Future capacity, fares, customer services and passenger safety were all on the agenda on Thursday 14th November as the boss of South West Trains answered questions from local rail passengers.
Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP Steve Brine organised the ASK SWT meeting which gave around seventy people the chance to put their question to Managing Director, Tim Shoveller.
The event, which was held in St Paul's Church in Fulflood, raised a wide range of issues including future investment planned by the company and its impact on capacity for currently packed commuter services out of Winchester station.
The meeting heard how SWT plan to spend some £300m in the 2014-2019 period which it says will make a tangible difference to passengers. There was widespread discussion also around the level of customer service offered to travellers, including the way information is conveyed, on-train staff, ticket offices and the condition of many train toilets.
One key talking point was passenger safety around Winchester Station, especially for women travellers returning late at night. At present the last member of staff leaves Winchester at 10pm, leaving many passengers feeling vulnerable as they arrive home.
One customer, Joanne Lewis from Winchester, raised the issue of the poorly lit car park and the dark access road from it out onto the Andover Road. Winchester Station Manager, Danny Maile, who also attended the meeting has agreed to work with customers and Mr Brine to urgently address the issue.
Speaking after the event, Steve Brine said: "I arranged the event because I know from my interaction with SWT these past three years what an incredibly complex business running a railway is and I wanted to give local passengers a chance to hear about some of the investment plans in place which should see real improvements in the next few years.
"But I also wanted to give my constituents the chance to put their question directly to Tim and challenge him on some of the issues we commuters face on a daily basis.
"I think on the whole we have a good train service from this area, especially to London, but there are many issues around the way customers are handled, the availability of seats on some of the busiest early morning trains and clearly the subject of safety late at night needs addressing urgently.
"There was useful discussion around this point and some positive suggestions put forward; I am already making plans to take this forward with the Winchester team and would welcome further feedback from train users."
Tim Shoveller, Managing Director for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, said: "It was great to see so many of our customers in Winchester last night, and it was a really valuable opportunity to engage with so many passengers. I always welcome the chance to get first hand feedback from our customers and it was great to get some views on our services and provide people with an update on our future plans for development and improvement."
More information ...
The Hampshire Sustainable Transport Towns Project is developing with Hampshire County Council a Travel Plan for Winchester Railway Station with the aim of making it easier for people to travel to the station by sustainable modes of transport. As a local stakeholder Steve Brine can input into this process so if you have thoughts please email firstname.lastname@example.org before Weds 27 November 2013.