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  • Sharma holds constructive meeting with First Great Western and Rail Minister on overcrowding
    on local stopping routes and convert them all to Standard Class Given the length of journeys between Reading and London on local stopping services Alok noted that it is not acceptable to have passengers standing when there are seats free in First Class During the meeting Mark Hopwood confirmed that the train operating company has already increased standard seats on local Reading services by 21 and is two thirds of the way through converting a First Class carriage into Standard Class on every High Speed Train serving Reading meaning 2 000 of the extra 3 000 seats promised are already online Significant additional capacity is planned for the months and years ahead to help alleviate overcrowding in Reading through the extension of Crossrail the ongoing conversion of First Class carriages to Standard Class and a new fleet of intercity trains due to be introduced during 2018 which will increase capacity by an additional 20 per cent Alok Sharma said I would like to thank Claire Perry and Mark Hopwood for a constructive meeting It was good to hear about the progress being made on converting First Class carriages into Standard Class but I have asked First Great Western and the Department for Transport to go further and see what more can be done to speed up the conversion to Standard Class seats and on local stopping services to consider removing First Class carriages entirely Alok continued I will be following up on both these points related to increasing Standard Class seats with the Minister and First Great Western and will continue to press for further declassification of First Class when there is a clear need Rail Minister Claire Perry said It is good news that thanks to Government and FGW investments passengers from Reading are already seeing more seats on

    Original URL path: http://www.aloksharma.co.uk/print/796 (2016-02-14)
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  • MP launches petition for overcrowded trains to be declassified
    overcrowded trains between Reading and London Paddington and to publish data on how many trains are declassified each day Alok has previously held a Parliamentary debate on rail ticketing and overcrowding and has lobbied ministers on this issue on behalf of constituents and campaigned for a reduction in the number of First Class carriages He was therefore delighted when the Department for Transport announced in March 2014 that it was providing funding to increase the number of standard class seats on all First Great Western trains by summer 2015 Alok Sharma said There is nothing more frustrating for my commuting constituents than standing in standard class packed in like sardines when there are dozens of empty seats in First Class carriages I welcome the plans to increase the number of Standard Class seats next year but FGW needs to take action sooner and they can do that by declassifying overcrowded trains now Alok continued I know that commuters also find it baffling as I do that First Great Western appear unable to provide data on the number of times they declassify trains As a company providing a public service we have a right to know how it is meeting the

    Original URL path: http://www.aloksharma.co.uk/print/760 (2016-02-14)
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  • New investment with renewed First Great Western franchise welcomed
    which is something I have called for in Parliament and also taken up directly with FGW It is also good news that FGW is working with the DfT to provide further improvements including a fleet of electric trains for the Thames Valley Alok concluded This franchise will also allow a detailed discussion to continue on the introduction of smart ticketing which I have also called for and will ultimately benefit

    Original URL path: http://www.aloksharma.co.uk/print/580 (2016-02-14)
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  • Sharma welcomes Government commitment to smart ticketing
    expectant mothers and the disabled free upgrades to First Class on their season tickets if there are no seats available in Standard Class Following the launch of the ITT Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said Passengers using the Great Western Line will benefit from major infrastructure improvements and new rolling stock over the next few years as a result of the Government s ambitious programme of rail improvements including extensive electrification Villiers continued For the first time on the Great Western franchise we will be introducing requirements on passenger satisfaction for the train operator to meet which will mean they have to focus strongly on the issues that matter the most to passengers Extending smart card ticketing across the franchise will provide many more passengers across the West and South West with the kind of convenience Oyster has brought to Londoners Alok Sharma said I am delighted that the Government has committed to bringing smart ticketing to Reading which will be welcomed by all commuters Smart ticketing brings with it the possibility for a wide range of imaginative ticketing options which could for example benefit people who work part time in London and currently can only choose between daily and weekly tickets which does not represent value for money Alok continued I hope whichever train operator wins the franchise it will continue First Great Western s current policy of offering season ticket holders the ability to reserve a seat on regularly timetabled trains This is an excellent policy which should be highlighted more prominently to commuters Commuters with a photo card season ticket can reserve a seat on regularly timetabled trains by emailing forward firstgroup com with their photo card number and their journey details Alok concluded I also want to see First Class upgrades for expectant mothers and those that

