are contained in a DfT consultation document called The Future of Rail Franchising.

The coalition says that the document states: “Under the current process there is no incentive for operators to make sensible changes to services that are no longer justified.”

It goes on: “The Department is therefore considering amending the current franchise agreement so that, where operators propose sensible measures to reduce costs during their franchise term, they will be rewarded by receiving a proportion of these savings.”

Mr Fryer believed that combining a reduction in services with an increase in ticket costs could lead to huge reductions in the number of train users.

“The trouble is South West Trains introduced a 20 per cent surcharge on arriving in London before noon, they’ve lost traffic that way already.

“If you reduce the service and increase the price, it’s doubly counter productive.”

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) has also criticised the potential move, saying that it paved the way for rail cuts.

Cat Hobbs from the CBT said: “Passengers must be given the chance to comment when services are cut.”

A spokesperson for the DfT said: “This proposal would only allow for service level changes with the Department’s agreement and where operators can demonstrate they are justified

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