Duncan has called on the Government to ensure better rail services for Wiltshire are prioritised in the specification for the new Great Western franchise, which is due to run from September 2015 to 2020.
In his response to the Department for Transport’s consultation, Duncan made the case for:
- A new service connecting Bristol to Oxford through a re-opened Corsham station.
- Retaining the new TransWilts service between Westbury and Swindon in full.
- Keeping the ticket office at Bradford on Avon station open and staffed.
- Avoiding very long gaps between trains at Chippenham station.
Duncan argued that, once electrification is complete, the new East-West Rail link between Bedford and Oxford could be extended to Bristol. In his submission, he said that “This would be very beneficial, with electric trains connecting Bath, Bristol and Swindon to Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford (and possibly Cambridge).”
Duncan highlighted Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s plans to develop a ‘Digital Community’ in Corsham, as detailed in its Strategic Economic Plan. He argued that an Oxford to Bristol service should stop at a re-opened Corsham station – something which he said “should be a priority post-electrification”. Duncan is working closely with Anne Lock of the Corsham Station Campaign.
In his response, Duncan also highlighted the fact that, at Chippenham station, there are currently times during the evening and on Sundays when there are gaps of 60 and even 90 minutes between high-speed intercity trains. He said that “Given the level of passenger growth on this line, those gaps need to be filled.”
Duncan called for the TransWilts service to at least be retained at its current level of eight services each way per day between Swindon and Westbury, calling at Chippenham, Melksham and Trowbridge. He pointed out that, since its launch in December, “the new service is proving popular and is well-utilised”, and is already beating the target for passenger numbers in the second full year of operation.
Duncan said “The new franchise specification should at least retain all current services through Melksham: eight each way per day in the time slots they currently are.” He is working closely with Graham Ellis of the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership.
Bradford on Avon
Duncan also pointed out the importance of a staffed ticket office at Bradford on Avon station, which provides an essential service to the community as well as to tourists visiting the historic town. Having previously gained assurances from Ministers that there are no plans to close the ticket office, he said that “operators considered for the new franchise should take into account the importance of a working, staffed ticket office in Bradford on Avon”.