Latest News & Events

Latest news from the Alton Line and ALUA will be posted here, along with details of forthcoming events. If you have any news to submit, please contact us.

7th November 2016 - Wanted - Website & Social Media Editor

ALUA's longstanding website and social media editor, Daniel Hill, has recently moved out of the area and so is no longer a regular user of the Alton Line.
Although he is happy to maintain ALUA's online presence in the short term, we are looking for a new volunteer Website & Social Media Editor to fill this position going forward.

The role involves:

As well as having appropriate technical knowledge, the ideal candidate would also be someone who regularly uses the Alton line themselves, for commuting, leisure or both, and therefore is up to date with current events affecting the rail service.

If you are interested in the role or have any questions, please e-mail Daniel at webmaster@altonlineusers.com

7th November 2016 - AGM

Many thanks to everyone who attended our AGM and Public meeting on Thursday 3rd November. It was nice to see such a good turnout despite the cold weather.
Thanks also to the representatives from South West Trains who took time out of their evening to provide updates and take questions.

30th September 2016 - Farnham Car Park Opens

We are pleased to report that the new double-deck car park at Farnham Station fully re-opened today after 5 months of construction work.
The first member of the public to use it was ALUA Chair, David Jones.
ALUA has been lobbying South West Trains for improved car parking at Farnham for at least 9 years and we are glad that Farnham's rail users will now have a better chance of finding a parking space when using the station.

30th September 2016 - Farnham Car Park Opens

We are pleased to report that the new double-deck car park at Farnham Station fully re-opened today after 5 months of construction work.
The first member of the public to use it was ALUA Chair, David Jones.
ALUA has been lobbying South West Trains for improved car parking at Farnham for at least 9 years and we are glad that Farnham's rail users will now have a better chance of finding a parking space when using the station.

30th September 2016 - Alton Station Forecourt Improvements Consluation

East Hampshire District Council, working with South West Trains, Hampshire County Council and Alton Town Council, are proposing improvements to the forecourt area at Alton Station as a key ‘gateway’ into the town and to the South Downs National Park.

A number of measures for the forecourt area are proposed which will help to make the forecourt a more attractive entry point into the town, improve pedestrian and cycle access, ensure bus services are clearly signed and review the current parking arrangements.

You can find out about the proposed improvements and respond to the consultation on the East Hampshire District Council website.

28th September 2016 - ALUA Public Meeting & AGM

ALUA is holding a public meeting with managers of South West Trains and Network Rail on Thursday 3 November 2016, 19:30, at the United Reformed Church, South Street, Farnham, GU9 7QU. ALUA members will have the opportunity to hear from the rail company managers and question them about issues of concern.

Please come and support ALUA at this event and help us promote the interests of passengers using the Alton line. We look forward to seeing you at the meeting.

Notice is also given that the Annual General Meeting of the Alton Line Users Association will be held at the same time and place on 3 November for the following purposes:

1. To receive the Chair’s report and Treasurer’s report for the year ended 31 March 2016.
2. To consider elections to the committee from the nominations received.
3. To transact any other business.

6th May 2016 - Alton-Farnham Line re-opens

Following a last-minute decision, the line between Alton and Farnham reopened slightly earlier than expected on Tuesday 3rd May. (Network Rail press release).
Unfortunately, this was not communicated very well to staff and passengers, and caused quite a lot of confusion. SWT have apologised for this.
We have been advised that the re-opened section will be subject to a 20mph speed restriction and that further work is required to completely repair the damage and allow trains to run at full speed. Unfortunately this will probably mean additional closures of the line while this work takes place.
We are disappointed to hear that SWT are not planning to offer seaon ticket holders any compensation for the disruption, claiming that the bus replacements were adequate and delays did not exceed an hour. We intend to raise this issue further.

Repair to the line between Farnham and Alton

Photo: Network Rail

29th April 2016 - Alton-Farnham Line to reopen on 4th May

Following repair work to the embankment near Wrecclesham, the line between Alton and Farnham is due to reopen ahead of schedule on Wednesday 4th May.
Further work is still required to permanently repair the embankment and a 20mph speed restriction will remain in place.
For the latest information, please see the SWT Website and the Joint Statement from SWT & Network Rail.

20th April 2016 - Alton-Farnham Line to be closed until at least 9th May

Following subsidence of an embankment in early April, the line between Alton and Farnham was subject to a speed restriction, and then closed completely for emergency repairs from 13th April.
The latest news from South West Trains & Network Rail is that the line will remain closed until Monday 9th May.
In the meantime, replacement buses have been running between Farnham and Alton, with a minibus serving Bentley station.
The Farnham Car Park closure, originally scheduled to start on 18th April, has been postponed until 9th May.

The photos below, courtesy of SWT, show the extent of the damage to the embankment.

Embankment damage between Farnham and Alton Embankment damage between Farnham and Alton

The ALUA committee are keeping a close eye on the situation and receiving updates from SWT.
Once the situation is resolved, we hope that SWT will consider providing some compensation to Alton and Bentley commuters for the significant disruption they have endured.

For the latest updates and for information on replacement bus services, please see the SWT Website.

2nd March 2016 - Farnham Station Car Park closure

From 18th April until August, the car park at Farnham station will be closed for improvement work.
This will include adding a second deck to the car park which will provide an additional 170 spaces.
There is an opportunity to meet the project team and find out more on 8 March, 5-8pm in the booking hall at Farnham station.
For more details and information about alternative parking arrangements, please see the South West Trains website.

20th January 2016 - ALUA Response to South Western Franchise Consultation

The ALUA committee have submitted a formal response to the DfT's South Western Franchise Consultation. Our response aims to highlight the needs of Alton Line users and ensure that they are taken into account when the DfT produces the Invitation to Tender for the franchise.
You can download our response here (PDF Format)
The original consultation document is available on the DfT Website and the consultation period remains open until 9th February.

14th December 2015 - South Western Franchise Consultation

The South Western Rail Franchise is due to be re-tendered in 2017, and the Department for Transport is holding an open consultation to help develop the franchise specification.
This is an opportunity for stakeholders like ALUA and individual passengers to give their view on the current franchise and priorities for the new one.
The ALUA committee will be working during January to develop a formal response to the consultation, ahead of the deadline of 9th February. Our response will be published here when completed.
We have also already held productive meetings with several companies who are interested in bidding for the new franchise.
To view the consultation document in full or to submit a response, please see the DfT Website.

14th December 2015 - Alton Line Timetable Changes

The South West Trains timetable changed on Sunday 13th December, and we have been advised by SWT that the following weekday changes will affect Alton line services.

14th December 2015 - ALUA AGM Report

The 2015 ALUA AGM and Public Meeting took place on Thursday 29th October in Farnham.
We were pleased to be joined by Chloe Clarke, SWT Suburban Network Manager and James Beveridge - SWT Alton Line Area Manager who took questions from the audience.
The full report and minutes can be downloaded here (PDF Format)
We would like to thank everyone who took time out of their evening to attend.

23rd September 2015 - ALUA AGM

The 2015 ALUA AGM and Public Meeting will take place on Thursday 29th October at 7:30pm in the United Reformed Church in Farnham (10mins walk from Farnham station).
We have invited representatives from South West Trains and Network Rail to join us and take questions from the audience.
The meeting is open to all; you don't have to be an ALUA member to attend.
We look forward to seeing you there!

23rd September 2015 - Farnham Car Park capacity improvement

We have now received confirmation that plans are going ahead to provide a badly-needed capacity increase for the Farnham station car park.
This will probably be in the form of an additional deck, as at Farnborough.
ALUA's committee will be working with South West Trains, Network Rail and local authorities to ensure the solution best meets the needs of rail users and the local community.
We will provide more information on detailed plans as soon as we have it.

