A powerful voice for your business

A powerful voice for your business A CONSULTATION RESPONSE FROM HAMPSHIRE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE COMMENTS TO NETWORK RAIL ON THE WESSEX ROUTE STUDY FOR I...
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A powerful voice for your business A CONSULTATION RESPONSE FROM HAMPSHIRE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE COMMENTS TO NETWORK RAIL ON THE WESSEX ROUTE STUDY FOR INVESTMENT IN GROWTH OF PASSENGER AND FREIGHT SERVICES FOR CONTROL PERIOD 6 (2019 – 2024) February 2015 Hampshire Chamber of Commerce is the Independent Voice of Local Business across the county and is one of the largest business representational groups in the UK. It brings together the combined influence, strength and expertise of the county’s three former major Chambers of Commerce. This substantial business network engages businesses of all sizes and in all sectors, whether throughout Hampshire, or in local groupings as and when required to focus on the areas of Solent LEP, Enterprise M3 LEP, South Hampshire, the New Forest, North or East Hampshire, or the city regions of Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester and the main towns, such as Aldershot, Andover, Basingstoke, Eastleigh, Fareham, Farnborough, Fleet, Gosport, Havant. Hampshire Chamber’s Planning & Transport Committee, chaired by Mark Miller of 2M Transport Solutions, has discussed the Study and endorsed these comments as its agreed consultation response generally in support of the rail investment proposed in the Network Rail Wessex Route Study for Control Period 6, 2019-24. The Wessex Route Study sets out a strategy for the development of the Wessex route to meet capacity and connectivity conditional outputs for rail passenger and freight services identified in the Market Studies, published in October 2013. The demand for greater accessibility and connectivity in this area is consistently rising, creating even greater environmental pollution and congestion pressures, especially affecting road transport. This Study provides a welcome programme of options to help railways address many of these transport issues and potentially relieve the pressure on this area’s parallel road system. Hampshire Chamber member businesses are keen to see rail services improved across the County, to ensure efficient travel choices are available and to further provide suitable rail investment for rail freight into and out of the region. We recognise the current network is operating at close to capacity and share the aspirations for additional passenger and freight services that are urgently needed in this area to support the continuing economic development of this region and the two Local Economic Partnership areas (Solent LEP and EM3 LEP). PASSENGER RAIL It is recognised that passenger numbers are increasing into London and it is necessary to cater for this growth. However, we believe this study should not solely concentrate on the Capital despite its 1

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A powerful voice for your business commercial draw. Due consideration should be given to rail connectivity, improved rail capacity and standardised yet higher service frequency levels throughout Hampshire. It is noted that much of the thrust of this study is to speed up services. This is laudable, but not necessarily required. In separate passenger surveys undertaken by our members, the main requirements for rail travel by users are reliability and frequency and we would like to see provision of a minimum of a 30-minute service to all of our stations. This would be essential to encourage more rail use, but in turn provide a financial return on investment throughout the rail industry. Improved journey speeds are highly desirable but not at the expense of intermediate stations not gaining additional services through more trains and/or improved signalling. The current Wessex Route Study consultation goes some way to providing for increased passenger and freight on rail across the region, but is considered to be too centred on passenger services from the Wessex Region to/from London and does not focus enough on improvements within Hampshire, especially when considering connectivity between major employment centres such as Southampton, Basingstoke, Farnborough, Portsmouth, Fareham, Winchester and so on. East west connectivity is just as important as a north south axis. By focussing more on intra Hampshire travel, including smaller stations, there is ample opportunity to transfer to rail many of the documented 15 – 30 miles trips currently undertaken by car. Concurrently, this would reduce environmental and pollution impacts and aid economic growth in the area. It is clear that many of the existing service patterns have failed to capture much of this market because of historically poor frequencies and connections. We are concerned that the balance between fast services and more frequent connecting services needs to be reconsidered. RAIL FREIGHT Over and above passenger service demands, since the rail freight upgrade between Southampton and the West Midlands and beyond, to allow for higher cube deep-sea containers on traditional wagons, the modal share of traffic on rail from Southampton is upwards of 30%, with solid plans to increase this percentage. Furthermore, with Southampton Docks being a major importer and exporter of vehicles, it is essential that a reliable rail freight service is available and capacity is provided to cater for existing and increased rail freight to and from the region. PORT OF SOUTHAMPTON The growth of the Port of Southampton currently exceeds the basis used for the demand studies and the capacity currently offered by the Rail Freight Operators is not enough to satisfy the current market growth. This means that the long term demand forecast possibly is too low and should be considered as an absolute minimum to be met. 2

