Keep current trains and ticket office, says Wiltshire MP

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Duncan Hames at the launch of the TransWilts line, with local campaigner Graham Ellis Duncan Hames at the launch of the TransWilts line, with local campaigner Graham Ellis

Chippenham MP Duncan Hames has restated his support for the TransWilts rail line, as the newly-expanded service faces potential service cuts.

The line currently provides eight trains a day in both directions from Swindon to Westbury, stopping at Dilton Marsh, Trowbridge, Melksham and Chippenham.

Since being expanded in December the service has seen a major increase in passenger numbers, but a consultation into the consequences of electrifying the Great Western Line from London to Bath has suggested the service could now lose two trains a day.

Mr Hames, who campaigned for the increase to the TransWilts line, has written to Department for Transport outlying his concerns over the proposed cuts.

In it he said: “Six months on, the new service is proving popular and is well-utilised by my constituents.

“The average number of journeys per day on the section of the line between Chippenham and Trowbridge has risen from around 55 prior to the improvements to around 385 now. That’s already well above the target of passenger journeys per train that had been set for the second full year of operation.

“I and a number of my constituents are therefore keen to see this service maintained at least at its current level.

“The new contract that began in December added to the existing minimum specification in the current franchise.

“It is reassuring that the Minister has confirmed that the new franchise will include that contract, but it should still be in addition to that pre-existing minimum specification.”

Mr Hames also called for the retention of a manned ticket office at Bradford on Avon station, following concerns it could be closed.

He said: “Local residents have pointed out that a staffed ticket office at the station provides an essential service to the community as well as to tourists visiting the historic town.

“I received assurances from the ministers that there are no plans to close the ticket office at Bradford on Avon station, and the new franchise specification should reflect that.”

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