    Original URL path: http://www.aloksharma.co.uk/print/368 (2016-02-14)
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  • Alok Sharma leads Parliamentary debate on rail ticketing and overcrowding | Alok Sharma MP - Member of Parliament for Reading West
    Milton Keynes South Con I congratulate my hon Friend on securing this debate He has made some excellent points that I heartily endorse Does he agree that as well as assisting commuters from Reading or Milton Keynes travelling into London smart ticketing would assist inward investment to our respective constituencies for passengers who want to travel there on business albeit not necessarily on a weekly basis Alok Sharma My hon Friend is absolutely right Smart ticketing will make a huge difference to his constituents and mine He is known as a great champion of the commuters in his constituency In the autumn statement the Chancellor announced a 45 million investment to extend smart ticketing across the south east As my hon Friend has just pointed out smart ticketing could make a massive difference to passengers and enable train operators to offer multi ticketing options For example the three days a week commuter could benefit from a pay as you go system but paying the reduced season ticket price or buy 12 journeys for the cost of 10 There are many permutations that would bring more value for money for passengers If franchise agreements are to last for 15 years they need to be flexible enough to cope with changes to technology and I hope that that will be factored in Train operators should also be encouraged to innovate in the way that train classes are categorised Perhaps some lessons could be learned from the airline industry in that regard In that industry many operators now offer a range of options including premium economy and I do not see why that could not be replicated across the railways As an example Chiltern Railways is experimenting with the option of a new premium economy business zone which allows passengers to upgrade by paying a supplement of 20 The upgrade includes a guaranteed seat and access to wi fi without the extra unnecessary and costly frills of first class The new service can be purchased without having to buy a separate ticket or pay a full first class fare That represents the sort of imaginative approach that I would like to see considered in new franchise agreements I am happy to stand corrected but I understand that it is not currently possible for the same operator to offer differential fares on the same line Let us take the Reading to Paddington line as an example A fast service takes 30 to 35 minutes and a local stopping train takes about an hour yet there is no difference in ticket pricing between the two services One could imagine however that a significant fare discount for those using only the locally stopping service would be an attractive option for some commuters In any such scenario it would be important to ensure that those using the fast services did not suddenly see a huge uplift in their fares Additionally for the services to be viable sufficient rolling stock would need to be available to cover both route options adequately Longer franchises and the consequent greater requirement for operators to invest in new rolling stock could eventually present an opportunity for them to consider differential pricing Finally I want to cover the reduction of overall industry costs that would in turn lead to reduced pressure on ticket price rises The McNulty review concluded that UK rail was the most expensive in Europe compared with some benchmark countries The review also found scope for industry costs to be reduced by 30 by 2018 19 reflecting the fact that passengers and taxpayers in the UK currently pay an average of about 30 more in fares and subsidy than those in comparable European countries McNulty noted that the key barriers to efficiency in the sector included the fragmentation of the industry and the current franchising and fare structures I have already commented on franchising and fare structures and I agree that industry fragmentation can be a barrier The planned operational alliance between South West Trains and Network Rail on trains operating out of Waterloo is one way of getting industry players to work more closely together for the ultimate benefit of passengers and if it works it could be a model for others to follow I acknowledge the good work that the Government have already done to tackle overcrowding and rising rail fares but there are imaginative solutions that train operators could adopt to provide much more value for money for rail commuters I am looking forward greatly to the publication of the Government s rail Command Paper and fares review and of course to the Minister s response this evening 10 48 pm The Minister of State Department for Transport Mrs Theresa Villiers I congratulate my hon Friend the Member for Reading West Alok Sharma on securing the debate and on his interesting and well thought through contribution on the issues that face not only his constituents who commute but rail passengers across the country There is no doubt that there are significant concerns about overcrowding on a number of routes at particular times of the day including those used by his constituents The Government take those concerns very seriously We also take seriously the problems on routes into a number of cities around the country That is one of the reasons why even in these difficult times for the public finances the Government have prioritised investment in our rail network As my hon Friend has generously highlighted the programme of capacity expansion to which we are committed is bigger than anything seen since the Victorian era and a number of the most ambitious and important changes will be taking place in the Great Western franchise area which serves my hon Friend s constituents in Reading Our programme includes a new fleet of IEP intercity express programme electric and bi mode trains built in Newton Aycliffe in County Durham electrification of the lines linking Paddington and Bristol Cardiff Oxford and Newbury upgrades to signalling and train operating systems provision

