Wiltshire Publications

MP calls to protect Westbury’s rail services

WESTBURY’s MP, Andrew Murrison, has added his voice to a campaign calling to retain high speed rail services to London from Westbury. 

He has already obtained an undertaking from the Secretary of State for Transport to review the local services and to look at the costs of electrification to Westbury.

The MP for South West Wiltshire joined members of Westbury Train Watch at Westbury Station, to help promote the train services and underline their importance to the local community.

Sitting at the intersection between two mainlines, Westbury is very much a hub for local train users and a major interchange for people travelling around the region. Growth in rail usage on both lines has been significant over recent years.

However, Westbury Train Watch has raised concerns 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.

With over 800 signatures so far, the group continues to encourage local residents to sign their petition to ‘Save Westbury Trains’. They have also extended their campaign to neighbouring towns, whose residents travel to Westbury to join the current Westbury to London service.

Westbury Train Watch was set up by Westbury residents David Jenkins and Gordon King, who say that the government’s plans would effectively downgrade the Great Western mainline east of Newbury (the Berks and Hants line) from a high speed route to a semi-fast route, increasing journey times to and from London.

The residents believe that the government’s plan could see diesel trains running as far as Newbury where passengers will change to new high speed electric trains [post electrification] for the onward journey into London.  Intercity high speed rail services between Westbury and Newbury could be replaced by semi-fast local services like those that currently operate out of Reading via Newbury to Great Bedwyn.  The initial plan [pre-electrification] might be to extend this service to Westbury and possibly Taunton, thereby increasing journey times, in inferior trains with a lower standard of coach and livery.

Dr Murrison has voiced concern to his colleagues at the Department for Transport recently, saying that the area risks becoming the “poor country cousin of the UK rail network”.

The MP said, “Fast, connected services are important from Westbury whether or not you use the train, as they impact on local economic vibrancy.”

You can sign Westbury Train Watch’s petition at www.westburytrainwatch. org.uk