Wiltshire Publications

Petition to keep high speed London rail services through Westbury

WESTBURY residents are being urged to sign a petition to ‘Save Westbury Trains’, following fears over the future of high speed rail services from Westbury to London.
Westbury Train Watch has been set up after town councillors David Jenkins and Gordon King raised their concerns, saying that the Department of Transport’s Great Western franchise replacement consultation (which is now closed) does not specifically require the continuation of high speed through rail services between Westbury and London.
Westbury Train Watch says it wants to “retain our through services between Westbury and London Paddington, which are vital for commuters, businesses, residents, and the economy of our town and surroundings.”
The group says that July’s invitation to tender does not mention through ‘fast’ or ‘semi-fast’ services between Westbury and Paddington.
However, Richard Gamble, Wiltshire Council portfolio holder for public transport, described the potential changes as “possibilities rather than proposals” when he addressed the meeting of Westbury Area Board last week. He told the meeting that, with 100 trains a day stopping at Westbury, it was a nodal point in the network.
He also said that a third to a half of passengers at Westbury were passengers changing trains, rather than starting or concluding their journeys. Given that the usage of Westbury Station is estimated by ticket sales at the station, cllr Gamble says there is a danger the station’s importance can be underestimated.
He said, “The franchise process is at a halt, which gives us a little more time. We’ve seen the storm clouds looming, they’ve not hit us yet. While the number of trains are specified, there’s no guarantee they’ll stop at Westbury.”
Local people are now being urged to sign the petition to save Westbury’s train services to London. Cllr David Jenkins said, “We do want as many people as can to go and sign this petition. They don’t have to be rail users, it can be family, friends, or anyone! Westbury hasn’t got much left – the car parks have been affected, the bypass we don’t know, we really do need to keep our fast train service. It would be great to get people signing this and realising how important it is for the local area and businesses.”
Ian Cunningham, another member of the group, said, “The recent debacle of the west coast has put all franchises on hold so we have a chance to make a noise. The new train minister (Simon Burns) put through services to Weston-super-Mare back into the franchise terms within seven days of taking his new post – thanks to local pressure. We hope to do the same – get Westbury back as a requirement for Paddington through services.”
You can sign the petition online at www.westburytrainwatch.org.uk