Whitton station under the microscope as Transport Minister stops by

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Ready for the rugby? Stephen Hammond and Tania Mathias Ready for the rugby? Stephen Hammond and Tania Mathias

The poor state of Whitton station was discussed at a special public meeting attended by Transport Minister Stephen Hammond last weekend.

The MP for Wimbledon was joined at the meeting by almost 100 residents as well as Councillor Gareth Elliott and Twickenham parliamentary candidate Councillor Tania Mathias.

One member of the audience commented that to his knowledge, no remedial work had been carried out since the early 1960s.

Mr Hammond said: “It is important to highlight that Richmond Council is aware of the problems at the station and wishes to contribute towards the refurbishment.

“The financial involvement of Network Rail should mean that there is a real prospect of the station being updated.

“There are plans to move to 10-carriage trains which will help reduce overcrowding and make use of the Eurostar platforms at Waterloo to increase service frequency.”

Whitton station was mentioned to the Mayor of London Boris Johnson by Coun Mathias on his recent visit to the town.

It is fourth on a list of 184 stations in need of improvement works.

Coun Mathias said: “After so many years of inaction I would like to see the station upgraded in time for the Rugby World Cup.”

Coun Elliott added: “The station is well overdue for refurbishment and it is especially regrettable that no work has been done to ensure that there is safe access to trains for all those who need to travel.

“Whitton is an important town in the borough and should be served by a modern railway station.”

A further financial contribution might come from the Rugby Football Union when it meets to discuss community projects at the end of the month.

A spokesman for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance said: “We understand the need for improvements to Whitton station and are working with partners to make them.

“However all enhancements are subject to receiving relevant funding.

“We have therefore applied for funding from the Department for Transport under their Access for All Scheme and are working with partners to identify other opportunities for financial support.

“We have asked the council for the opportunity to discuss the outcomes of the summit at a convenient date.”

Twickenham MP Vince Cable also met Tim Shoveller to press for action on issues such as concerns about congestion and step-free access on the Twickenham line.

He said: “There is the prospect of steady improvements in reducing congestion on the train service and - with Waterloo International reopening - some more services as well as station development at Twickenham and Whitton, especially with the Rugby World Cup coming.

“This is progress but more needs to be done.

“The Lib Dem team will keep campaigning for step-free access at St Margarets station and for service improvements for Hampton.”

In July, a programme will be launched to introduce 150 new carriages over the next three years, providing Reading and Windsor trains to have 10 carriages.

The Hounslow loop will have 10-car trains next year and the Shepperton line by 2017.

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