18th November 2014 - AGM Report

The 2014 ALUA AGM was held on Thursday 16th October at the United Reformed Church, Farnham.
We were joined by Amy Dickens - SWT Area Station Manager, Woking, Steve Hennell - SWT Station Manager, Alton Line, James Webb - Assistant Operations Manager, Network Rail, Wessex Area and Matt Bentley - Health & Safety Zonal Manager, Network Rail, Wessex Area (+ spare-time signalman).

Chris Campbell has decided to stand down as chair of ALUA after holding the position for 23 years and was presented with a vintage platform ticket from Alton as an 'interim' gift. Chris will remain on the ALUA committee.
David Jones was elected to the position of Chair and John Eddlestone to the position of Vice-Chair.
The other committee members/officers elected were Paul Barber (Secretary/Alton), Diane McKay (Alton), Graham Titterington (Alton), Jonathan Riddell (Minutes Secretary/Farnham), Mike Roberts (Aldershot), Barry Jones (Treasurer/Aldershot), Daniel Hill (Ash Vale).

After the formal meeting, the speakers from South West Trains and Network Rail took questions from the floor. The questions and answers are summarised below.
We would like to thank our speakers for giving up their evening to join us, and everyone else for coming along.

Q. Why are there still problems with the new signalling on the Alton line?
A. James Webb (JW): No more problems now occurring than elsewhere on the network but implementation of new signalling control did have problems. Work going on to signalling and signalling system still improving and hopefully will get better still. On the whole work did not replace signals but replaced the signalling control centre by moving it to Woking.

Q. Are there plans to redecorate Ash Vale station?
A. Stephen Hennell (SH): No plans to redecorate but work to ensure litter etc at Ash Vale is kept to minimum and cleanliness to improve. He is looking to work with the nearby Tesco Store to improve cleanliness.

Q. There was a door failure on the 7.25pm from Waterloo on Tuesday 14th October which meant that Passengers could not get off the train for a while at Aldershot. No info from guard.
A. SH: This is unacceptable guard should have kept passengers informed of the situation. Will follow this up.

Q. Why was council not informed Halcrow was giving out survey forms for local traffic plans for Aldershot Station?
A. SH: Station managers also not told until last minute. Communications need to be improved. Will follow up.

Q. New developments at Aldershot and elsewhere. What strategic plans are being made by SWT to cope with this? Are councils and SWT talking to each other. Need double track to Alton.
A. SH: This is above our level and we’ll. I will have to come back to you about this.

Q. Lack of parking at stations. Could not find new upper car park at Winchester.
A. SH: No plans to improve carparks at Alton line stations in the short term. Will look into signage at Winchester.

Q. Are there any plans for 3 day season tickets for those who work part time? Will it be a requirement for future franchise. Other operators sell carnets. Would more people travel?
A. SH: SWT are not currently looking at this and it is not in their retail strategy. Agreed that it could relieve pressure on car parks and take cars off the road.
JW: This may have been something floated by the Government or Stagecoach. The name of Paul Chick of Stagecoach was mentioned.

Q. Can SWT install another ticket machine at Alton station, possibly by bookstall as the existing machine suffers from rain and does not always work?
A. SH: Problems caused partly by delayed replacement of station roof and canopy. Roof should be finished by tomorrow. Ticket machines are expensive, technology changing very quickly. A new style machine is being trialled at Woking that allows direct communication with a human in a call centre. Possible that this is the type to use in the future.

Q. Can anything be done about dangerous parking in Southern Way, Farnham? Problem with selfish people parking on double yellow lines, blocking exit to Tilford Road.
A. SH: As this is a public highway this is a police issue, not SWT. Need to get police to blitz people waiting there to pick up people coming off trains. (Can SWT ask police to come or should it be local residents?) SH agreed to talk to the Council about this.

Q. Can anything be done about overcrowding on the 15:53 ex-Waterloo service? Needs to be more than four coaches.
A. Amy Dickens (AD): We will look into this.

Q. Will there be delays due to leaf fall season?
A. Yes, but our timetable has not been rewritten, but some delays likely. Should have been posters at stations, will get some put up.

Q. We are drawing up plans for Local Sustainable Transport Fund in preparation if money becomes available. What is SWT doing about bicycles on trains and at Stations? Is Farnham on the list?
A. AD: We have installed a cycle hub at Woking. This is popular. Alton line stations no doubt down list and will eventually have new cycle parking facilities. Where cyclists can book spaces these are often booked for the year but then not used. This is a problem.

Q. Why was there not more consultation and warning about reduction of Heathrow RailAir services from Woking. Also little publicity about new services to Heathrow from Aldershot.
A. SH: This was due to National Express who run the service. Little if any consultation with SWT. Better communication needed. Same applies to services from Aldershot.

Q. Why is the service so poor, with trains especially the 7.58 Farnham to Waterloo often late? Not enough seats. On triple seats they are too narrow for 3 adults. Why has it taken so long to get access to Eurostar platforms? Wouldn’t that solve the problem?
A. Matt Bentley: Mainly due to congestion at Waterloo. Invited person to visit signal box at Wimbledon. Not felt that service as bad as stated. Admitted to congestion at Waterloo with no room for manoeuvre. Eurostar platforms not owned by Network Rail. This has caused delays in gaining access to them. Still not have access to all platforms. Major work needs to be done to track outside Waterloo before they can be utilised to best ability. Platforms 1-9 to be remodelled to accept longer trains. When they reopen should be better service with more flexibility.

Q. Why has my day return to Orpington ticket not worked gates at Waterloo East since September when it works gates at Waterloo?
A. AD: Possibly due to bad batch of tickets.

Q. We often get poor or no response from Customer Service at Southampton. Response to Twitter much better.
A. SH: Explained customer service often have to consult operating staff as to reason for delay, but not really acceptable. Will look into this.

Q, With only one ticket window at Aldershot open, why would TTI not sell tickets when they are at station en mass?
A. SH: They often do sell tickets. Don’t know why one of them would not.

Q, When I contacted SWT about the state of toilets on trains I got a fully detailed response to my email, but only after some delay.
A. A real effort was being made to improve train toilet maintenance. Also, as the Desiro rolling stock is refurbished, Siemens are upgrading the toilets (this is referred to in a SWT marketing flyer).

12th November 2014 - Brian Thomas

Brian Thomas

It is with great regret that we have to advise all our members and friends on the railway of the passing of Professor Brian Thomas, a stalwart of ALUA for the past 40 years, at the age of 85.
Living close to the station at Bentley, he represented us and kept a close eye on the station, and was a good friend to travellers and staff alike.
He will be sorely missed by all that knew him and our thoughts and prayers are with Maureen and his family.
David J Jones - ALUA Chairman

21st October 2014 - ALUA AGM

Thanks to everyone who attended our AGM and Public Meeting on 16th October in Farnham.
Special thanks to the representatives from South West Trains and Network Rail who took time out of their evening to answer questions.
A full report on the meeting will be posted on this website in due course.

30th September 2014 - Steam on the Alton Line

34046 Braunton

[Photo: D. Hill]

There will be a steam railtour running on the Alton Line on Thursday 2nd October.
The train, operated by Steam Dreams, will be hauled by Bulleid 'Rebuilt West Country' No. 34046 'Braunton' and runs from Alresford on the Watercress Line to Kingscote on the Bluebell Railway.
It will depart Alton at 0822 and call at Farnham and Aldershot before running via Ash Vale and Woking. The return will run via Guildford, Aldershot and Farnham before arriving at Alton at 2032. Click here for full timings (thanks to UKSteam.info).

30th September 2014 - Woking-Heathrow RailAir changes.

From Monday 6th October the Woking-Heathrow RailAir bus service (route 701) is being reduced. It will only be hourly for large parts of the day (previously half-hourly all day).
The new timetable can can be downloaded here.

As a small consolation, there will be a new (infrequent) bus service between Aldershot and Heathrow. Some services will be extensions of Woking-Heathrow buses, whilst others will run direct.
Our current understanding is that a passenger who just misses an Aldershot bus (due to train or plane delays) will not be allowed to take the bus to Woking and train to Aldershot from there.
The timetable for the new service can be downloaded here.

