|RailFuture meeting - some gems
Glenda Lamont, Customer Services Director of First Great Western, told us that the following matters are still under discussion / looking for resolution between First and the Department for Transport:
1. The early morning service to Gatwick
3. Stengthening the Cardiff to Porsmouth trains
She believes that they are "close to resolving" issue 3 by moving some stock around. Significantly, no mention of the Swindon to Southampton service.
A rumour I had heard before - but repeated as part of a keynote speech by a presenter who's views and information I respect:
The Deparement for Transport hadn't budgeted for anything like the 1.3 billion that First Group bid for the franchise - it's some 300 million more that they thought they would get. The Treasury is allowing the Department to keep the money which will be used to pay for overspends on road building programs.
In other words, a decent train service between Swindon and Westbury, which would cost 10 million pounds to run for 10 years, and 30 other such services, have been sacrifised by First in their keenness to win the bid, and the extra money that First will have to charge customers to make its payments to the government will in part go to the funding of overbudget / mismanaged road building programs.
I was saddened to hear that one of our elected bodies here in Melksham responded to the South West trains franchise suggesting that a saving in rolling stock could be made by cutting out the Bristol, Plymouth and Torbay services - cutting back the service from Waterloo to Salisbury and Exeter.
I am very much in favour of everyone expressing their views, but this council view does not represent my view nor, as far as I can gauge, the view of other local electors around here. Frankly, most Melksham electors have little interest in (or knowledge of) public transport in Devon.
The letter in question is, I understand, being taken as an example of how official bodies in the area support the pruning of services, and has made the Minister's "red box" so that he's espcially aware of such views. And the people at RailFuture who campaign tirelessly for an appropriate level of service are not best pleased, as you might imagine.
There's a further irony. The southern end of the Southampton to Swindon service has been given a one year reprive under First, and will then form a part of the South West trains franchise. By suggesting that the South West Franchise is trimmed back to Salisbury / Exeter, the council that wrote is advocating the withdrawal of the extra trains that could also have been used to extend the Southampton to Westbury service of the next year on through to Melksham, Chippenham and Swindon.
I'm going to post each of these three notes in a separate thread in the forum so that you can answer / discuss / respond if you wish. I have NOT named the local council involved in the third item, as I want to find out a bit more before shooting my mouth off. But the fury of other campaigners is real enough, and the words that silly *%$@* from Melksham were ringing in my ears yesterday!
Written 2006-05-07 08:43:58
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