MP in talks today over feared threat to Pewsey rail services (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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MP in talks today over feared threat to Pewsey rail services
MP Claire Perry was meeting rail campaigners and commuters this morning to discuss what they fear is a threat to the Pewsey to London Paddington train service.
She was on the platform at 7.45am to talk to commuters as they headed off to the capital and went on to have a private meeting with members of Pewsey Train Watch at 9.30am.
At 5.30pm she is due to greet commuters at Great Bedwyn Station to gather their views.
A spokesman for Train Watch said: “Claire Perry needs to know this issue is of great concern to her constituents and that we expect her to do everything she can to protect our vital train services.
“This is our opportunity to let her, and in turn Simon Burns, the new Rail Minister, know how important this issue is to everyone living in and around Pewsey.”
The group is urging all passengers who want to see the present level of service maintained, or even improved, to write to the MP who has already had talks with the minister, as well as the Newbury and Westbury MPs, Richard Benyon and Dr Andrew Murrison, who are also concerned.
The campaigners say Pewsey station serves a wide catchment area taking in Marlborough, Devizes and beyond and caters for 200,000 passengers a year.
The Government has invited bids to run the next Great Western Region rail franchise.
However, the invitation to tender does not require the winning bidder to provide the existing level of service between Pewsey and London Paddington, Pewsey Train Watch said.
The tender document requires only two through trains per day in each direction compared with ten at present.
The remaining services are only required to be the equivalent of a shuttle service between Newbury and Pewsey and Westbury.
The group spokesman said: “This means, at best, an uncertain future for through trains from Pewsey to Paddington and leaves Pewsey’s passengers at the mercy of the winning bidder.
“Currently there is no indication that any of the operators bidding for the franchise intends to do more than the minimum required of them in the ITT (invitation to tender).
“Rail services provide a vital lifeline to rural communities and are fundamental to the economic well-being of Pewsey and its surrounding communities.
“Any downgrading of services would almost certainly have a profound negative affect on the local economy far beyond the obvious inconvenience to commuters.
“Even for those who don’t use the train this could have consequences, affecting the value of homes and the vibrancy of communities.”