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Petition to keep high speed London rail services

FROME rail users are being urged to sign a petition to ensure the future of high speed rail services between Westbury and London, which are utilised by many Frome commuters.

In addition, a local group warns that the Department of Transport’s Great Western franchise replacement consultation (now closed) could have implications for the direct Frome to London service from 2015.

Westbury Train Watch has set up a petition, following fears that the franchise replacement consultation (now closed) does not specifically require the continuation of high speed through rail services between Westbury and London.

Westbury Train Watch was set up by residents David Jenkins and Gordon King, who say that this 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.

They 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.

With these services used by Frome commuters, Westbury Train Watch recently held an ‘action day’ at Frome Railway Station. The group aimed to raise awareness and encourage rail users to sign their petition, which already has around 700 signatures.

There is currently one early morning direct service from Frome to London, and one return journey in the evening. There are then other services which run direct from Westbury to London Paddington.

Gordon King of the group said, “Frome users travel to Westbury and change trains at Westbury, or commute to Westbury by road. Our online petition has a large number of people from Frome who are very concerned.

“If the through service from Westbury to London was reduced in any way, or reduced in the quality of the service, it could seriously affect the likelihood of the traveller making the journey. It’s very important that people in Frome understand Westbury services are as much their services as our services.

“If the service is changed from Westbury to Paddington, that could have a domino effect onto other services.”

You can sign the petition online at www.westburytrainwatch.org.uk

Above: Gordon King, David Jenkins, David Walden (West Wilts Rail Users Group) and Ian Cunningham.