|Background and opinion
The Swindon to Westbury, Salisbury and Southampton line will be operated by First Group from 1st April, taking over from National Express (Wessex Trains).The Department for Transport has told First to run just two trains a day and that one is a commuter train up to Swindon in the morning rush hour and back in the evening rush hour. After that, it's up to First. So we need to tell First about the need for any tuning, and the DfT about service level.
The service proposed is operationally covenient for First as it runs the train early in the morning commute and late in the evening commute, leaving the same train they use for the peak train on the Stroud Valley line. It provides, for the first time, a practical commuter service from Melksham to London. It is less good for many Swindon commuters who will arrive there much earlier than they wish, and have to wait around until much later to return. For businesses like mine which has relied on customers arriving in Melksham (from far afield) by train at 9 in the morning and leaving at 5 in the evening, it is a disaster.
I've spent some time studying the service and options, and I believe that the service offered should be a train every 2 hours. That's just a single train running between Swindon and Westbury. The financial model is better than the proposed service which would lose a great deal of traffic. Up to this point there have been no studies published and the decision is based on old figures and minimal feedback from a near-secret consultation process.
LINK to new times
Written 2006-02-17 05:15:12
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