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MPs not chuffed by lack of extra trains
5:00pm Monday 6th August 2012 in News
COTSWOLD Line passengers have been dealt a bitter blow – with hopes of an hourly service to London effectively scrapped until at least 2028.
The Government has started the hunt for a new provider to run the line, but has revealed it will not be asking for more frequent pick-ups.
At the moment commuters travelling from Pershore, Evesham, Honeybourne, Moreton or Kingham must use First Great Western’s services, which is one train every two hours at best.
The Department for Transport is calling for “broadly the same number of trains”
to be in operation, infuriating the county’s MPs. Pershore’s MP Harriett Baldwin said: “These minimum service levels are well below what I think a successful bidder should achieve and I hope the shortlisted firms will aim high.
“If there was a regular, reliable, hourly service from the area to London it would attract passengers that are currently being lost to Birmingham, Warwick, Newport and Swindon.”
The call for bidders to “aim high” was echoed by Evesham’s MP Peter Luff, who said: “I’m bitterly disappointed at this spectacular missed opportunity. We must have an hourly service, it is crucial to our prosperity.
“It’s highly unlikely the tender document will be changed. All we can do now is put pressure on any bidders to offer a better service and hope they win the contract.”
The Department for Transport’s tendering document states: “The new franchise will require broadly the same number of trains to run between end-to-end destinations as is the case today, while giving the operator greater flexibility over timetabling and station calls.”
It also insists the service offers “frequent journey opportunities”.
The department has shortlisted four bidders, one of which is First Great Western, and will be selecting the winner to run the line from July 2013 to 2028.
The rival contenders will have to submit bids by October, with an announcement due in March next year.
First Great Western has just rolled out a raft of bigger trains on the route.