Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Train company agrees to lengthen shuttles

A TRAIN company has agreed to increase the size of new shuttles on the Henley branch line following pressure from passenger groups.

The Henley Standard reported last week that two-car trains would be introduced on the line in December next year, replacing the through-trains to London Paddington which have up to five cars.

This would every train would end at Twyford with connections to London in new eight-car electric trains on the main line. Passenger groups warned that this would lead to overcrowding on trains and passengers missing connections at Twyford.

Now Great Western Railway says it will introduce three-car “turbo” trains between Henley and Twyford for all services following protests by the Henley Branch User Group and Henley Trains.

HBUG chairwoman Patricia Mulcahy said she attended a meeting with GWR managing director Mark Hopwood at Paddington last week where she was told that two-car trains would be used on the line.

“We met that with incredulity and said it would never work,” she said. “We kept up the pressure and at the end of last week we heard it’s now going to be a three-car train, which is definitely better.”

Mrs Mulcahy said it was hard to know if the longer trains would be sufficient for commuters until the service was up and running but the new 30-minute shuttle on the line, due to be introduced in May, would help.

She said: “There’s an element of wait and see about it and it depends where the trains are coming from, whether they are empty ones from Reading or from further away.”

Neil Gunnell, of Henley Trains, said: “We’re pleased that GWR responded quickly to calls from the user groups.

“The question will be capacity on the morning branch shuttles to Twyford for connection on to larger electric trains, which will replace the trains currently going right through to London.

“Three cars is definitely better than two but some standing may still be required for a short distance to Twyford. Time will tell. Overall, more frequent trains, bigger daytime and evening trains is progress, with more to come. When electrification comes, the electric trains come as four cars and we can expect further expansion.”

GWR says it will be undertaking customer counts in the New Year. A spokesman said: “The number of carriages required to serve Henley, Shiplake and Wargrave on the branch line is not yet finalised. We anticipate that three-car turbo trains will be deployed on the majority of services.”

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