Train seats into London 'to increase by 20%' by 2019

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Media captionThe percentage increase in seats for London is lower than for large regional cities in England and Wales

Network Rail has announced plans for 20% more seats on trains going into London during the morning rush period.

By 2019 there will be an extra 115,000 seats, bringing the total up to 654,000, the rail film said.

But the percentage increase in seats for London is lower than for large regional cities in England and Wales, which will see a 32% increase.

The plans are part of Network Rail's business plan for the 2014-19 period.

Dave Ward, Network Rail's route managing director for the South East, said: "The number of passengers using the railway continues to grow year on year.

"As the railway gets busier, the number of challenges increase and it becomes more complex than ever to run a reliable and cost-effective railway. "

'Significant benefit'

Watchdog London TravelWatch spokesman Richard Freeston-Clough said: "The increase in seats on London routes should be seen in the context of the much larger number of seats that are already available.

"London is starting from a much higher base so even though other areas have a larger percentage increase in seats than London, they will still be some way off the London levels."

Other plans announced by Network Rail include:

  • A £300m investment to increase capacity into London Waterloo, including platform extensions to accommodate longer 10-car trains and the integration of the former Waterloo International terminal and its platforms to increase capacity within the station
  • As part of the redevelopment of £6bn London Bridge station, Thameslink services which run through the centre of London will be diverted away from London Bridge between 2014 and 2017, running instead via Elephant and Castle.

Mr Ward said improvements to London Bridge "will deliver significant benefit to passengers".

Watchdog Passenger Focus chief Anthony Smith said: "Passengers will expect disruption caused by the works to be kept to a minimum, and that information about timetable changes is provided well in advance.

"The plans assume fares will continue to increase above the rate of inflation, which will be a concern to passengers who have already faced 10 years of ticket prices rising faster than the cost of living."

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