5th July 2014 - Alton station car park resurfacing

Resurfacing work wil be taking place at Alton Station car park from Mon 14th to Fri 18th July This will result in reduced parking capacity.
Car Park season ticket holders will be allowed to use Bentley, Farnham, Aldershot or Brookwood instead.
For more information, see the SWT Website.

13th May 2014 - New Timetable

The new South West Trains timetable starts this Sunday, 18th May.
There are no significant changes, but there are a number of improvements to services on the Alton line:

Although many of these changes are long overdue, ALUA welcomes the improvements to the services.
For full details, see the SWT Website.

16th Jan 2014 - Jeremy Hunt supports direct Alton-Guildford services

As reported in today's Farnham Herald, Farnham MP Jeremy Hunt has met the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin to press the case for a direct Farnham to Guildford rail link.
A new 2 trains per hour service was proposed as part of the Surrey Rail Strategy along with a new station to serve the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford and the Surrey Research Park.

ALUA fully support this proposal to improve rail links in the area, but believe that it should also include re-doubling the single line section between Farnham and Alton. This section already acts as a bottleneck with the existing services, leading to trains often being terminated at Farnham during times of disruption. Trying to fit any further trains onto this section will only cause further congestion and delays.

16th Jan 2014 - Weekend Travel anywhere on SWT for Just £10

South West Trains are running a 'Winter Smiles' offer every Saturday & Sunday between 18th January and 23rd February.
They are offering day returns anywhere on the South West Trains network for £10 Adults/£5 Children.
For full details, see the SWT website.

1st Jan 2014 - Happy New Year - And happy 40 years!

2014 marks 40 years since ALUA was founded to represent the rail users of Alton, Bentley, Farnham, Aldershot & Ash Vale.
There have been many changes over the last 40 years. The line is no longer under threat of closure, in fact it's busier than ever. The rolling stock has been modernised, the timetables have changed and operations are now in the hands of Stagecoach South West Trains, rather than British Rail.
However, our goal remains the same, to campaign for high-quality, punctual and reliable rail services which offer good value for money.

26th Jun 2013 - ALUA Response to Surrey Rail Strategy

ALUA has now submitted a formal response to the draft Surrey Rail Strategy.
You can download our response here (PDF Format).
To see the draft rail strategy and supporting documents, please visit the Surrey County Council Website.

26th June 2013 - Aldershot Bridge Progress

The photos below show progress on the new Aldershot footbridge as of 19th June.

Aldershot Footbridge

Photo: B. Jones

Aldershot Footbridge

Photo: B. Jones

9th Jun 2013 - Surrey Rail Strategy

As mentioned in our recent newsletter, Surrey County Council have published their draft Surrey Rail Strategy for consultation.
The strategy outlines some of the key issues affecting rail travel in Surrey and evaluates several options for improvement.
Of particular interest to Alton Line users are:

To view the full set of documents and respond to the consultation, please visit the Surrey County Council Website.
The closing date for responses is 28th June.

9th June 2013 - Aldershot Bridge Progress

The photos below show progress on the new Aldershot footbridge at the end of May.

Aldershot Footbridge

Photo: B. Jones

Aldershot Footbridge

Photo: B. Jones

16th May 2013 - Alton and Bentley work progress

The photos below show progress on the new 'Access for All' bridge at Alton (left) and the extension of Platform 1 at Bentley (right).

Alton Footbridge

Alton Footbridge
Photo: J. Riddell

Bentley Platform Extension

Bentley Platform Extension
Photo: J. Riddell

27th April 2013 - Engineering Work Summary

South West Trains have provided a very useful summary of upcoming engineering work on the Alton Line on their website.
As previously mentioned, major resignalling work will affect train services on a number of weekends, so it's worth keeping a close eye on this page for details.

9th April 2013 - Footbridge progress photos

The photos below show the latest progress on the new footbridges at Alton and Aldershot

Alton

Alton Footbridge

Photo: J. Riddell

Alton Footbridge

Photo: J. Riddell

Aldershot

Aldershot Footbridge

Photo: B. Jones

Aldershot Footbridge

Photo: B. Jones

16th March 2013 - Engineering Work Update

South West Trains have provided us with an updated list of planned engineering work affecting the Alton Line for the next few months.
With the resignalling work on the line, and the renewal of Farnham Level Crossing, there are a significant number of weekend closures.
Note that this list is subject to change, and we strongly recommend checking the
Engineering Work pages on the SWT website before travelling at the weekend.

4th March 2013 - Station Work on the Alton Line

Alongside the ongoing signalling work on the Alton Line, significant work is taking place at Alton, Bentley and Aldershot stations:

Aldershot 'Access for All' footbridge;

At Aldershot a new footbridge is being constructed at the 'country end' of the station, which will include lifts to provide step-free access between Platform 1 and Platforms 2/3.
This will be a welcome replacement for the existing subway, which is in a rather poor state and prone to flooding.
The photos below show work commencing on the foundations for the bridge, and the diagrams (taken from the planning application) show how the final article will look.

Aldershot Footbridge

Photo: B. Jones

Aldershot Footbridge

Photo: B. Jones

Aldershot Footbridge

Photo: B. Jones

Aldershot Footbridge

Photo: B. Jones

Aldershot Bridge Front Elevation

Diagram from Planning Application

Aldershot Bridge Side Elevation

Diagram from Planning Application

Bentley Platform Extension

At Bentley, the platforms are being extended, to reduce the need for Selective Door Opening (SDO) on longer trains. To facilitate this work, part of the car park is currently unavailable.

Bentley Platform Extension

Photo: J. Riddell

Bentley Platform Extension

Photo: J. Riddell

Alton 'Access for All' footbridge

As at Aldershot, a new bridge with lifts is being installed at the 'London end' of the station, to provide step-free access to Platforms 2/3.
This will make the recently installed flat-crossing largely redundant.
We understand that the existing bridge will be retained and the new bridge will be sympathetic to the 'heritage' appearance of the station.

Alton Bridge Foundations

Photo: D. McKay

Alton Bridge Foundations

Photo: J. Riddell

Once this work is complete, all stations on the Alton Line apart from Ash Vale will have step-free access to all platforms.
The layout of Ash Vale (on top of an embankment) will make providing step-free access there significantly more difficult and we are not aware of any current plans to do so.

12th February 2013 - 'Love Trains, Hate High Fares'

On Valentines Day (14th Feb) Together for Transport is holding 'Love Trains, Hate High Fares' events at a number of stations across the network.
For full details see the list of stations on their website.

27th January 2013 - Upcoming Engineering Work

As part of the resignalling work on the Alton line, there will a number of weekends where engineering work will result in the train service being replaced by buses.
SWT have advised that buses will replace trains on the following dates:

For the latest details and timetables, see the Engineering Work pages on the SWT website.

14th November 2012 - AGM Report and Fare Increases

Many thanks to everyone who attended the ALUA AGM on Tuesday 16th October. We'd especially like to thank the representatives from SWT and Network Rail who took time to attend and answer questions from the floor.
Some key highlights include:

There were also a number of committee changes at the AGM. Brian Thomas (Bentley) and Michael Mitchell (Alton) have both stepped down. We would like to thank them both for their hard work and the valuable contribution they have made to ALUA over many years.
We also welcome John Eddleston (Alton) and Ruth Moore (Aldershot) to the committee.

In other news, since the last update, the government has made a welcome decision to reduce the regulated fares increase cap for next year from RPI+3% to RPI+1%.
Although this will be a relief to many commuters, ALUA would still like to see future fare increases set at, or below, inflation.

Finally, ALUA is now experimenting with social media. We are now on Twitter (as @AltonLineUsers) and Facebook
We appreciate that these may not be everybody's 'cup of tea,' but they may provide an opportunity to reach new members.

