Commuters fighting to keep through trains after electrification set for meeting (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Commuters fighting to keep through trains after electrification set for meeting
12:08pm Thursday 4th October 2012 in News
Commuters fighting to ensure the future of through trains from Pewsey and Westbury to London are meeting in the hope of averting any cuts.
People who use the through trains from Pewsey to Paddington fear the service could suffer when the other line from Paddington-Swindon-Cardiff is electrified by 2015.
The transport group of the Devizes Community Area Partnership fears through trains from Westbury and Pewsey to Paddington could end and that passengers will have to use slower trains to get to Reading where they would have to change.
Claire Perry, MP for Devizes, believes the fears have come about for two reasons: the proposed electrification of the line through the north of Wiltshire; and the renewal of the Great Western Trains franchise which operates on both the Paddington-Swansea line and the Berks and Hants line, which has stations at Pewsey and Westbury.
A new franchise was due to be awarded next June with four bidders. However, the franchise process has been put on hold in light of the controversy over the West Coast Main Line bid. The award of this franchise to FirstGroup has been scrapped over mistakes made by Department for Transport staff.
Mrs Perry is working with Newbury and Westbury MPs Richard Benyon and Andrew Murrison. She told the Gazette the three MPs wanted an even better service and were planning to ask why the Berks and Hants line through mid-Wiltshire should not also be electrified, guaranteeing straight-through and even faster trains from Pewsey and Westbury to Paddington.
“The three of us are planning to meet the new Minister for Transport Simon Burns to see if it might be viable to electrify the line from Newbury to Westbury,” she said.
The meeting in Pewsey has been called by commuters who plan to lobby the four companies interested in the franchise and who have until October 25 to submit bids.
Lesia Weremijenko, who commutes from Pewsey to work in London, said: “At present we can only speculate what level of service from Pewsey each of the bidders will offer and the terms of the franchise offer little certainty with regards to services.
“We must act now to ensure we are part of the process and this meeting will be our first step.”
The meeting is tonight in the Methodist Church in Pewsey, at 7.30pm for 8pm.