The Winchester & Chandler's Ford constituency is served by strong rail links to Southampton and into London Waterloo but the popularity of rail travel on one of the busiest commuter routes in Europe has placed huge strain on the service.
4.5m people use Winchester Station every year, many of them commuting to Basingstoke and London for work.
LATEST UPDATES (1) : New 'open access' bid promises competition and cheaper fares
LATEST UPDATES (2) : Scroll down page for details of the South Western Rail Franchise consultation
LATEST UPDATES (3) : Work starts in September 2016 to provide additional parking spaces at Winchester station; click here for more information
LATEST UPDATES (4) : Network Rail improvements set for August ; click here for more information
Local MP Steve Brine made improving rail services one of his clear priorities after being elected in May 2010 and has delivered many improvements in recent years.
In November 2013 Steve organised and chaired one of his popular ASK the ... sessions specifically focused on local rail services which gave constituents the chance to question senior management from South West Trains/Network Rail. ASK SWT was well attended and identified capacity, car (and bike) parking at Winchester Station, access to wi-fi and late night safety in Winchester as key issues needing attention.
The MP took that meeting as a guide to future campaigning on the subject and, working with Government as well as South West Trains, has seen many improvements made.
Steve says; "All of these improvements were identified at the ASKSWT meeting and it's great we've been able to deliver on them for local rail users but they are, in many ways, the icing on the cake. What we need to do now is turn our attention to the cake itself and that means facing head-on the issue of long-term capacity on the line through Winchester into London. That is ultimately about building a bigger railway."
Building a bigger railway
Steve Brine spoke in a key House of Commons debate in December 2014 led by Basingstoke MP Maria Miller. He praised recent improvements but challenged Ministers to invest in the routes into and through Clapham Junction and Waterloo, routes he said had been largely left alone since Victorian times.
In January 2015 he addressed local council leaders and business organisations from across the region at a special rail summit hosted by Hampshire Council Council. Steve adds; "When we look back 20 years from now, I hope we will see this coming together of so many key players in the local economy as a pivotal moment in building that bigger railway."
At the meeting Steve spoke alongside South West Train Chief Executive, Tim Shoveller, about the Wessex Route Study which is constructing a long-term vision for local rail services. We are expected to see a 40% growth in passenger numbers over the next 30 years.
Following the General Election of May 2015, Steve resumed his work alongside newly elected colleagues (as well as returning MPs such as Maria Miller in Basingstoke). Local MPs are working together with Ministers at DfT and Treasury to make the case for the South's much needed infrastructure investment.
He spoke in a Westminster Hall debate, led this time by new Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond, in October 2015 to re-state the case for building a bigger southern railway.
The long awaited footbridge at Winchester was crucial for elderly and disabled passengers and was something Steve Brine campaigned successfuly for. He says; "When I became the MP, wheelchair users would regularly be known to get a taxi from one side of Winchester Station to the other. This was a disgrace."
The MP has also spoken consistently about the need to work with local councillors and residents - as well as SWT - to address issues around station parking and connectivity with the mainline service so they thrive as a key part of the local transport infrastructure.
This includes, another issue raised at the pivotal ASK SWT meeting in 2013, pedestrian and cyclist access from Winchester Station out onto Andover Road. Steve is working with Osborne (who now own the former Hunts Foodstuffs land), Network Rail and Hampshire County Council to force a solution. He featured the story in the Autumn 2015 edition of his Winchester Post newspaper (opens as a PDF).
Steve Brine's constituency is served by four railway stations; in addition to Winchester there is Shawford, Micheldever and Chandler's Ford.
A birthday celebration with a difference
In October 2013, Steve and his family attended the 10th birthday celebrations of Chandler's Ford Station which was brought back to life by Hampshire County Council and run in conjucntion with SWT, Three Rivers Rail and Sustrans.
Steve Brine has also campaigned consistently for the introduction of 'smart ticketing' on our network which can pave the way for the long-awaited and much-needed part-time season ticket. Steve's campaign came good when both were included in the 2015 Conservative manifesto.
Western Rail Link to London Heathrow
The proposed link, which is scheduled to be completed by 2021, will play a major part in ensuring the continued economic prosperity of Hampshire through providing Hampshire residents and businesses with a direct rail link to Heathrow Airport via Reading Station. Currently access to Heathrow Airport by rail from Hampshire is either by travelling into London and out again, or via a coach from Woking Station. Read more here
South Western Franchise consultation
The Government announced, in July 2015, that was was ending the discussions with Stagecoach subsidiary, South West Trains regarding the direct award of a new rail franchise. The current franchise is due to end in February 2017 and SWT had made proposals to the DfT concerning the proposed franchise extension which would have ended no earlier than April 2019.
However, the DfT has told Stagecoach that it plans to issue a new franchise tender for a new long-term franchise for award in April 2017 to start in August 2017.
The consultation for the new South Western Franchise ran until 9th February 2016 and Steve Brine urged constituents to say what they would like from the new franchise that will serve us. Read more or download the full consultation document here as a PDF.
Consultation event with DfT : at Steve's request there was a dedicated consultation event for Winchester on Wednesday 20th January 2016 on the Winchester Train Station concourse from.
Hampshire MPs working together : Local MPs responded to the consultation via the All-Party Group for Hampshire in Parliament. You can download their submission here as a PDF file.
Invitation to Tender (ITT) : on 4th July 2016, the DfT published the invitation to tender which formally invites interested companies to bid for the new franchise. Steve welcomed this as it includes some important 'must have' items including increased capacity and performance targets plus new smart ticketing options to include provision for part-time season tickets.
Pictured (from top); Steve making our case in the House of Commons, with Osborne discussing station access in Winchester, introducing the ASKSWT meeting in 2013 and with his bike as a regular commuter himself from Winchester to London.
More information ...
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