MP welcomes rail line improvement analysis
MP for Devizes, Claire Perry, welcomed the news that electrification of the rail line west of Newbury would be investigated.
Mrs Perry teamed up with neighbouring MPs, Andrew Murrison and Richard Benyon to meet the Minister for Rail, Simon Burns, to express constituents’ concerns over the potential loss of services at Pewsey and Great Bedwyn stations.
The Great Western Trains franchise is due for renewal next year and it’s understood four train companies have asked for Invitation to Tender documents but there is concern the document stipulates a minimum of just two through trains to London every day from Pewsey compared with ten at present.
Campaigners fear that the London-Newbury-Westbury line will suffer because of the proposed electrification of the Paddington-Swansea line that goes through Swindon and Chippenham.
However on Tuesday,the three MPs were able to persuade the trains minister to look into whether the London-Westbury line could be electrified as well.
The three MPs queried why electrification of the Paddington-Westbury line was stopping at Newbury and emphasised the importance of good through train links to the local economy.
Mrs Perry presented the minister with a dossier of evidence supporting the current services from concerned residents using services from Pewsey and Great Bedwyn stations.
During the meeting the Mr Burns told the MPs that while the current franchise process is on hold until at least the end of the year, he would instruct the Department of Transport to formally investigate the option of extending rail electrification from Newbury to Westbury.
Mrs Perry said: “We had great news today, when the rail minister said he would initiate an investigation of the costs and benefits of electrification of rail lines to Westbury.
“This renewed focus on our vital rail links should help to emphasise the importance of the local services when the franchise bidding process is re-started and if we can get electrification then connectivity and journey times will be improved.”
Karl Lloyd, spokesman for the new campaign group Pewsey Train Watch, said that an online petition objecting to any attempt to reduce the number of through trains from Pewsey to London had gathered more than 2,240 signatures.