County council chairman slams move to axe Clapham Junction stop on Exeter-Waterloo line

PUBLISHED: 09:21 13 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:18 14 December 2017

Councillor John Hart, leader of Devon County Council.

Councillor John Hart, leader of Devon County Council.

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Cllr John Hart penned a strongly-worded response to a consultation about removing the Clapham Junction stop for some services.

Plans to cut an important stop for some services on the Exeter to Waterloo rail line have been branded as a ‘step too far’ by Devon County Council’s chairman.

Cllr John Hart penned a strongly-worded response to a consultation about removing the stop at Clapham Junction for some weekday services on the line, brought forward by South Western Railways.

South Western Railway has said it will be making some major changes to train services in the December 2018 timetable and has worked with customers and stakeholders;to draw up the plans.

But Mr Hart said Clapham Junction stop should be included in all Exeter services, adding: “This is a very important interchange for many passengers from Devon to a number of key destinations.

“These include Gatwick Airport, Victoria Station, Twickenham, Wimbledon and Croydon as well as other parts of South and South West London, the London Overground and Kent.

““This service is particularly popular for leisure users in both directions and we know they especially value the easy interchange at Clapham if they’re carrying luggage or if they have mobility problems.

“Business users going to Croydon also find it a very useful stop.

“And we know that a high proportion of passengers get on and off at Clapham – particularly those travelling outside the peak periods.”

Mr Hart said that the council has ‘long campaigned’ for improvements to services on the line with a reduction in journey times.

He added: “That’s increasingly important because of the problems we have encountered on the Paddington line.

“I know that reducing stops can cut journey times but there has to be a balance and this is a step too far.”

Mr Hart said the county council welcomed the proposal for more morning and evening services to and from Exeter as well as a later train from Waterloo at 9.25pm.

A new service was proposed from Exeter at 5.50am and the county was asking if this could stop at Cranbrook.

He added: “Cranbrook is becoming an important station for people living on the east of Exeter and in parts of East Devon such as Exmouth.

“It would be good if the new service could stop there.”

The consultation supports the continuation of a Saturday seasonal service between Waterloo, Yeovil and Weymouth as a way of opening up new opportunities for leisure and tourism.

The consultation is due to run until Friday, December 22.

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