ALL "slam door" carriages are to be replaced by South West Trains, which operates in the Star area, within the next two years.

Owners Stagecoach started replacing the out-of-date rolling stock, condemned as dangerous by passenger groups, some time ago.

Now the company has given a commitment to complete the £1-billion modernisation programme by the end of 2004.

The deadline forms part of the deal which earned Stagecoach a five-year extension to its South West Trains franchise. A SWT spokesman said: "We are happy to give this commitment because we recognise that 'slam door' carriages are dangerous.

"There is always the possibility that someone may open a door in mid-journey with what could be tragic consequences."

The franchise deal also includes a blueprint to guarantee passengers better levels of punctuality and reliability.

Under the new set-up, Stagecoach will no longer be responsible for funding and delivering infrastructure projects. This work is being taken over by the Strategic Rail Authority - a move welcomed by Stagecoach chief executive Brian Souter. South West Trains operates the Alton to Waterloo line, via Aldershot and Ash Vale, and the Ash Vale to Ascot line which runs through Camberley and Frimley, as well as the Fleet/Farnborough Waterloo service.