Government vows to protect Weston trains

PUBLISHED: 07:03 12 September 2012

Archant

A VOW to protect direct train services between Weston and London has been issued by the Government.

Tenders are currently being invited for the Great Western mainline, which includes Weston train station – but fears had been raised that new operators would scrap direct services to the capital.

Passengers raised concerns that this would result in smaller, more crowded trains on commuter services, and increase travel times.

These fears were taken up by town MP John Penrose, who lobbied Whitehall to protect Weston’s rail services – and he has now told the Mercury that Rail Minister Simon Burns has agreed to do so.

This means the new franchise will guarantee a minimum of two direct trains each way between Weston and London every week day.

Mr Penrose said: “I’m delighted we’ve pulled this off. Ever since the new franchise bidding process started I’ve been pushing for these direct services to be saved.

“The bigger intercity trains are more reliable and less crowded at rush hour than the smaller local services, and it will mean an easier journey for people travelling to London or Heathrow too.

“Of course, this is just a minimum threshold – train companies will still be able to add more direct services if they want to, and I hope they will – but it shows that Ministers at the Department for Transport are willing to listen to local concerns, and to help if they can.”

Rail Minister Mr Burns said: “I know how important improved rail connections are between London and Weston.

“This is why I have instructed my officials to secure two direct daily services in each direction from the companies bidding for the Great Western franchise.

“This is in addition to the planned five direct services each way across summer weekends already set out in the tender documents.

“I look forward to seeing the proposals from each of the bidders during the coming months.”

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