SOUTH Western Railway (SWR) plans to maintain vital services for residents living in North East Hampshire after a proposed change to the rail networks timetable.

North East Hampshire, Ranil Jayawardena MP had previously launched a petition to protect peak services per hour from Hook, Winchfield and Fleet.

More than 3,333 North East Hampshire residents signed the petition with a further 850 residents signed and returned Mr Jayawardena’s special consultation response card urging SWR not to reduce local services.

Mr Jayawardena handed both of these documents over to SWR in person just before Christmas.

After receiving feedback on calling for the retention of four trains per hour at Hook and Winchfield in the peak periods SWR has now amended its plans to accommodate the requirement of four services per hour in the peak to serve these stations.

No local station will now have fewer peak services than they have today.

Following this news Mr Jayawardena said: ““This is good news for hard working people. Following my petition, I'm delighted that SWR have listened and have protected our local services from Hook, Winchfield and Fleet.

“If our local services had been reduced, it would have pushed more people into their cars, on to the roads around Fleet, Farnborough and Basingstoke—not good for anyone—so thanks to everyone who signed my petition.”

He added: “I want to be clear to local people: I am putting you first. Recent reliability on the line has been appalling, we need more and better seats, and current smart ticketing isn’t smart enough.”

“I'm meeting Network Rail again very soon to challenge them on their recent performance and I will continue to push for improvements from SWR too.”

Across their network by 2020, SWR plan to deliver 22,000 extra morning peak seats per day and 30,000 extra evening peak seats at London Waterloo compared to 2017.