The Liberal Democrat election campaign swung into action on Thursday 2nd April 2015 with Alex Payton arriving in the town to deliver his nomination papers to Test Valley Borough Council.
En route, a photo call was organised at Andover Train Station, where the local Lib Dems are focusing on as part of their election campaign.
Christopher Ecclestone, Chair of the Lib Dem Andover Branch wrote in his blog:
The presence of a bunch of ” safe ” Tory seats along the stretch of railway between Basingstoke and Salisbury has done no favours to local travellers and commuters. The government has focused improvements on the marginal swing seat of Winchester through which the SouthWest Mainline runs. The line to Salisbury and Exeter has been an orphan line, neglected and steadily becoming more crowded with no service enhancements.
“I will be calling for an end to this neglect, with policies to improve conditions for rail travellers. The biggest gripe of all travellers is the high (and rising) fares and the glacial pace of improvements. Some obvious changes I will be pushing for are:
Electrification of the line between Basingstoke and Salisbury
Second Station at Andover East
Reopen line to Tidworth with stations at Weyhill, Ludgershall and Tidworth
Multi-storey carpark at Andover station
Longer trains in off-peak with a minimum of five carriages
Construct a carpark at Overton
Access to Andover station from northside
The Tories have ignored this issue and ironically it is the Tory MP for the neighbouring constituency of Devizes who is the Minister of Transport for Rail, so the source of these failings is, quite literally, close to home. We cannot accuse her of favouritism though, because rail services in Devizes are even worse than here!
The amazing thing is that most of these improvements would pay for themselves (such as the construction of car parks) and higher ridership, while reducing road usage and the carbon footprint. Enhancements of services to Andover would help lift the whole economy of the area by bringing the benefits of being seen to be ” commutable.”