Future for commuters to London is revealed
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COMMUTERS facing the daily battle to Waterloo can breathe easier with the news longer and more peak-time trains will be phased in over the next two years.
In an exclusive interview with The Observer, Tim Shoveller, South West Trains' managing director, outlined what the future holds for passengers, including the planned introduction of 'Oyster-style' swipe cards.
Mr Shoveller said: "We are investing in our railway and focusing on where the money needs to go first."
Work to extend the size of the platforms for the Windsor And Eton Riverside to Waterloo line is underway to ease pressure on the overcrowded route.
Mr Shoveller added: "The train is never full when it sets off from Windsor, but there will be more space if it gets busier towards London."
The longer trains, extended from eight to 10 carriages, are expected to be in place by May next year.
Twelve months later, two extra peak-time, Waterloo-bound trains will be leaving from Reading at 6.24am and 6.54am.
It means fewer passengers will be cramming onto the Windsor And Eton line trains at Staines, Twickenham and Clapham Junction. 'Oyster-style' swipe cards are planned to be introduced by the end of next year and South West Trains are waiting for Transport for London to finish installing facilities.
Mr Shoveller said: "It is ridiculous we still ticket customers with a piece of cardboard."
He believes it will be more efficient for passengers, but also enable train companies to be flexible with pricing and journey options.
He said passengers should also start to see the results of a new alliance between Network Rail and South West Trains, which has been in place since the end of April.
The unique pilot, which brings the company's 6,000 staff under one management structure, is in response to the Government's McNulty Report calling for measures to reduce the rail industry's inefficiencies.
Mr Shoveller added: "Passengers won't see immediate differences to their day-to-day commute, but we are looking at making a difference in the middle-to-long term."
South West Trains manages 600 miles of track and 208million passengers used the service in the last financial year, with the company turning over between £700m and £800m annually.