Consultation on future of South West rail services launched
PUBLISHED: 14:00 29 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:14 29 November 2017
A consultation opened today (Wednesday) giving people the chance to have their say on how they would like train services to look in the 2020s.
GWR has also unveiled proposals to create a new West of England franchise to provide long-distance journeys between the region and London.
Improvements worth billions of pounds are being made to GWR trains, including increasing the number of train, providing more comfortable seats and making timetable changes for faster and more frequent trips.
The Government has extended GWR’s franchise until March 2020 while the improvements are made, with an option available to continue this until 2022.
Department for Transport (DfT) rail minister Paul Maynard said: “We are investing in the biggest modernisation of the railways for more than a century.
“Working with GWR, we are bringing the very latest in rail technology to some of the world’s oldest lines, putting passengers first so that they benefit froom a transformational programme of upgrades as quickly as possible.
“The benefits of these improvements will be felt right across the franchise area.
“But as the franchise continues to grow into the 2020s, we want to ensure every line, station and passenger remains central to the train operator’s strategy.”
The consultation has been welcomed by the Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF) which is campaigning for improvements to rail services across the south west.
PRTF chairman Councillor Geoff Brown said: “This provides an opportunity for us to consult with our stakeholders on the important role the next franchise will play in continuing to improve our railways.
“We will look closely at the potential benefits for passengers from having a smaller franchise area.
“However, if this means that the South West continues to lag behind the rest of the country in terms of rail provision whilst investments go elsewhere, simply because our franchise area has been reduced, then we will consult our business community, passenger groups and work with our local MPs to ensure the DfT reconsiders.”
The consultation closes on February 21.