Pressure on Transport Secretary over rail links

PUBLISHED: 12:29 17 January 2012 | UPDATED: 15:15 17 January 2012

The Great Western franchise is up for renewal in 2013

The Great Western franchise is up for renewal in 2013

Archant

CALLS for a better rail network in the South West have been backed by a passenger watchdog after it outlined to the Transport Secretary what is needed.

Passenger Focus, the official body working on behalf of rail users, has written to Justine Greening to ensure the Great Western train line is maintained properly after the franchise comes up for renewal next year.

Its views echo those made by Weston MP John Penrose who also wrote to Ms Greening in November.

He said: “I hadn’t co-ordinated my campaign for a better rail service with Passenger Focus, but it looks as though we’re thinking along the same lines.

“I’m very pleased that the research behind their submission confirms what I’ve been saying for years – that we need a more reliable service, more peak hour trains and more carriages to relieve overcrowding.

“Now we’re all saying the same thing, so the Department of Transport will get a single, crystal-clear message.

“The next step is to make sure as many of these changes as possible are included in the contracts for the new franchise, so the bidders all know they’ve got to provide them.

“That way it won’t matter which company gets the job, local commuters will benefit no matter what.

“Having a much longer franchise (15 years) will give the winning bidders an incentive to make investment plans for the long term and means we’re entitled to demand more from them.”

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