Train changes at Pewsey or Bedwyn are mad, says MP
MP Claire Perry has described as madness proposals to stop trains running directly between both Bedwyn and Pewsey and London.
She has written to Stephen Hammond, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, of her concerns at suggestions in a consultation document that passengers’ needs might be best served if they changed at Newbury or Reading.
She wrote: “Most of my constituents access services at Bedwyn or Pewsey stations, with the majority of commuters travelling to London Paddington. It is vital the service frequency, timing and number of through services are at least as good as now.
“My constituents and I are therefore horrified by the options in the consultation.”
Early on Friday she visited Pewsey Station to find out the views of commuters and she plans to visit Bedwyn soon.
She said: “The most important thing for commuters is that the direct service remains. They do not want to have to change at Newbury or Reading. It makes absolutely no sense.”
The suggestion is in a Department of Transport consultation document on the future of the Great Western franchise. It is put forward as it is likely that electrification of the line from Paddington will extend only as far as Newbury.
The consultation period ended on Thursday but decisions are likely to take months.
Mrs Perry said there was no excuse for making passengers change trains as it was possible for bi-mode trains that switch between electricity and diesel to operate on the route.
She said: “Bedwyn is the end of the line and where the trains turn round. It is only about another 15 miles of track so it would make sense for it to go that far. But even if we didn’t get electrification there is no reason to make people get off at Newbury, carry all of their stuff to another train and have to wait around.”
Steve Smith, chairman of the Bedwyn Passenger Group, said discontinuation of the direct service was unacceptable.
He said: “If all that is offered is a shuttle service, then commuters are going to face problems. A connecting service from Reading would mean that commuters from Bedwyn are not going to be able to get a seat because they are joining an already busy train from Newbury.
“A suitable alternative to electrification would be an hourly diesel service from Westbury to Paddington to replace the Paddington to Bedwyn service.”
Jerry Kunkler, representing Pewsey on Wiltshire Council, said he was confident a direct service would remain in Pewsey. “It seems very unlikely to me that the express trains from Cornwall are going to want to stop and change from diesel to electric so the bi-mode ones will be used and will continue to stop in Pewsey.”