23rd August 2012 - ALUA Statement on proposed fare increases

ALUA's committee are disappointed to learn that the government continues to press ahead with plans to increase regulated rail fares by RPI + 3% in January 2013.
This will lead to season tickets and other regulated fares going up by an average of 6.2% (with some rising as much as 11%) at the same time as many workers are experiencing pay freezes or cuts.

We call upon our local Members of Parliament; Michael Gove (Ash Vale), Gerald Howarth (Aldershot), Jeremy Hunt (Farnham) and Damian Hinds (Alton & Bentley) to step forward and represent the rail users of their constituencies by actively pressing their party leadership to reduce or abandon these proposed fare rises.

We also encourage rail users to write to their local MP to express their views on the proposed fare rises and request that the government reconsider this policy. MPs' contact details can be found at www.writetothem.com.

23rd December 2011 - SWT announce future plans to increase capacity

South West Trains and the Department for Transport have today announced plans to impcrease capacity on the SWT Network over 2013/2014
From May 2013 SWT will be receiving the redundant Class 460 units from Gatwick Express, which will be split up and used to extend the class 458s currently used on Reading services from 4 to 5 cars. This will allow trains on the 'Windsor Lines' to be extended from 8 to 10 coaches. Platform 20 at Waterloo will also be brought into use during 2014.
This increase in capacity will free up some class 450 units, which can then be used to lengthen trains on 'Main Line' services.
The highlight for the Alton line is that some of these displaced units will be used to lengthen some evening peak trains from Waterloo from 8 to 12 coaches. Exact details haven't been announced, but ALUA hopes this will include both the 1725 and 1825, which currently experience severe overcrowding.
The full press release can be viewed on the SWT Website.

7th November 2011

Many readers will be aware of the current cable-theft problem affecting the rail network, which has caused increasing disruption and misery as the price of metal continues to climb.
There is an E-Petition on the Government E-Petitions website, requesting that the government change the Scrap Metal Merchants Act 1964 to ban cash transactions.
This would make it more difficult for thieves to sell on stolen cable, and ensure that there was an audit trail for all transactions.
The petition currently stands at over 24,000 signatures. If it reaches 100,000, it will be eligible for debate in the House of Commons, we would encourage all rail users to sign it.
Click here to view and sign the petition.

10th September 2011 - SWT Webchat

South West Trains are running another online 'webchat' on Thursday 15th September, 2pm-4pm.
These webchats provide an opportunity to ask questions and get answers directly from SWT managers, and are a useful forum for airing views about the train service, fares, station facilities etc.
For full details of how to take part, see the SWT website.

10th September 2011 - Ticket offices under threat?

The recent 'McNulty Report,' analysing the value-for-money of Britain's rail network, has proposed that ticket offices at Category E stations should be considered for complete closure.
Category E stations are those which are generally only staffed for a short period each day, and include Bentley, North Camp, Frimley, Ash and Bagshot.
Closure of these ticket offices and de-staffing of the stations would also result in other facilities, such as waiting rooms and toilets, no longer being available for passengers.
ALUA strongly believe that staff on stations are essential to provide information and assistance to passengers, as well as discouraging vandalism and antisocial behaviour.
Although no formal closure proposals have been made for any of our local stations at present, ALUA will strongly object to any that do arise.

9th August 2011 - Engineering Work at Bentley

Extensive engineering works are taking place at Bentley Station each weekend from now until the end of September. The track is being taken up, the track bed excavated and the existing track replaced. The footbridge will stay open but the rail crossing will be closed overnight and every Sunday from now until September 15th.
Those living close to the track along the south side of Station Road will experience considerable noise at night until the work is completed.

26th June 2011 - Upcoming Engineering Work

Engineering work will affect the Alton Line on several weekends in July/August.

All day: 9th/10th Jul, 16th/17th Jul and 23rd Jul - Buses replace trains between Aldershot and Alton. Buses will call at the Star Inn in Bentley, not at the station.
From 20:00 on 6th Aug and all day 7th Aug - Buses replace trains between Farnham and Alton.
From 20:00 on 13th Aug until 12:15 on 14th Aug - Buses replace trains between Farnham and Alton.
Sunday 28th Aug - Buses replace trains between Aldershot and Alton. Buses will call at the Star Inn in Bentley, not at the station.

For full details, see the Engineering Work section of the SWT Website. Note that all details are subject to change.

15th June 2011 - Steam on the Alton Line

For anyone interested in seeing something a little different on the Alton Line, Steam Dreams are running a steam railtour from Alton to Canterbury on Sunday 19th June.
The train will be hauled by ex-LMS 8F No 48151 and will be departing Alton at 0940, calling at Farnham at 0959, Aldershot at 1007 and passing through Ash Vale at 1014. The return leg will be diesel-hauled.

15th June 2011 - Delay Compensation for 6th-9th June

After the severe disruption caused by the signalling failures on Monday 6th June and vandalism on Thursday 9th June, South West Trains have now announced compensation arrangements for affected passengers.
Monthly or longer season ticket holders will receive a half void-day for each of Monday and Thursday, which will be paid when the ticket expires or is renewed.
Holders of weekly seasons and other tickets will be compensated in accordance with the usual Passengers Charter compensation arrangements, which require passengers to fill in a form and send it to the Customer Service centre.
SWT have also advised that they will consider other claims (such as expenses incurred for making alternative travel arrangements) on a case-by-case basis.
For full details and instructions on how to claim, see the SWT website.

30th May 2011 - Notes from the ALUA AGM

The 2011 ALUA AGM took place on Wednesday 18th May in Farnham.
Jason Murphy, Group Station Manager for the Alton line stations, kindly agreed to come along and take questions from the floor.
The notes from the AGM and a summary of Jason's responses to questions can be downloaded below.

Click To Download (MS Word Format). To save to disk, right-click and select 'Save Target As' from the menu.

AGM 2011

Jason Murphy, SWT Group Station Manager (left), David Jones, ALUA Vice-Chairman (centre) and Chris Campbell, ALUA Chairman (left) at the 2011 AGM.
[Photo: B. Jones]

17th April 2011 - ALUA AGM

The ALUA Annual General Meeting will take place on Wednesday 18th May at 7:30pm.

The venue has changed from previous years, and the meeting will be held at the United Reformed Church, South St, Farnham, GU9 7QU. (Click for map)
The church is approximately 10 minutes walk from Farnham station. From the station, head towards Farnham town centre, cross the A31, and proceed along South Street. The church is on the left, next to the traffic lights.

Our guest speaker will be Jason Murphy, new Group Station Manager for the Alton line stations.

1st February 2011 - Report from meeting with SWT/NR

Representatives from ALUA, SWT and Network Rail (NR) met at Woking on Thursday 20th January.

The main focus of the meeting was the NR proposal to improve the signalling in the Farnham area.
NR intend to renew the signals and cabling at Farnham and Bentley, renew the level crossing at Farnham and extend the Bentley passing loop and platforms. This should improve journey times and remove a major cause of train delays.
NR propose to do the work in two phases, the first in 2011 and the second in 2013. Line closures will be confined as far as possible to weekends and Bank Holidays.
As the re-signalling and track work will absorb most of the available funds, no money can be found at present for re-doubling the track between Farnham and Alton.

A number of other points were also discussed, including car park charges on Bank Holidays and the 20 minute waiting area at Alton.
The issue of rail ticket acceptance on buses from Aldershot during disruption was raised, and this has now been approved.
Also, SWT advised that rail replacement buses during the week will call at Bentley Station, but the larger coaches used on Sunday services will stop in the village, as they cannot turn at the station. Notices will be prominently displayed at Bentley Station when this is the case.

Finally, the trolley service on the 1014 service from Alton to Waterloo has seen little use and will be discontinued.

24th January 2011 - GOCO Mid Hants Link trial postponed until further notice

GOCO has issued the following press statement about the Mid Hants Link trial:

GOCO Mid Hants Link rail trial to be postponed

GO! Co-operative Limited trading as GOCO, a multi-stakeholder sustainable travel co-operative, has announced that the trial period for its Mid Hants Link rail service – originally scheduled to begin on 24 January 2011 – is now postponed until further notice.

