Twickenham MP Munira Wilson has slammed a proposal by South Western Railway to reduce rail services from key stations across the constituency.
The Liberal Democrat MP criticised the plan for a 50% reduction in direct trains from Whitton to Richmond and Waterloo and for no services to run from Whitton between 7.50am and 8.20am.
South Western Railway said on Tuesday that it is implementing changes to the December 2022 timetable because of low train usage during the Covid-19 pandemic – as more people are working from home.
Wilson said: “It is outrageous that SWR have launched a consultation on significant timetable changes over the summer when many people are away.
“There has been very little publicity, and with people working from home, the majority of commuters will be unaware of the proposals.
“To make matters worse the documentation produced by SWR is difficult to interpret.
“I am calling upon SWR to extend the consultation period and communicate the proposed changes more clearly.
“They should publish a clear station by station guide to highlight the actual impact these proposals would have on services, compared to their pre-pandemic level.”
There is a consultation period until 19 September where people can offer their views on the proposal on the South Western Railway website.
The plan has already been condemned by Richmond Council.
Some Twitter users have also criticised the proposal.
Wilson will be attending a meeting with SWR at the beginning of September where she said she will challenge them on the proposal and seek further clarification on what it means for her constituency.
However, a South Western Railway spokesperson said: “We are currently running an eight-week stakeholder consultation on our proposals for the December 2022 timetable, which we are urging all MPs, councillors and passenger groups across our network to respond to.
“The pandemic has brought about a sharp reduction in passenger numbers and changes to travel patterns and, based on what our customers are telling us, future demand is forecast to reach no higher than 76% of pre-Covid levels.
“This gives us a unique opportunity to review our timetable, address historic performance issues and deliver more robust and resilient train services.
“While our proposals do include a reduction in frequencies on some routes, the rollout of our new fleet of Arterio trains will help us to still provide 93 % of pre-Covid capacity – greatly outstripping forecast demand.
“By making this change, we aim to ease congestion across our network, consolidate the performance improvements we have seen over the past 18 months and deliver a more efficient service that provides excellent value to the taxpayer.
“We’re confident that, through these proposed changes, we’ll be able to build back a better railway which provides efficiency, value for money and the performance improvements that our customers expect and deserve.”
Find out more about the proposed timetable changes by clicking here.
Featured image credit: Munira Wilson MP.