Friday, 20 July 2018

Commuters fear delay in branch line upgrade

ELECTRIFICATION of the Henley branch line is not guaranteed, says a passenger watchdog.

ELECTRIFICATION of the Henley branch line is not guaranteed, says a passenger watchdog.

The Henley Branch Users Group fears that the work could be delayed because Network Rail’s electrification programme is over budget.

Deputy chairman Patrick Fleming told a meeting of town council’s town and community committee: “We have concerns about whether the money will be there to electrify the branch.

“We don’t want to spread alarm but we do want to know what’s going on. It is important to say that electrification is not certain.”

He said that without electrification the Henley branch line would be 40 per cent more expensive to run, which it says would mean either a reduction in service and or an increase in fares.

By comparison, electrification and would mean a regular, non-stop 30-minute service between Henley and London. “That is what we want to happen,” said Mr Fleming.

Town and county councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “The Network Rail programme is over budget but they are determined to keep it on time because they are required to have it open by a certain date.

“The first engine is arriving in March and they are setting up a test track between Reading and Didcot.”

The group was launched in April last year to give feedback on train services and several meetings have already been held with Network Rail and First Great Western.

Neil Gunnell, the group’s secretary, said the group had built a good relationship with the train company.

This had resulted in an earlier outgoing train from Henley on Sunday mornings and a later last train from London during the week.

Mr Gunnell said the group has set up a mailing list, discussion group and Twitter account so it can report feedback to FGW.

Patricia Mulcahy, who chairs the group, added: “We are very keen to extend the membership of HBUG and we would encourage people to join the group.

“When it comes to consultation we want to be able to be as representative as possible and not be just for commuters.”

To join HBUG, email, follow @HenleyBUG on Twitter or sign up to

• There will be no trains leaving Henley over the Easter bank holiday weekend. Tghere will be a replacement bus service instead.

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