Projections from Wiltshire Council that the new TransWilts service will be used by 45,000 users in its first year are expected to be smashed, with passenger numbers suggesting the figure will be upwards of 60,000.
The news comes after Minister of State for Transport Baroness Susan Kramer attended the official launch of the service last Friday, praising the work of everyone who helped get it up and running.
Baroness Kramer was joined by Chippenham MP Duncan Hames, Wiltshire councillors Richard Gamble and John Thomson, plus members from the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership on the 11.47am train from Westbury to Chippenham.
The improved rail service between Westbury and Swindon, which includes extra trains running through Trowbridge, Melksham and Chippenham, launched in December last year.
Baroness Kramer said: “Duncan Hames said I had to come and see this project as it’s exemplary of a community coming together at every level.
“The investment going into the railways is absolutely crucial for the economic future that we want and the benefits come from many directions. “We are celebrating the work of many people and organisations and I would like to thank Wiltshire Council, First Great Western, Duncan Hames and the community rail partnership.”
First Great Western’s draft timetable now has an additional six trains a day in each direction from Monday to Saturday, meaning there will be one train about every two hours, including early morning and evening services in both directions.
There are an additional four trains on Sundays throughout the year, with at least one seasonal service connecting with the existing Westbury to Weymouth service in each direction.
Graham Ellis, from the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership, said: “It’s going better than we could have hoped and everybody I speak to is very positive about it.
“The service is a huge benefit for Wiltshire people, who are now able to job hunt in Swindon, when previously there were jobs they couldn’t apply for because they couldn’t get to them.”
The subsidised TransWilts service forms part of Wiltshire Council’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund project, with funding coming after the council successfully bid for a Department for Transport grant of £4.25m, which will support the improved service for three years.