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A powerful voice for your business The Port of Southampton to the West Midlands route is a vital corridor for intermodal traffic in the Strategic Freight Network, and the Wessex Route is key to providing the necessary capacity for growth. BASINGSTOKE TO READING Network Rail should, at the earliest opportunity, bring forward interventions to ensure that the route from Basingstoke to Reading becomes a 24/7 resilient and reliable railway, as there is no gauge-cleared diversionary route. Any non-availability of this section of route would have a serious detrimental impact on the Port of Southampton. SOUTHAMPTON AND WEST MIDLANDS CORRIDOR The corridor between Southampton and the West Midlands crosses between Wessex and Western routes and it is important that Network Rail delivers consistent capacity and paths across the boundaries, and that there is a co-ordinated corridor approach to enable freight operators to take advantage of enhanced capacity provision at the earliest opportunity. Some of the CP4 enhancements have so far failed to deliver this. DIVERSION OF CONTAINER TRAFFIC FROM SOUTHAMPTON TUNNEL Better use could be made of spare rail capacity on the existing rail network by diverting Container traffic from Southampton (avoiding the bottleneck at Southampton tunnel) west via Romsey, Laverstock Loop (east of Salisbury), Andover to Basingstoke, freeing up the main line for more passenger services allowing those additional trains to call at intermediate stations between Basingstoke-Southampton and Basingstoke-Fareham/Havant. The further diversionary route via Salisbury-Westbury-Melksham-Swindon should also be upgraded to allow for sustained intermodal traffic and other railfreight via this corridor. SOUTHAMPTON AIRPORT Operation of the Brighton to Southampton service via Eastleigh and Southampton Airport Parkway, was committed to but not delivered in the former Southern franchise and has been identified by Network Rail as having a positive business case in the previous RUS. This is also an aspiration of Southampton Airport which already has a modal share of 20% of all users travelling by rail. This would provide connectivity benefits for Southampton Airport to the East, a new, direct Hedge End to Southampton link, supporting rail access from this area of substantial future housing development towards the largest local employment hub. This consideration could also be applied to the proposed new Brighton to Bristol service (or the existing Portsmouth to Cardiff service). To cater for the direct south coast service to Southampton Airport, we should like to see the service and rail line between Fareham-Botley doubled throughout, including a wider or new tunnel under the M27 north of Fareham. Additional platform capacity at Eastleigh should be provided along with 3

