Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
End of the line for Pewsey?
Passenger groups are putting pressure on MPs to fight proposals that could end through trains from Pewsey and Westbury to London.
The concern is over the proposed electrification of the Paddington-Bristol line through Swindon and Chippenham in 2015 that will then carry all the direct trains to London.
Passengers from Westbury and Pewsey, who use the Berks and Hants line, would have to use a slower diesel service and change at Reading.
There are fears that any reduction in the current direct service from Pewsey to Paddington could affect the future of the station and would have a major effect on house prices.
Scores of commuters get on the early morning trains to the city at 6.24am, 7.19am and 8.09am.
On the platform at Pewsey on Tuesday commuters said they would fight to retain the through service.
Tim Maltin from Wilsford, who runs a PR company in Piccadilly, and pays more than £6,000 a year for his season ticket, said: “This would be a disaster for me. It would make my five-hour daily commute into a six- hour commute and I think a lot of people who currently get the train at Pewsey will consider driving to Swindon or Andover instead.”
Mother-of-two Kate Weir from Wilcot, who travels to London three days a week, said: “I am appalled by this proposal which makes a mockery of the government policy of environmentally friendly commuting and it must be remembered that people working in London bring a lot of revenue back to this area.”
One traveller said: “If we have to change at Reading we will not be able to get seats.”
Another passenger called out: “This will kill the trains here and could kill the station.”
Some passengers waiting for trains to London this week said they would drive either to Andover to get a Southern Trains direct service while others from the Devizes area said they would consider driving to Chippenham or Swindon to use the proposed direct electrified trains.
Devizes MP Claire Perry said she had joined forces with West Wiltshire MP Andrew Murrison and Newbury MP Richard Benyon in the hopes of persuading the government to tell train operators that they had to keep the straight-through service.
Kate Freeman, who chairs the transport group of Devizes Community Area Partnership, has written to Mrs Perry saying: “We had hoped for a safeguarding of the through services along the Berks and Hants line.
“Instead, by concentrating solely on electrification and service improvements along the Bristol-Reading/Heathrow-Paddington corridors the services between Reading and Taunton (the Pewsey/ Westbury line) have been squeezed out of any chance of improvements and the loss of all possibility of through trains.”