I know how important our local rail services are to people and businesses across the Constituency and I have worked as your MP since my election in 2010 to ensure that our train services are protected at Pewsey and Bedwyn in the light of concerns that electrification only as far as Newbury might mean that through services to and from London would cease.
I was delighted therefore when in 2015 the Government announced that Pewsey would continue to be served by long-distance services to and from the South West, with new Hitachi bi-modal trains which have now replaced the 40-year-old High-Speed Trains, offering many more seats and a much better service. As your MP I also secured the investment needed to replace the old footbridge at Pewsey Station with a brand new bridge which it was a pleasure to formally open in 2016, together with stationmaster Trevor Beaven MBE.
The final part of the Pewsey and Bedwyn rail challenge was secured in 2017 when Great Western Railway announced that a package of investment was agreed with the Department for Transport that will also see new Inter City Express Trains on the Bedwyn – Paddington stopping service, and thus confirmed the continuation of direct services for Bedwyn travellers. Work was required at the turnaround siding in Great Bedwyn to accommodate the longer 5 carriage trains, and it was a pleasure to visit the site finished site in late August 2018 along with representatives for the Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group.
Then, in May 2019, together with children from Great Bedwyn School and other local stakeholders, I celebrated the launch of the new bi-modal trains on the Bedwyn-London direct route. The brand new, environmentally-friendly trains which run on electric from Newbury to Paddington, are longer and provide many more seats and tables, as well as improved legroom and Wi-Fi. And, most importantly enable the continuation of direct services from Paddington given that there were real concerns that the electrification of the line to Newbury, may have resulted in Bedwyn, Hungerford and Kintbury stations being served by a diesel shuttle to Newbury only.
This is what real politics is all about – working with local people to champion local issues. I am so pleased to see the new trains on the Bedwyn service as we were all so concerned that the electrification programme may have resulted in the loss of the direct train services on which so many local people and businesses rely. Huge thanks to everyone, and especially the Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group who have worked so hard to demonstrate just how vital our Bedwyn to Paddington direct services are to the local economy.
I am delighted that our vital local train services are now secure and that we can look forward to further local improvements - including the enhancements to pedestrian access at Pewsey where I have supported the work of Pewsey Parish Council to make improvements to the existing footpath directly from the Station Car Park to the Wilcot Road and I was delighted that Pewsey’s application to the GWR Customer and Communities Improvement Fund was been successful and that the Parish Council has been awarded £3,000 to make improvements to the signage and lighting to enable pedestrians to safely access the station.
Nationally, as you may know the Government has committed £48bn to improve the UK rail network and hugely important schemes such as Crossrail, which will provide more service options for us from Reading are well underway and from when complete, two Elizabeth line trains an hour (four an hour at peak times) will allow passengers to travel right through central London without having to change trains.
Looking forward, I am keen to see the planned timetable improvements scheduled for December 2019, when a regular two hourly service is planned for Pewsey. And, I have been closely following the work of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Economic Partnership on Rail Strategy which makes a number of recommendations including a new Devizes Parkway station and the extension of the Bedwyn services to Westbury providing Westbury and Pewsey with a consistent hourly service and enabling improved journey connectivity from stations in the Constituency to the West, and Bath & Bristol. Whilst at this stage the SWLEP report is in draft form, I will be making a very strong case to Ministers for further rail improvements for our area. https://swlep.co.uk/about/our-strategies
Updated June 2019