Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke, has met with the rail company First Group, which is bidding to win the franchise for the railway service currently operated by South West Trains.

Maria took the opportunity to call for greater capacity on the route, where peak time routes are already operating at 20% over capacity. Maria is calling for more seats to be made available, with longer trains, and smarter use of space by removal of First Class and buffet bars.

Maria said: “I had already met South West Trains, and wanted to make sure that the other bidder for the franchise, First Group, had a good understanding of what Basingstoke rail users want from the new franchise.”

“I am calling for a “Commuters Charter”, which would mean the new franchise offering much more capacity, and greater value for money. We need to see the fares structure overhauled, to meet the needs of the growing proportion of commuters who work on an agile basis, and may travel fewer than five days a week. We also need to see the railway deliver a higher level of service in order to make commuting better value for money.”

First Group and South West Trains have both been shortlisted for the franchise bid, and will be submitting their bids later in the year. The award of the new franchise is expected to be announced in February 2017.