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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Commuters welcome rail proposals
Gatwick Express
The proposals would see Gatwick Express trains run every 10 minutes
Plans to ease overcrowding on one of England's busiest rail routes have been welcomed by commuter groups.

Under the new proposals Gatwick Express trains would run all the way to the south coast in an attempt to ease crowds on Brighton to London services.

The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) says the Gatwick to London trains are often only half-full while Brighton services are regularly 30% over capacity.

The Rail Passengers Council praised the "brave attempt" to solve the issue.

Common sense

A Commons select committee report in 2003 said passengers on the Brighton to Victoria line faced "daily trauma" on their journeys.

It found commuters on rush-hour trains were regularly forced to stand throughout the journey - lasting more than an hour.

The train companies which use the line are being consulted on the SRA's suggestions.

Under the proposals, the Gatwick Express service would run every 10 minutes, calling at East Croydon and continuing past Gatwick to towns on the coast.

On Friday an SRA spokesman said: "There are pros and cons in these decisions, there are always inevitably some things that benefit people and others that won't.

Commuters
Many commuters remain standing for their entire journey

"Overall we believe it is common sense to integrate these two services better."

Tim Nicholson, chairman of the Rail Passengers Council said: "In principle we welcome these proposals, but we have to study this in detail.

"We're not talking about everybody getting the best deal possible here, that was never an option. It's doing the best with what we've got."

Mr Nicholson said travelling to or from Gatwick on the currently rarely full trains was a "nice thing".

He said: "There's often a train there and you can get on slowly.

"But it is something of a luxury waiting for passengers to get on."

The changes proposed by the SRA - which is soon to be scrapped to give the Government more control of the railways - would also see all peak-time services on the line lengthened to 12 carriages.

The SRA said a final strategy would be set out after the end of the consultation period in December.




SEE ALSO:
Plan to tackle rail overcrowding
09 Sep 04  |  Southern Counties
Overcrowded trains 'unacceptable'
15 Oct 03  |  Southern Counties


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