Passengers are urged to write to keep TransWilts rail link open
5:30am Thursday 5th June 2014 in By Craig Jones, Reporter
RAIL users are being urged to get behind a line connecting Swindon and West Wiltshire in response to a Government consultation which suggests the service might be reduced.
The TransWilts line, which links Swindon, Chippenham, Melksham and Westbury, is among a number of topics debated in the Department for Transport (DfT) specification for the Great Western franchise.
It is overseen by First Great Western with the new franchise running between 2015 and 2020.
In December, extra services were introduced along the TransWilts line with the DfT document suggesting these could be scaled back in the future despite a substantial growth in train users since then.
The improved service saw twice daily return services increase to eight, Monday to Saturday, between Swindon and Westbury.
There is also a Sunday service on which Swindon passengers can travel to Weymouth, with a change at Westbury.
Graham Ellis, TransWilts Community Rail Partnership press and publicity officer, who campaigned for improved services, said: “They’re working out who will run the line from the end of next year and how many trains they will need.
“The wording in the document is a little ambiguous but my feeling is we need users to write and say how essential this service is.
“It is a huge benefit to the people coming in and out of the town for work and I know many Swindon Town fans have been using it to get to the matches.”
The public consultation finishes at 9.30am on June 26.
Since the improved services were introduced, the partnership has surveyed passenger numbers and on an average weekday found that usage has increased from 50 people to 400.
Graham said: “It has been a huge success and it would be a great shame to lose something that we have fought hard for. I’d urge as many people as possible to answer the consultation and support our service.”
Swindon’s MPs have backed the service.
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said: “I share the concerns about the TransWilts line and this is an opportunity for us to raise the issue through the consultation and say we are happy with this service.”
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said: “I’m very happy to support the work being done by the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership as we are always looking to maintain and improve rail services for the people of Swindon.”