RAIL passengers in Southampton will see more than £1.2 billion invested in the network connecting Hamsphire to London Waterloo over the next five years.

With a 50 per cent increase in passengers in the last decade South West Trains and Network Rail Alliance said the cash is part of an investment programme running from now until 2019.

Commuters to the capital will see the greatest benefit with more than 100 new carriages in place by the end of 2014, providing space for an extra 23,000 peak-time passengers every day.

It is part of a wider programme to deliver an extra 115,000 seats a day into the capital by 2019 - an increase of 20 per cent.

South West Trains and Network Rail Alliance managing director Tim Shoveller said there will also be other improvements at Winchester and Brockenhurst stations providing disabled access.

Further details are to come but initial announcements suggest that work will also be done to provide more cycle facilities at stations across the network.

He said: “Passengers are already benefitting from one of the most sustained periods of investment in the railway since Victorian times.

“This is not just about big numbers. It's about practical changes to help improve customers' travel experience for the long-term.

“Our main focus has been on creating more space for the growing numbers of people using our trains and delivering a system which is more robust.

“Even during the economic downturn, rush-hour passenger numbers have grown by 20%, putting a strain in key locations on existing trains, track and signalling.”

He added: “A significant focus of the next five years will be on our hub at London Waterloo and in the Greater London area.

“But we are working to improve services right across our network - in Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset, Surrey and Wiltshire - for both commuters and leisure travellers.”