Following technical issues encountered during the testing programme, it has not been possible to repair the vehicle ahead of the scheduled launch of the public service. Work will continue to address the technical issues with the existing vehicle and during this time, alternative options for a replacement vehicle will also be considered.

Chris Phillimore, Business Development Director for GOCO, said: "We have been very heartened by the overwhelmingly positive response to the concept of the service and feel more confident about its long term success than even when we began planning six months ago. We are committed to providing a reliable high-quality service and will not commence operations with any type of vehicle until we can be satisfied that this can be delivered. We are confident that a suitable solution can be identified and that the trial will go ahead in the very near future."

Further announcements will be made when the technical issues have been resolved or an alternative vehicle has been sourced. Posters will be distributed and GOCO staff will be present at Alton and Medstead & Four Marks stations on Monday 24 January 2011 to inform any passengers of the postponement of the trial service.

For further updates, please visit www.goco.coop/mid-hants.

19th January 2011 - GOCO Mid Hants Link trial delayed

We have been advised that, due to technical issues, the GOCO Mid Hants link trial will now commence on 31st January, not 24th January as previously announced.

22nd December 2010 - GOCO Mid Hants Link trial information

We have received additional information about the proposed GOCO Mid Hants Link trial service between Medstead & Four Marks and Alton.

The trial will now run on Monday-Friday for 4 weeks from Jan 24th to Feb 18th (This is one week later than originally proposed).

Connection will be made with 5 morning departures from Alton to Waterloo from 06.44 to 08.44 inclusive, and with a corresponding number of evening arrivals at Alton between 17.41 and 20.04.
Morning Departures of the GOCO Mid Hants Link from Medstead & Four Marks will be at 06.22, 06.53, 07.24, 07.55 and 08.27. Evening departures from Alton will be at 17.46, 18.35, 19.08, 19.39 and 20.10.

Fares for the duration of the trial period have been agreed as:
Adult: £3.00 single, £5.00 return
Child: £2.00 single, £3.00 return.
Tickets will be issued on the GOCO Mid Hants Link train. (No through ticketing is possible onto SWT for the period of the trial.)

Additional parking has been arranged at Medstead & Four Marks in the Woodlea Park industrial estate, and the MHR will also bee installing cycle hoops.

Volunteer staff are still sought for ticket issue duties on the Link trains, in order to provide a small pool of staff. Safety training will be offered by the MHR to cover emergency situations.
If any ALUA members are interested in this duty (which carries some remuneration), please contact Chris Phillimore of GOCO for details on 07740 541946.

12th December 2010 - Fares Comparison Table

ALUA has produced a fares comparison table, showing the existing fares to London from Alton Line Stations, the 2011 fares, and the percentage increase.

Click To Download (PDF Format). To save to disk, right-click and select 'Save Target As' from the menu.

It is clear that, despite SWT announcing an average fare rise of 6.5%, users of the Alton line will have to endure much higher increases, with most season tickets increasing by over 7%, some as much as 7.3%.
Day fares also face large increases, with many fares rising by around 7%.

9th December 2010 - Commuter Trial on the Mid-Hants Railway

We have received news that GOCO (Go Co-operative) will be running a trial commuter service on the Mid Hants Railway between Medstead & Four Marks and Alton in early 2011.
The service will use a Parry People Mover, a a lightweight railcar which has ‘green credentials’ by using a stored energy flywheel drive system powered by a small diesel engine.
The trial service is currently planned to operate Monday-Friday between 17th January and 11th February, with 6 return trips in each morning and evening peak, connecting into SWT services at Alton.
Full details will be published nearer the time, and look out for leaflets at Alton station.

1st December 2010 - Autumn Newsletter and fares increases

The Autumn 2010 newsletter is now available to download. Copies will also be available at Alton Line stations shortly.
Note, at the time of going to press, SWT's annual fare increases had not been published. SWT have since stated that fares will rise by an average of 6.5% in January, a significant blow to workers who are facing pay freezes or cuts.
For more information, see the news item on the SWT website. A full breakdown of the changes for Alton Line users will follow shortly.

29th November 2010 - Autumn Newsletter

The ALUA autumn newsletter is now complete and will be with members, and on this website, shortly.

17th July 2010 - Notes from meeting with SWT

Members of the ALUA committee met with representatives from SWT and Network Rail on 8th July. The following key points came out of the meeting:

Farnham Area Resignalling

No new developments, pending a review of SWT’s and NR’s overall expenditure expected on October 20th

Timetable Changes

Complaints about the slow running of trains from Waterloo to Alton continue, but any speed-up is unlikely on the Alton line.There may, however, be minor timing adjustments to some of the Basingstoke line services.
There will be a ten day closure of lines leading into Reading Station once rebuilding gets under way. Details are not yet complete but a new platform, [4c], for the Gatwick-Guildford-North Camp-Reading services is probable.

Alton Line Stations

Ash Vale:
“Directions to North Camp” posters are now in place. No further “hygiene” problems reported.

Aldershot:
It was stressed that much needs to be done to the station before 2012. Smoking on station premises late at night and at weekends is an ongoing problem.

Farnham:
The whole station is due for repainting shortly..

Bentley:
After complaints that weekend replacement buses are not stopping at the station as previously agreed with ALUA, SWT have investigated and will send a written report shortly.
Following successful soil tests carried out on 4th March, plans to extend Bentley’s car park by another nine car spaces (making 94 in all) are now at an advanced stage.

Alton:
Potholes at the station entrance and in the car park will be filled in shortly and new layout markings will follow. The recent abolition of the popular 20 minute waiting area is being investigated.

29th June 2010 - Notes from the 2010 AGM

Notes from the 2010 AGM, held on June 22nd, are now available to download. These provide an outline of the issues discussed.

Click To Download (MS Word Format). To save to disk, right-click and select 'Save Target As' from the menu.

If you have any comments, or would like further details on any of the items, please get in touch.

14th April 2010 - Alton station building work

Alton station booking office will be closed from Sunday 18th April until Monday 26th April, while building work is carried out. We understand that this is to provide a wheelchair-accessible ticket office counter.
During the closure, extra staff will be available to sell tickets with portable machines, and to assist customers with using the Ticket Vending Machine.

25th February 2010 - SWT Web Chat transcript

The full set of questions & answers from today's SWT web chat are now available to view on the SWT Website.
Those that specifically relate to the Alton line have been reproduced below:

Question 34 - Ash Vale ticket office

Q: I am disappointed to see Ash Vale on the list of proposed ticket office hours changes, and I understand that the Department for Transport had already vetoed a previous attempt to close the ticket office on Sundays. A better solution would be to improve the Sunday service, resulting in more customers.

A: I understand your concerns.
We have thought carefully about the stations at which we propose to reduce the hours of opening and with the low level of ticket issues on a Sunday, Ash Vale no longer warrants the ticket office being open. Customers can still purchase tickets through the vending machine or via the internet.
There are no plans to change the frequency of train service on a Sunday.

Question 70 - Platform changes for the 17:25 Waterloo-Alton

Q: The 17:25 Waterloo-Alton train has departed consistently from Platfom 8 for well over a year, yet in the last few weeks it seems to randomly swap between 8 and 13, causing confusion to passengers and staff. Why is this, and will we see a return to a consistent platform anytime soon?

A: Thank you for enquiry. We are currently running a staff training program at Basingstoke on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, which requires an eight-coach train to be available for the staff to work on. Because of this requirement an alteration has been made to the planned wolrkings so that the coaches for the Alton train now comes from the sidings ay Clapham and has to run to Platform 13 instead of Platform 8.
This change of platform at Waterloo will apply through to May this year, the 17:25 to Alton will run from platform 8 on Mondays and Fridays only and from platform 13 on the other days.
I hope this response will help you plan your journey home.

