Wiltshire Publications

Rail campaign for electrification in Westbury

RAILcampaigners are keeping up the pressure on the Department of Transport to electrify railway lines to Westbury, with MPAndrew Murrison arguing that ‘now is the time to lobby hard.’

The Department of Transport plans to electrify the line from London to Newbury, while local  campaigners are pushing for electrification all the way to Westbury. They hope this would encourage the continuation of high speed services to London.

However, they also want to see more ambitious plans of electrification on surrounding lines, such as routes to Bath and Thingley Junction at Chippenham, providing a network of better trains and better connections to surrounding towns.

Electric trains have 20% more seats compared to diesel trains, and are better for the environment. They are also cheaper to operate and shorten journey times.

Horace Prickett, of the West Wilts Rail Users Group said, “We’re keeping up the pressure. We want to tie everyone together: united we stand, divided we fall.

“The plan we’ve put forward is to electrify not just to Westbury, but also to Thingley Junction and Bath. If they electrify only to Bath or only to Westbury, there’s a link they can’t use. We don’t want isolated fingers, we want a joined web.”

Westbury is already a significant nodal point on the rail network, where several lines connect, making it an important commuter hub. Campaigners hope that electrification of the line will help maintain this position.

Local MP Andrew Murrison said, “We need electrification of the mainline to Westbury and now is the time to lobby hard for it. With high speed rail in the offing, the south-west is in danger of being left behind. A fast, frequent and reliable service to London and good connections from Westbury to Bath and Bristol will do a great deal for the economy of our neck of the woods. Well done West Wiltshire Rail Users Group and Wiltshire Council for championing the cause. I would be very pleased to hear from residents and businesses in the area who have a view on this.”