The Rail Minister has told James Brokenshire that plans to increase rolling stock to ease overcrowding on Southeastern are under active consideration with an initial decision expected by no later than the Spring. In a letter to James, Ms Perry said that the Department for Transport was working with Southeastern to finalise plans which could see additional train units coming into service before the end of this year.
James Brokenshire has been pressing both the train company and the Department to address the significant overcrowding issues faced by commuters on some peak services – particularly in and out of Cannon Street. The MP has highlighted the potential to deploy train units currently being used on Thameslink Services to Southeastern when they become available later this year.
In her letter the Rail Minister provided details of the ongoing work with Southeastern and the timeframes for decisions. Ms Perry said:
“I can confirm that we have been working closely with Southeastern for a number of months, investigating what can be done to reduce crowding on the Southeastern network during the current franchise term. We received a detailed report from Southeastern in June  regarding late 2016 and early 2018 capacity relief options and we continue to develop these options in collaboration.
“We are planning to take a phased approach to the investment decisions, splitting the project into capacity relief from late 2016 and capacity relief from early 2018. This approach should allow us to make an investment decision on the 2016 capacity relief in the spring. For the 2018 capacity relief, we expect to make an investment decision in the summer. Both separate investments will be subject to establishing a viable business case and gaining the necessary approvals.
“It is too early to say which services are intended to be strengthened, but the earlier capacity intervention will likely target the Metro services.”
Commenting James said:
“One of the key frustrations of passengers is the level of overcrowding on journeys to and from London. It is essential that additional train carriages are introduced to ease the pressures on rush hour services.
“The Rail Minister’s comments are a positive step forward and I’m pleased that plans are being finalised to address this problem with metro services potentially seeing the benefits first. We now need a positive decision over the coming weeks and see additional train carriages phased in as soon as possible.”