Campaign to keep TransWilts rail service gathers pace
The campaign to preserve the TransWilts rail service is already picking up steam, as politicians across the county get on board to oppose cuts to the service.
Concerns were raised last week over the future of the service from Westbury to Swindon, which also passes through Chippenham.
A franchise document prepared by First Great Western suggested the new trains introduced in December would be allocated elsewhere after electrification work on the Great Western mainline is completed.
Chippenham MP Duncan Hames has vowed to defend the service, writing to railways minister Stephen Hammond calling for the current eight trains a day to remain.
He said: “Cutting back to just a two-hourly service would undermine the benefits to those who use the services and the local economy.
“I am determined to make sure that we keep the new regular services we’ve worked so hard to secure, and am joining with local rail users to campaign for that.”
The campaign has also been supported by Conservative parliamentary candidate Michelle Donelan, who has launched a petition to save the service.
She said: “Public transport is essential if we are to help support local businesses and bring more people into our area.
“I am meeting with Stephen Hammond to discuss the problem with him. The idea is to apply as much pressure as we can.”
Her online petition can be found at www.michelledonelan.co.uk
Chippenham mayor John Scragg, who also sits on the town’s Community Area Transport Group, said the council would also be taking action.
He said: “I will mention it to the planning committee. Although we can’t discuss it in much detail I will raise it there.
“I have ridden on it a couple of times since it started.
“Recently at 7pm there were a good 20-odd people joining the train at Westbury.
“One or two trains is only just enough as it is. I think it’s something we should write to the Department of Transport about, and whoever runs the franchise.”