Question 75 - Weekend train lengths

Q: Saturday morning London-bound services on the Alton-Waterloo line are only formed of 4 cars, yet they are often full and standing from Woking and wedged from Surbiton. The same applies southbound in the aftenoon. When are you going to appreciate that there are 'peaks' at the weekend too and provide enough stock so that everyone can get a seat?

A: I appreciate that some of our weekend services are busy, but only in normal circumstances, for short parts of the journey. As part of our planning processes, we try to match capacity to demand and review our rolling stock provsion accordingly; obviously it does not make sence to provide carriages that are not used for much of the day. We do strengthen some of the services you mention on Saturdays on the lead up to Christmas and during special events

Question 81 - Ticket validity to Farnborough on the 0105 down train

Q: The last train to Ash Vale & Aldershot leaves Waterloo at 00:05, but there is a later train at 01:05 that calls at Farnborough. Could tickets to Ash Vale and Aldershot be made valid on this train as far as Farnborough to allow passengers the option of a taxi home from there instead?

A: Whilst I understand your point, I'm afraid that differing fare levels between Aldershot and Farnborough make this difficult to agree. We do offer season tickets that allow travel between either Aldershot/Ash Vale or Farnborough and London, but there is a price premium for the additional availability.
On the occasions that you wish to travel on the 01:05 service, I'd recommend that you purchase a combination of tickets - the cheapest combination will vary, dependent on when you travel and whether your stay in London extends to more than one day.

Question 95 - Waterloo via Ascot services calling at Ash Vale

Q: When the Aldershot-Waterloo via Ascot services call at Ash Vale, there is no warning that only the front four coaches of the eight coach train will be opened, and I have seen people miss the train because they were trying to get into the wrong part. Would it be possible to add a warning announcement, or failing that, instruct the drivers of these trains to stop at the four car stop mark instead?

A: Thank you for your comments. We will look to add information about joining the front four coaches to the announcements and information displays.

Question 103 - Re-doubling Farnham-Alton

Q: Does Network Rail have a date for dualling the track between Alton and Farnham?

A: Network Rail do not have immediate plans to dual the track between Alton and Farnham.
My understanding is that they are currently reviewing other options on this line of route.

Question 112 - Stops at Clapham Junction

Q: When will you be addressing the appalling service from Farnham/Woking etc to Clapham Junction? There is a small window of oppurtunity to travel from Farnham to Clapham (without touching London) and yet the number of trains passing non-stop to Waterloo is huge. I suggest you try and do a return journey planner from Farnham to East Croydon and note the intervals (1.5 hours) between services. The platform is actually shut for 1.5 hours following the 17.02 Alton service, so platform availability cannot be a problem. This service needs urgent attention - thousands of commuters are needlessly being forced into London (at extra cost). Call me cynical, but I think that that last point may be the reason why you do nothing about it.

A: Please see the answer to Question 24 [included below]:
I am aware that many of our customers would like to change at Clapham Junction during the peaks. However, due to the extra time needed to stop services on platform 7, this would cause significant congestion, delay services and result in a reduction in the number of trains on the fast lines.

24th February 2010 - Proposed changes to ticket office hours

South West Trains are proposing to further reduce ticket office hours at a number of stations from Spring 2010.
On the Alton Line, they are proposing to close Ash Vale ticket office all day on Sundays (currently it is open from 0900-1200). Weekday and Saturday hours will be unchanged.
They are also proposing to change Brookwood's opening hours to 0630-1300 (from 0630-2015) Monday-Friday, and close it completely on Sunday.

We firmly believe that having staffed ticket offices is the best way for passengers to get accurate information about train services and fares. Having staff present on a station also discourages anti-social behaviour and fare-evasion.
We would encourage passengers affected by these changes to express their views by responding to SWT's consultation. For more details on the proposed closures and the consultation process, see the SWT website.

Note that SWT is looking to close offices at times when they sell less than 12 tickets per hour, To avoid further closures, we would recommend buying tickets from ticket offices, rather than vending machines, wherever possible and especially at quiet times.

17th February 2010 - SWT Live Web Chat

South West Trains are holding another live web chat on Thursday 25th February, from 2pm to 4pm.
Questions can be submitted up to 24 hours in advance, and will be answered by SWT Managing Director Andy Pitt and other directors.
For more details, see the Web Chat page on the SWT website.

13th February 2010 - 'Meet the Manager' at Woking

South West Trains are holding a 'Meet the Manager' event at Woking station on Thursday 18th Feb, from 1630 to 1900.
These sessions give the opportunity for passengers to meet SWT senior managers and directors and get one-to-one responses to any concerns.
For more details, see the Meet the Manager page on the SWT website.

8th January 2010 - Alton Barrow Crossing

The pictures below show the re-sited barrow crossing at Alton station.
As expected, passengers in wheelchairs now have to travel a much longer distance to cross between platforms 1 and 2.
ALUA have been advised that passengers who arrive at Platform 2 should contact a member of the train crew, who will be able to supervise them across the crossing. Passengers wishing to board a train at platform 2 should contact the station staff.
However, there still appears to be no allowance for the situation where a passenger needs to cross from P1 to board a train at P2 but the station is unstaffed, or the only member of staff is busy selling tickets.

Alton Barrow Crossing

Photo: D. Hill

Sign for Alton Barrow Crossing

Photo: D. Hill

16th December 2009 - Changes to Super Off-Peak ticket restrictions from January

As part of the rollout of Oyster Pay as You Go on National Rail within London, South West Trains will be changing the restrictions on Super Off-Peak tickets, including those from stations on the Alton Line.

From 2nd January 2010, holders of Super Off-Peak tickets will no longer be allowed to travel on trains departing London between 1600 and 1900 Mon-Fri. Any passengers wishing to travel during this period must buy a more expensive Off-Peak ticket instead.

For Alton Line passengers travelling from Waterloo, the last train before the restricted period is the 1553 and the first train after the restricted period is the 1925.
(Note that taking the 1600 Portsmouth train and changing at Woking onto the 1553 is also disallowed.)

SWT seem to be making very little effort to publicise these new restrictions and ALUA are concerned that passengers will board the restricted trains without realising and find that they have to purchase a new, more expensive, ticket or face a penalty fare.
We are also disappointed that SWT did not inform ALUA that such a significant change was taking place, so that our members could be informed.

16th December 2009 - Alton Barrow Crossing

Work to move the barrow crossing at Alton is underway, but we understand that it is being delayed due to problems with the electrical work for the lighting.

We also understand that passengers will only be allowed to use the crossing when accompanied by a member of staff. This will present a problem if a mobility-impaired passenger arrives on a train at Platform 2 at a time when the station is unstaffed.

29th November 2009 - Season Ticket Renewals

Due to the current negative value of Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation, the price of Annual Season Tickets should decrease slightly after 1st January. For anyone who normally renews their ticket in December, it might be worth waiting until after 1st Jan to benefit from the decrease.
Also, when renewing, remember to claim back a refund for 'void days' (days when no service was available). The Alton line has had 2.5 void days this year, as a result of the snow in February.

18th October 2009 - Committee Meeting Report

ALUA’s committee met on Tuesday 29th September in Alton. The main points of discussion are summarised below:

Train Performance

Performance has been generally satisfactory. “Official” figures suggest 96%+ punctuality overall.
After the December timetable change, the 0542 from Alton will arrive at Waterloo at 0654 instead of 0659. However, contrary to what SWT have said previously, there does not appear to be any change to the timings of the 1655 Waterloo-Alton.