    Original URL path: http://www.aloksharma.co.uk/content/alok-sharma-leads-parliamentary-debate-rail-ticketing-and-overcrowding (2016-02-14)
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  • Rail Minister welcomes Sharma’s ‘well-thought-through’ contribution on rail sector reform
    debate Mr Sharma called for a greater amount of transparency in rail franchise agreements on overcrowding as well as flexible and more imaginative new approaches to ticketing including use of smart ticketing to allow for more value for money fare offers for commuters Mr Sharma also suggested that all new rail franchise agreements should offer expectant mothers and the disabled free upgrades to First Class on their season tickets if there are no seats available in Standard Class The Minister of State for Transport Theresa Villiers described Mr Sharma s contribution as interesting and well thought through After the debate Alok said I am pleased that the Government is taking on some of the reform suggestions I made Rail overcrowding and high fares are an issue for many of my constituents and I will continue to press for a better deal for them Click here for full speech Campaign Train Overcrowding Wednesday March 7 2012 Alok Sharma MP Reading West The Reading West constituency embraces parts of two local unitary authorities Reading Borough and West Berkshire Reading Battle Kentwood Minster Norcot Southcote Tilehurst and Whitley West Berkshire Birch Copse Calcot Pangbourne Purley Theale and Westwood Copyright 2016 All rights reserved

    Original URL path: http://www.aloksharma.co.uk/print/317 (2016-02-14)
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  • Sharma welcomes Government funding of new carriages for rail passengers in Reading
    well as in Bristol and the far south west of England The extra carriages which are planned to come into service in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games will be deployed on morning and evening peak services serving the capital and commuting towns including Reading Alok said As a result of this 28 9 million investment Reading will see 1 483 extra seats available during the morning peak and 1 731 extra seats during the evening peak hours which will be welcome news for many of my constituents who like me commute every day Overcrowding has been a feature of travelling to London at peak times for many years and I am extremely pleased that these new Government funded carriages will help to take some of the pressure off overcrowding Alok continued Despite being left with some awful public finances by the previous Labour administration the Government is funding an 850 million major expansion of Reading Station and providing an additional 9 6 million for the scheme to improve road access to the upgraded station which I and others successfully campaigned for Earlier this year Reading also received a further 4 9 million of Government funding for green travel

    Original URL path: http://www.aloksharma.co.uk/print/292 (2016-02-14)
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  • Tackling overcrowding on trains: In the Press
    peak time trains launched by Alok Sharma The Week in Westminster With Reading West MP Alok Sharma Alok Sharma MP Reading West The Reading West constituency embraces parts of two local unitary authorities Reading Borough and West Berkshire Reading Battle Kentwood Minster Norcot Southcote Tilehurst and Whitley West Berkshire Birch Copse Calcot Pangbourne Purley Theale and Westwood Copyright 2016 All rights reserved This website is funded from Parliamentary allowances Privacy

    Original URL path: http://www.aloksharma.co.uk/print/877 (2016-02-14)
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web-archive-uk.com, 2016-10-27