Back in September 2016, there were bright orange plans for Hampton’s train services. Sadiq Khan had hoped that suburban rail services in South London would be run by TfL and branded as part of the Overground.
The Overground has seen great service level improvements, and the thought of one, unified railway for London sounded great. But, those plans came crashing down this week as the Government announced that a joint bid from First Group and MTR would take over South West Trains from August 2017.
The new franchise announced a whole raft of improvements which will be made across the network, but the Kingston Loop and Shepperton branch barely got a mention.
Yesterday we asked our followers on Twitter what improvements they’d like to see to the line, and as you can see below, by quite some margin, improvements to the frequency and speed of trains were resident’s number one priority.
We reached out to First Group to see whether any specific improvements have been highlighted for the branch line, and we were given a run-down of some information which may be coming our way;
- Providing free Wi-Fi at stations
- Introducing new carriages (90 trains) for Reading, Windsor and “London suburban routes”, providing 46% more peak time capacity – it’s unclear what lines are covered by “London suburban routes”
- Increasing services from London to Kingston via New Malden from four trains per hour to six trains per hour in the evening peak to match the morning service provision – it’s unclear if these trains will terminate at Kingston, or potentially continue around the loop, or continue on to Shepperton
- Teddington and New Malden are mentioned at getting new ticket gates installed, so for now Hampton is unlikely to see these becoming a feature
The new franchise will also introduce;
- Paying all their employees the Living Wage
- Setting up an annual £2.6m Customer & Communities Improvement Fund
- Introducing simple and easy ‘delay repay’ compensation on the network for the first time
- Making rail travel more accessible for young people by introducing discounts for 16 to 18 year-olds for the first time
- Introducing a new, innovative customer app, providing simpler and more convenient ways to purchase tickets, by introducing mobile ticketing and smartcards
- Offering flexible season tickets
- Making Advance Purchase fares available to/from more destinations