The Issue: 65% of trains on the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Portsmouth - Waterloo line are now blue 450 class high density suburban stock which have replaced the popular white 444s which were designed for mainline use. With 5 seats across and no arm rests in Standard, limited leg room with no space to work, and a narrow aisle which precludes a trolley service, passengers are finding the 450s unacceptably cramped and uncomfortable for this long distance journey. This is a Health and Safety issue and many passengers are complaining of bad backs and other problems related to the seating. The manufacturer's specification clearly shows these trains were not designed for long distances and until recently the route maps displayed above the exit doors clearly showed that 450s were not meant to deploy south of Guildford. Waterloo to Portsmouth is an Inter-City or Principal Route of 110 minutes duration.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The Excuses: SWT claim their new franchise commitment requires them to provide 21% more main line seats to cater for increasing demand, partly brought about by new housing developments and hence more commuters in the SWT area. A 12-car 450 has 140 more seats than a 10-car 444 train.
The Facts: SWT figures show that, of the 135 daily services, only 5 at peak times are even remotely busy, and then only between Woking and Waterloo. The latest DfT document "Southern Regional Planning Assessment for the railway - Jan 07" makes no mention of overcrowding on this line. Despite SWT's insistence, overcrowding simply is not an issue. We believe the introduction of these trains may be a cost cutting exercise, although SWT hotly deny this. The popular Wessex Electrics on the London to Weymouth route have been withdrawn and no provision has been made to replace them with suitable mainline trains. White Class 444s have largely been diverted from Portsmouth to the Weymouth route. This radical change was made with minimal notice to passengers.
The Solution: The number of white 444 class trains should be increased and returned to Portsmouth services as soon as possible. The blue 450 class trains should be transferred to London suburban lines where they are can usefully ameliorate overcrowding, particularly on the Reading-Waterloo line where the unreliable and unpopular 458 class trains urgently need replacement.
SIGN UP NOW! DON'T DELAY! PASS ON THE PETITION TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND TRAVELLING COLLEAGUES.
If you want more information about the No 450 Campaign, visit www.no450.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.