|Asking for the political and part views
With local elections due to take place early next month, we're in a period of perdour where officials will say very little / cannot make comment on issues or discuss them in the way they normally might. But it's also an opportunity to ask the politicians what their personal and party approach is to the various issues.
I have written to a senior local repesentative of each of the major parties, asking them to give me their view, and their official party view, on support (or otherwise) for the Swindon to Westbury train service. The Conservative and Labour politicians, of course, also have the opportunity to answer for the local transport authority (Wiltshire CC, Conservative) and the Department for Transport (Labour) as both have given several responses of late which have appeared to be self-contradicting.
Responses to be in by next Tuesday, to be published on "Save the Train" and perhaps elsewhere - we have the tools to hand to reach quite a number of concerned local voters to ensure they know of any party differences that show up.
------------- "Base" letter sent ...
I am writing to invite you to put the local [name of party] position forward with regard to their future ongoing support of the train service from Swindon and Chippenham through West Wiltshire (Melksham, Trowbridge, Westbury, Warminster) and on to Salisbury and Frome.
With local elections coming up early in May, and with the issue of this service being high on the political agenda, this provides you with the ideal opportunity to publicise how your party, support the return and retention of an appropriate service on this line.
The "Save the Train" web site will be featuring replies (and commenting on lack of replies) to this email, and we'll also be wring press releases and getting in touch with our database of interested users prior to local polling day so that they're aware of any differences in position. We may also hand out copies of the responses received to local public transport users at the end of this month.
Please feel free to forward a copy of this email to others who might also wish to respond.
If you could let me have any reply by Tuesday, 17th April that would be great, thank you.
The train service linking the five largest towns in Wiltshire, together with Frome in Somerset (close by and substantial) was recently slashed to just 2 round trips a day (60% service cut). The new timings do not meet the user's requirements and between 90% and 95% of the traffic (which had been growing between 8% and 35% per annum) has been lost. Some travellers are making longer journeys via Bath, others are using the bus and some have even given up their jobs, but most of them are now driving along the already-crowded A350 road.
The Department for Transport (who specify the franchise / service level), County and Unitary Councils - Wiltshire, Somerset and Swindon (who are the local transport authority), and First Great Western (who operate the services) are all very much aware of the how inappropriate the current service is, and that they need to take some "ownership" in order to return to an appropriate service as called for in my recent petition to the Prime Minister which brought in over 1700 signatures.
I understand that discussions between the parties are currently underway, with one of the options being investigated being "community rail" status for the service. This would allow a more frequent and better timed service to be provided with all parties providing support, and with community groups such as "Save the Train", Melksham Rail Development Group, District and Town councils, and users to be much more involved with the service.
Written 2007-04-12 08:34:29
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