GREAT Bedwyn commuters will still be able to travel directly to London after Great Western Railway announced it will replace outdated trains with new hybrid ones by the end of 2018. 

GWR announced that they have struck a deal with the Department for Transport (DFT) that will see new new hybrid trains, capable of running on diesel and electric power replacing the diesel turbo fleet serving Bedwyn travellers.

This means that when track electrification is extended to Newbury, hundreds of Bedwyn passengers will not be forced to change trains, which was the original plan when the DFT announced this back in 2009, and direct services to and from London can be maintained.

MP Claire Perry said: "This is such brilliant news for our local train services. I have been working for the last five years to make sure electrification does not disrupt our journeys.

"I made the case first for electrification to be extended to Bedwyn, and then for the DFT to change the terms of the GWR franchise so that the company could buy new hybrid trains to serve this line.

"It is such good news that the work has paid off and we can look forward to brand new hybrid trains offering direct journeys to London when electrification to Newbury happens.

"We just need to ensure that the necessary local works to extend the siding at Bedwyn take place and I am working with the Great Bedwyn Parish Council and the Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group to ensure that this happens.

"After last year’s announcement of new trains for Pewsey and the investment in the new Pewsey footbridge, it is clear that our vital local train services are secure and we can look forward to further improvements.”

A survey conducted by the Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group in 2012 found that 94 per cent of people travel beyond Newbury from Bedwyn station, which is used by more than 120,000 passengers a year.

So when group member Steve Smith heard about this announcement, he was thrilled.

"I am absolutely delighted by this. This has been a long fought battle since 2009 where we have campaigned and convince people to let this happen," he said.

"Claire Perry has done a fantastic job and has delivered on her promise. We were lone voices in the wilderness until she came along.

"This will benefit hundreds of people in the area every day. Having to go to Newbury to get to Reading or London is a real pain. It is an extra 30 minutes added to your journey.

"The direct London trains they use at the moment are from 1992 and some other trains are from 1976, so it is great that these new ones are coming to Bedwyn soon."

GWR Regional Development Manager Tom Pierpoint said: “We at GWR are only too aware of the value that rail plays in the local and national economy.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to be able to run direct services between Frome and London, and Bedwyn and London, with bigger, better trains providing more seats – helping the community to thrive both now and into the future.”

Cllr Horace Prickett, Passenger Transport Portfolio Holder, added: “Wiltshire Council is extremely pleased with this news and I will be giving all possible support to the application in due course. 

"This ensures that the Bedwyn to London service will continue and thus preserve the vital link to the capital which the east of the county currently enjoys. Wiltshire also sees this as a first step in upgrading the services west of Bedwyn to Westbury via Pewsey.”