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Rail line would ease fans' way to Saints
THE vice-chairman of a rail passenger watchdog group has told Railtrack and South West Trains to "pull their finger out" and adopt his "obvious" method of transporting football fans to the new Friends Provident St Mary's Stadium.
Alan Shotter, pictured, vice chairman of the Rail Passenger Committee for Southern England, says he is surprised Railtrack and South West Trains have failed to look at electrifying a current siding line going past the St Mary's Stadium to a level crossing in Peel Street which could be used by supporters to get by rail to matches.
Alan says the hugely successful park-and train-ride specials from Southampton Parkway Airport to Southampton Central, already in operation to encourage shoppers to the city centre, could be expanded to help visitors to the flagship stadium.
As the airport was clearly signposted from the motorway, it would be easy for fans to get to and fully utilise a football rail link.
Alan said: "My plan is not rocket science.
"It would not cost much and a small stretch of new electrified rail line could be integrated into the current South West Trains network in a matter of weeks rather than months.
"A group of Railtrack staff working a few extra hours could also get a platform in place in very quick time.
"Fans of Chelsea, West Ham and other London clubs could also travel from Waterloo to the ground, thus taking the pressure off Southampton Central, which is always busy at weekends.
"I've heard that Railtrack have struck a deal with South West Trains to enable the rail operators to house their new German electric train stock at a purpose-built maintenance depot in St Mary's. It would make sense to use the siding line for that alone.
"I've made South West Trains and Railtrack aware of the siding line option at a number of rail users' meetings in recent months. I don't know why they haven't taken it on board. Maybe they are about to surprise us all and pull some other idea out of the hat."
The call comes only days after a Southamp-ton city councillor called for South West Trains to re-open the old Northam station to ease the flow of fans at home games.
Cllr Paul Russell was speaking at a council meeting at which the club was given permission for a string of temporary car parks in the city to be used by some of the 9,000 cars they expect to descend on the city for match days.
He said he also thought reopening Northam would aid 6,000 fans who would normally come by train to Southampton Central Station before walking across the city to the new stadium.
But South West Trains dismissed the proposal, claiming the cost of reopening the station was unknown, and even then any more trains would overload an already busy rail line.