Alton to London railway line users' group needs new leadership

Tuesday 19th April 2022 4:00 pm
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A train arrives at London Waterloo (PHOTO: ROMAN FOX/UNSPLASH) ()

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IF YOU are fed up with problems on the railway line from Alton to London Waterloo, now is your chance to do something about it.

All three positions on the committee of the Alton Line Users’ Association are up for grabs as the group seeks younger people to campaign on behalf of passengers using Alton, Bentley, Farnham, Aldershot and Ash Vale stations.

Formed in 1974 by honorary president Chris Campbell to keep the Farnham to Alton line open, it still has the ear of Network Rail and South Western Railway.

But this role depends on its strength.

The association said: “To maintain our leverage it is vital we have force of numbers to sustain our claim as a representative collective spokesperson.”

It continues to “lobby vigorously” for a return to the double-track line last seen in the 1980s, but immediate issues to deal with are about ensuring the Alton line – a branch off the Wessex main line – does not become the poor relation in terms of investment in infrastructure, track and rolling stock.

It also fights to maintain and increase the extent and frequency of the timetable, and will challenge any move to close ticket offices on the line.

But the association’s key priority is improving what it calls the “dismal” journey time between Alton and London.

The association said: “You might like to know that when the line was first electrified in 1937 the journey time from Alton to London Waterloo was 80 minutes, and that included splitting or conjoining the train at Woking – one portion for Alton, the other for 
Portsmouth.

“Today the Alton and Portsmouth lines enjoy a through service, the off-peak journey time to or from London has improved by just three minutes for those trains that include Bentley as a station stop.”

The association’s future depends on filling the chairman, secretary and treasurer committee roles when it holds its annual general meeting at the Alton House Hotel on May 24. Doors open at 6.30pm and the meeting starts at 7pm. Those interested in the roles should email [email protected] and attend the meeting.

If all of the positions are filled a discussion will take place on how the association will continue. But if three people cannot be found to do the jobs, the discussion will be about how to wind up the association after 48 years.

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