Station Reports

  • Alton - No major issues to report.
  • Bentley – No news yet from Network Rail regarding the proposed extension to the car park.
    Staffing is satisfactory.
    Discussions have taken place with SWT about unannounced last-minute platform changes, which have left some passengers stranded on the wrong platform.
    SWT have also been reminded of a commitment made in 2004 (when Bentley's off-peak service was reduced) that if an off-peak train due to stop at Bentley is cancelled, then the next train will stop additionally at Bentley to prevent a gap in the service.
  • Farnham – Problems affecting the car park are under discussion with the local MP, Jeremy Hunt.
  • Aldershot - No work has been done to improve the appearance of the station; pigeon droppings are a continuing problem.
    The ticket gates appear to be working satisfactorily
  • Ash Vale – The Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) returned in July after being absent for around two months.
    As expected, the new platform shelters give inadequate protection in bad weather.
    Surrey Police and British Transport Police have been cracking down on the anti-social behaviour that has affected the station recently, and things seem to be improving.
    The sign giving directions to North Camp Station has still not been replaced.

Penalty Fares and Vandalism

  • The standard penalty fare has now been raised from £20 to £50.
  • It was noted that not all of the Revenue Protection Inspectors (RPIs) are familiar with the valid routes for certain tickets when assessing possible liability for a penalty fare.

Disabled Access at Alton

  • It is confirmed that the barrow crossing at Alton is being moved further towards the London end of the station, to allow it to be used when a 12-coach train is in the platform.
  • This work is due to start on or around 24th November.

ALUA Business

21st September 2009 - Disabled’ Access at Alton

ALUA have been advised that the work to move the barrow crossing at Alton will take place on or around 24th November.

29th August 2009 - SWT Brompton Bike Hire Scheme

South West Trains is making 50 Brompton folding bicycles available for hire to Season Ticket holders and the general public. These bikes have no travel restrictions and can be carried on all SWT services. The scheme is managed by the Lost Property office at Waterloo.

The charge for Season Ticket holders is £5 Weekly, £20 monthly, £50 quarterly or £100 annually.
The charge for non-Season Ticket holders is £5 Daily, £15 Weekly, £40 monthly, £100 quarterly, £250 annually.
A £100 refundable deposit is required.

For more details on the scheme, and to register your interest, please see the SWT Website.

21st August 2009 - SWT Web Chat transcript

The full transcript of Thursday's SWT Web Chat is now available for download from the SWT website.

13th August 2009 - Report from ALUA/SWT meeting on 23rd July

Members of the ALUA committee met with representatives from South West Trains and Network Rail in Woking on Thursday 23rd July.
Peter Brooks, Jenny Saunders and David Josey attended on behalf of SWT, Anna O’Connor attended on behalf of Network Rail. Chris Campbell, David Jones, Jonathan Riddell, Mike Roberts and Brian Thomas attended on behalf of ALUA.
The following issues were raised:

Ticket Office Opening Hours

Problems are occurring at Alton, owing to shortage of staff at critical times. However, vacancies have been advertised and as a result new staff are being recruited and trained. Successful trainees should be in place by October 2009.

Ticket Vending Machines

Many are out of action owing to vandalism and far too many are still in Germany undergoing repair. SWT recognises this and has taken action to speed things up. The 3 p.m. limit on “next day” purchases will be unchanged on the modified machines but the machines themselves will be more secure and provide for a wider range of tickets, including ‘concessions’. The problem should diminish as more staff become available to man ticket offices.

Timetable Changes

The 0542 from Alton will arrive at Waterloo two or three minutes earlier from December 2009, and the 1655 Waterloo to Alton is to be speeded up. The problem of commuters who are required to work at weekends was raised. At present there are too few early weekend trains arriving at Waterloo. Peter Brooks undertook to see if timetable adjustments can be made without incurring disproportionate costs.

Network Rail

The Farnham re-signalling programme will be extended to cover the whole Ash Vale – Alton section of the line, but completion is unlikely before 2011 at the earliest

New “eco-town” at Bordon/Whitehill

Despite the announcement of Bordon/Whitehill as one of the four new carbon-neutral (“eco-”) towns, much depends on whether the Army moves out in the numbers originally forecast. In addition there are other issues to be resolved before any firm plans can be drawn up. Transport, including the possible provision of rail links, is only one of these.

Extension of Car Park at Bentley

There has been no progress on the plan to use redundant railway land to extend the car park at Bentley. Anna O’Connor will investigate and report back on the current situation.

Reduced Fares at Weekends in August 2009

Throughout August (excluding Bank Holidays), weekend journeys throughout the network will be £10 per person per day for travel to SWT destinations.

Bicycles on Trains

A question was raised about the possibility of accommodating bicycles on ‘down’ trains during the ‘peak’ hours.. SWT stated that while they were not prepared to alter the existing restrictions it might be possible, space permitting, for bicycles to be accommodated on the Farnham-Alton stretch of the line only.

The next meeting will be held on 21st January 2010.

11th August 2009 - Changes to train times 26th-31st August

Due to signalling maintenance work taking place in the Aldershot area between Wednesday 26th and Monday 31st August, there will be changes to train times on the Alton-Waterloo and Ascot-Guildford routes.
Trains to Waterloo will depart Alton, Bentley, Farnham and Aldershot earlier than usual. Trans to Alton will arrive at these stations later than usual. Ascot-Guildford trains will be running to a revised timetable.
For full details and revised timetables, see the Engineering Works section on the SWT website.

8th August 2009 - SWT Webchat

South West Trains will be holding another webchat on Thursday 20th August between 2pm and 4pm.
These webchats offer the opportunity for rail users to submit questions to SWT directors. Questions can be submitted up to 24hrs in advance.
For more details, see the SWT website.

8th August 2009 - Ash Vale TVM

The ticket vending machine (TVM) at Ash Vale has now returned after a two-month-absence. It was damaged at the end of May and had to be sent for repair.

8th August 2009 - Heathrow Airtrack TWA

The Transport and Works Act Order (TWA) for the Heathrow Airtrack project has now been submitted. The proposal includes direct services to Heathrow Airport from Guildford, Woking, Reading and London Waterloo.
It seems likely that there will be some impact on Alton services, and the ALUA committee are examining the application.
Full details of Airtrack and the TWA can be viewed on the BAA Website.

15th July 2009 - New information screen at Alton

After campaigning from ALUA, a new Customer Information screen has been installed on platform 1 at Alton, to provide information about departures when the booking office is closed.
Unlike the existing orange CIS displays, the new screen shows all departures, not just those from P1, so there is less risk of passengers failing to realise that the next train departs from P2 until it leaves without them.


New monitor a Alton
The new monitor in place. [Photo: D. McKay.]

10th July 2009 - Committee Meeting Report

ALUA’s committee met on Tuesday 30th June at Bentley. The main points of discussion are summarised below:

Train Performance

Punctuality is generally good, and the Alton/Guildford Group has won the Wessex ‘Golden Carrot’ award for the most right-time starts (trains departing on time). The figure stood at 95% during the previous reporting period.

Station Reports

ALUA Business

10th July 2009 - Upcoming Engineering Work

The Alton line will be affected by engineering work on several weekends during July and August.

For more details, see the Engineering Works section on the SWT website.

26th May 2009 - Waterloo Travel Centre facing closure

South West Trains have announced plans to close the Travel Centre at Waterloo from September 2009 and integrate its services into the main ticket office. (See the News story on the SWT Website for details).

ALUA are concerned that this will reduce the quality of service available to customers who currently use the Travel Centre. This will particularly affect those without Internet access or who are unfamiliar with the complexities of railway ticketing and want face-to-face advice from a knowledgeable member of staff, without having to shout through a glass screen.

The Travel Centre also provides valuable services such as season ticket and railcard purchases to customers who, due to recent ticket office cutbacks, are unable to access them at their local station at a convenient time.

ALUA would like to hear any comments you have on SWT’s plans, so we can include them to our response. Please get in touch.

24th May 2009 - Ash Vale Shelter Progress

Since the completion of the foundations, construction of the shelters has proceeded at a good pace. The main structure is now in place, and bricks are being laid to make up the floor.
The photos below show the state of construction on 24th May. It is obvious that they will provide little protection against wind and driving rain.