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A powerful voice for your business an additional loop from Eastleigh-Southampton Airport Parkway, to provide a 4-track railway to increase capacity and connectivity in this location. In addition, we believe there is capacity to reintroduce operations on some of the unused track bed at Northam northwards towards Southampton Airport Parkway. PORTSMOUTH-SOUTHAMPTON ROUTE – mini-metro service Furthermore, freeing up rail capacity on the Portsmouth-Southampton route, will allow for a 30 minute all-stations service, providing a “mini-metro” service between these Cities and their environs, as was originally planned during the 1980s Network South East era. This in turn provides a suitable alternative to driving along the M27 corridor, without the need to upgrade the signalling system on this rail corridor until a later date. An alternative could be to increase services between Fareham and Southampton via Netley only, by utilising the turn-back bay platform at Fareham, without the need for new infrastructure on this rail corridor. BASINGSTOKE TO HEATHROW DIRECT Running direct rail services from Basingstoke to Heathrow should be investigated (utilising the western approach to Heathrow on the Great Western Main Line via Reading), providing direct rail services from the south coast with a single change at Basingstoke. The planned grade separation junction at Basingstoke will aid this too. Improvements to the North Downs Line will add much needed service capacity to and from Gatwick Airport, including in-fill electrification, modernised rolling stock, frequency improvements and train lengthening. The delivery of the Western Access to Heathrow scheme will provide accessibility improvements for many of north Hampshire’s towns, via the Basingstoke line and the North Downs Line, providing improved connectivity by rail from Basingstoke, Winchester and southern Hampshire, the Blackwater Valley, Guildford and even Gatwick Airport. EASTLEGH – ROMSEY via CHANDLERS FORD mini-metro service In order to cater for existing and planned increased rail freight, we should like to see additional track capacity between Eastleigh-Romsey via Chandlers Ford to further allow for a 30-minute passenger service on this corridor. To assist with this, we feel that the infrastructure improvements undertaken in the West Country on the Falmouth Branch should be investigated. These improvements have provided a 30 minute passenger service, leading to a 100% increase in passenger numbers. The additional track capacity at Penryn station could be replicated at Chandlers Ford, without the need to re-open the disused platform. This would allow for increased rail capacity for rail freight and passenger services. A cheaper option, could be the provision of a turn-back signal at Chandlers Ford. This would allow a 30 min service to Eastleigh/Southampton and enable trains to turn back towards Eastleigh during disruptions and operational pressures. 4

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A powerful voice for your business OTHER CAPACITY OPTIONS IN THE STUDY In terms of other capacity options we recognise and support the requirement for extra track capacity at Waterloo, Clapham and within Greater London. We support rail capacity improvements to Waterloo via Winchester, Basingstoke and Woking and support the proposals for the planned grade separation flyovers at Woking and Basingstoke as well to free up and speed up service paths. The proposal to install better signalling in and around Northam to allow for 775m long freight trains is supported as is a general increase in gauge clearance in the area to W12 standards. We support the idea of a Liphook loop to help fast trains overtake slower trains on the Portsmouth “direct” line and welcome the possible reinstatement of Platform 2 at Portsmouth and the general infrastructure improvements outlined on the Portsmouth to London line. WATERSIDE LINE When Chandlers Ford station was re-opened in 2003, the rail service was intended to run to Marchwood & Hythe on the Waterside Line. Although recent studies by Hampshire County Council have rejected the re-opening (for a low sum of circa £16m when compared with other transport schemes), it is essential a fully costed project be investigated, so as to provide an economic and affordable passenger service that will reduce road congestion on the western Solent, creating a proper alternative to the motor car and improved access to the eastern edge of the New Forest National Park. Due consideration would still need to be given to mixing traffic with potential freight increases on this line, but given the proposals for the Laverstock Loop and Southampton Central Station platform increases this should be achievable. We are also pleased to see that the Route Study includes the provision for lengthening the cross country services from 5 to 6 car trains, however believe that more needs to be done to increase capacity and journey opportunities on this corridor. In addition, we would support the lengthening of most main line trains to 12 carriages wherever practical. READING TO BASINGSTOKE SPUR We fully support the inclusion of the Reading to Basingstoke spur within the plans for electrification of the Great Western Main Line. We are also supportive of the “Electric Spine” proposals, but are keen to see benefits maximised for passenger as well as freight traffic, including improved acceleration, additional services, less pollution, additional diversionary routes and long term rolling stock rationalisation. We should like to see a 20-minute passenger service linking Southampton with Reading, the Midlands and the north, with 2 services per hour running as now between Reading-Birmingham New Street (1 per hour via Solihull) with the 3rd train per hour using the soon to be opened East-West link 5

