Wiltshire Publications

Westbury seaside train is pulled despite popularity

WESTBURY’S Sunday rail service to Weymouth, which was successfully extended last summer to carry even more passengers to the coast, will not be extended again this summer.
First Great Western say this is due to a lack of funding, coupled with extra demand needed for Olympic events. Westbury’s normal Sunday rail service to Weymouth will be resumed this year.

Last year, over 1,000 passengers used the extended service provided by the TransWilts rail group and First Great Western, collecting extra passengers from Swindon, Melksham, Chippenham and Trowbridge railway stations, though Westbury to Weymouth.

A spokesperson for First Great Western said, “First Great Western did offer an additional Sunday morning service from Westbury to Swindon, through Melksham, during the high summer last year, funded by Wiltshire Council on a trial basis. However that funding has not been made available this year. While First Great Western would like to run additional services for passengers, there are some lines where it is not commercially viable to do so without local support.

“Furthermore, and more importantly, in this year’s timetabling provision of that service partly coincides with the Olympic sailing events at Weymouth and the need to provide additional capacity for that route.

Graham Ellis, of the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership said, “Last year, the extra service was such a huge success that First had to lengthen trains more than they had planned. It turned out to need a longer train to cope with the demand that lasted all summer. To some extent, the service was a victim of its own success, with First having to provide far more capacity than they had originally intended, and still the trains were full and standing. Further resources would have been needed this year, and on a line which currently requires a subsidy to run.

“Extra trains that are running on Sundays from Cardiff to Weymouth, it appears, will be using those carriages which could have provided a Swindon service.” “Looking ahead, the service on this line and all lines in the area is being refranchised, and we have submitted a business case for more trains.

” The spokesperson for First Great Western added, “The Department for Transport (DfT) will specify future services for the new Great Western franchise from 2013 and beyond. We know that many groups and individuals responded to the DfT’s consultation for the new franchise and made the case for additional Westbury to Swindon services. “We have supported the TransWilts proposal to the DfT and we look forward to hearing the outcome when the Invitation to Tender is issued.”