Ash Vale shelter progress Ash Vale shelter progress

Photos: D. Hill

16th May 2009 - Anti-Social Behaviour at Ash Vale

During the first few months of this year there have been complaints by members of both the public and ALUA concerning groups of young people who gather at or near Ash Vale Station, apparently giving rise to vandalism and anti-social behaviour in the locality and also harassing individual passengers leaving the station at night.

Both British Transport and Surrey Police have been made aware of this situation.

It is understood that the local Safer Neighbourhood police team have focused on these activities and the Sergeant in charge has reported that there has been a huge reduction in their occurrence due to action taken by police.

It is understood that individuals are on court bail to Guildford Crown Court and that this includes tight evening curfew times at their home addresses. It is also understood that British Transport Police are fully aware of the incidents and that a number of youths have been identified for damage and anti-social behaviour on railway property. Action in respect of these is likely to take place in the near future.

Anyone experiencing or having knowledge of further events of this nature should report these via the Secretary or, better, direct to BTP (via the ‘HELP’ points at the station) or to Surrey Police (contact Sgnt. Alison Adams, Safer Neighbourhood Team, 120 Ash Street, Ash Surrey GU12 6LL : Phone number 0845 1252222 extn 39080.)

14th May 2009 - Ash Vale Shelter Progress

Six weeks after starting work, the foundations for the new shelters at Ash Vale are now virtually complete.
The work has required the contractors to move the excess spoil down the stairs to road level using a wheelbarrow and to bring concrete back up the same way, whilst all the time dodging rail users.
The photos below show the state of the shelters on Wednesday 13th May.

Ash Vale shelter progress Ash Vale shelter progress
Ash Vale shelter progress

Photos: D. Hill

2nd May 2009 - Notes from the 2009 AGM

Notes from the 2009 AGM, held on April 7th, are now available to download. These provide an outline of the issues discussed.

Click To Download (MS Word Format). To save to disk, right-click and select 'Save Target As' from the menu.

If you have any comments, or would like further details on any of the items, please get in touch.

29th April 2009 - New Information Screen at Alton

ALUA have been advised by SWT that they have ordered Customer Information System (CIS) modifications at Alton to improve information when the booking hall is closed.
This will consist of a new flat screen display installed near the night entrance to the station.
Two potential locations have been identified; either above the Ticket Vending Machine by the station entrance, or on Platform 1 between the Gents toilets and the booking hall.
SWT are keen to hear feedback from users of Alton station, if you have any comments, please let us know and we'll pass them on.

29th April 2009 - Timetable changes

New timetables will be in force from Sunday 17th May. There are two minor changes to the Mon-Fri Alton services.

The new timetable will also see the withdrawal of the Bordon to Liphook rail-link bus.
South West Trains are proposing to replace the service by funding extra journeys on the No 18 service bus from Bordon to Farnham.
Users of the rail-link service are campaigning against its withdrawal, for more information on the campaign see the Save Our Rail Link website.

9th April 2009 - SWT 'Try the Train Day' Postponed

We have been advised by SWT that the 'Try the Train' day at Guildford on Tuesday 14th April has been postponed.
Details of future events will be published on this website when they are confirmed.

9th April 2009 - ALUA AGM

The ALUA held a well-attended AGM at the Alton Station Cafe on 7th April.
The existing ALUA committee were re-elected and there was plenty of constructive debate about some of the issues affecting the Alton Line.
Full details of the evening's proceedings will be published in due course.
ALUA would like to thank Dave Josey and Jenny Saunders from SWT for taking the time to attend the meeting, and for providing a valuable contribution to the discussions.

31st March 2009 - Ash Vale Shelters

Work has commenced on the installation of two new waiting shelters at Ash Vale station. ALUA have been advised that these will be of the open fronted, cantilever 'bus stop' type.
We remain unconvinced that these will adequately protect passengers from driving wind and rain from the South West, and had originally argued that enclosed shelters should be provided.
Photos and updates will be added to the site as installation progresses.

18th March 2009 - Upcoming Engineering Works

Major engineering works will be taking place at Wimbledon on the following dates, resulting in disruption to Alton services.

Alton trains will join with Basingstoke trains at Woking on Saturdays as well as Sundays, and will be diverted via Chertsey and Staines, rather than the usual route via Surbiton and Wimbledon.
This will lead to trains being re-timed, Surbiton station not being served by Alton trains and extended journey times to/from Waterloo.
If you are intending to travel on any of these dates, we recommend checking the South West Trains website for amended timetables and to plan your journey.

15th March 2009 - 'Try the Train' day in Guildford, Tuesday 14th April

South West Trains has sent us the following information about an upcoming 'Try The Train' day for disabled passengers, to be held at Guildford Station on Tuesday 14th April:

Following the success of its ‘Try the Train’ days South West Trains is holding a further event to give disabled passengers an opportunity to explore this mode of transport.

The event, being held at Guildford station on 14 April, will highlight the accessibility of train travel for groups including disabled and older people, wheelchair users, people with visual or hearing impairments and those with learning difficulties.

Paul Bentley, Access and Integration Manager, said: “We are aware that transport plays a crucial role in people’s lives but there are a number who lack the confidence or knowledge to travel by rail.

“Our ‘Try the Train’ events have proved both popular and useful to local disabled people and we hope more come along to find out about the service we offer.”

The aim is to introduce train travel to disabled people who may not know the extent of accessibility on trains and those who have not used the train before. It will also provide a forum for regular users to discuss their experiences with South West Trains.

The event will provide information about rail travel, specific rail journeys, information about getting assistance during journeys and an opportunity to look around the trains we operate.

The event – running from 0930 to 1630 - is open to individuals, carers and local groups. Individuals are welcome to turn up on the day but we do ask groups to book a place. They can do this by contacting our Customer Service Centre by phone on 0845 6000 650, email customerrelations@swtrains.co.uk or write to: CSC, Overline House, Southampton, SO15 1GW.

25th February 2009 - New website launched

ALUA has a new website, built and maintained by Daniel Hill.
The intention is to keep the website up to date with news from ALUA and the Alton Line in general.
Comments, queries and suggestions regarding the website are welcome, please e-mail Daniel at webmaster@altonlineusers.com.
For queries about membership or ALUA in general, please see the 'Contact Us' page for way to contact the ALUA secretary.

7th February 2009

The Department for Transport has announced a decision regarding the ‘Access for All’ accessibility proposals to be funded for implementation in the 2009/10 tranche of small schemes.

ALUA is delighted that, as a result of pressure by and support from many parties, Alton Station is to be provided with a split height ticket counter window, accessible toilet and an accessible ‘drop off’ bay.

Somewhat similar proposals for Farnham and Aldershot have not been approved for inclusion in the 2009 – 10 tranche of projects, but these schemes can be resubmitted next year.

5th February 2009

South West Trains have announced a further 180 job cuts on top of the 480 announced last month.

Positions to be cut include revenue protection, ticket office and station staff. Drivers, guards and frontline fleet maintenance staff will not be affected.

4th February 2009

Heavy snow fell across the south-east on the night of Sunday 1st Feb, causing widespread disruption to transport.

South West Trains managed to run a limited service on some routes, however Alton services were suspended on Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd with no replacement transport.

Information was initially poor, with both the South West Trains and National Rail websites unable to cope with the level of demand. Station display screens warned of disruption but did not mention specifics.

Normal service was eventually resumed on Wednesday 4th February, though some trains ran short-formed due to units suffering electrical damage caused by running through ice and snow.

Ash Vale in the snow

Photo: D. Hill

Ash Vale in the snow

Photo: D. Hill

Farnham in the snow

Photo: J. Riddell

Farnham carriage sheds in the snow

Photo: J. Riddell

The photos above show the state of the line on Monday 3rd February.
Top Left - The information presented to passengers at Ash Vale
Top Right - Ash Vale station.
Bottom Left - Farnham station.
Bottom Right - Farnham carriage sheds.