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A powerful voice for your business and “Electric Spine” between Oxford and the West Coast mainline. This additional service will also increase passenger capacity between Southampton and Basingstoke. We would propose that to maximise the value of connectivity to HS2 and Heathrow regarding creation of new Paddington- Old Oak Common- Heathrow- Reading-Basingstoke services and support extension of these services down to the Solent area calling at Winchester, Eastleigh, Southampton Airport Parkway and Southampton Central. In particular we support the development of Crossrail 2 as a means of freeing up central London line and terminal capacity. Connections onto Crossrail 2 from north Hampshire would considerably improve the accessibility to parts of north London and areas north of London. SOUTHAMPTON CENTRAL STATION We agree with the proposals to increase platforms at Southampton Central station. The remodelling of Southampton Central station is understood and supported to relieve the bottleneck currently caused by the tunnel. Such improvements would also support the provision of additional services including a reopened Waterside operation. However, to cater for proposed increases in service provision, we would urge a more expansive consideration of the tunnel problem with an investigation into options to 4-track the railway through the tunnel to Northam junction. This would also relieve much of the current line speed restrictions and disruptions frequently seen between Southampton Central and St Denys. If there is also an opportunity to rebuild the Golden Grove triangle leading down in the old Terminus Station line and a new station on that spur, this would provide the opportunity to turn trains more easily, allow diversionary terminating services as required and enable a further cross Southampton service to cater for the growing office and leisure developments at Ocean Village. PROVISIONS OMITTED FROM THE STUDY No mention has been made of additional station provision in the study. The Chamber of Commerce has for many years supported the provision of new or reopened stations to help improve access to rail network. These include Chineham, Knowle, Northam, Nursling, Farlington, Marchwood and Hythe. All sites are supported by increased housing and industrial developments which would prosper from additional sustainable transport options. Proposals to increase track capacity north of Winchester and Waller’s Ash (replacing track capacity removed in the 1980s) is supported to allow over-taking of trains. The cost of new station provision would not be exorbitant but would go a long way to alleviating access concerns to the rail network, serve major housing and industry developments in the area and reduce pressure on key hub stations and local road networks.

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A powerful voice for your business LAND USE POLICIES AND RAIL PROPOSALS No longer should the railway be planned in isolation from surrounding land use policies. There is little if any reference to the study’s objectives in terms of links to housing and industrial developments over the same time period. We urge some joined up thinking with local business and planning organisations to assess the demand increases foreseen in these areas over the next 30 years from all developmental perspectives. For example, a number of the rail proposals fit with the aspirations of leading businesses and tie in with the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce Transport Strategy Review of October 2012. This reported on findings highlighting plans and aspirations for a number of Transport schemes, including rail, in the region. We should like to see closer ties between the Rail Industry, Chambers of Commerce and the Local Enterprise Partnerships, as is common elsewhere in England. By working in partnership, additional funding can be identified and drawn down for these important upgrades and investment so urgently needed in this region. Solent Transport’s “Transport Delivery Plan” endorsed by the Chamber has a section on rail. To meet the overall passenger demand forecast we support the need for extra rolling stock capacity to relieve existing overcrowding and high demand on some routes, such that all passengers either receive a seat or only have to stand for a short distance. However, we are less receptive to the provision of 3+2 seating stock owing to its lack of comfort and dislike by users. The prospect of double deck trains is appreciated, although at this time we have some concerns over dwell times at stations, infrastructure upgrade requirements and the lack of suitable rolling stock provision for this country. There is also concern over proposals to use double deck trains only at peak times, as this raises the query of what would they do off peak? This does not seem a sensible use of resources. We accept that the current rail network in Hampshire is close to capacity and welcome Network Rail’s proposals to address this. However, we would like consideration of increases in rail provision as coming from multi modal switching and town planning perspectives, rather than a supply led decision process made by the railway industry alone. For example, rail mirrors major congested motorways in the region (M3, M27 and A3) and can act as a better means of addressing congestion, environmental and pollution issues on these routes, for the benefit of all communities, if considered as a key alternative within overall planning frameworks. Development of passenger and freight services in this county is vital to economic growth and environmental targets and we hope this response highlights our aspirations and support.

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A powerful voice for your business We welcome continued liaison with Network Rail to ensure that our views are adequately reflected in your plans. Should you have any queries on this submission, please contact me, so I can put you in contact with Mark Miller, Chair of Hampshire Chamber’s Planning & Transport Committee.

Stewart Dunn Chief Executive Hampshire Chamber of Commerce Email: [email protected]

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