RAIL commuters will face longer journey times if Crossrail comes into use before electrification of the
RAIL commuters will face longer journey times if Crossrail comes into use before electrification of the Henley branch line, it has been claimed.
The Henley Branch User Group says travel times from Henley to London would increase by half an hour.
The pressure group was responding to a report on the replanning of Network Rail’s investment programme.
Michael Porter, secretary of the group, said Sir Peter Hendy’s report did not “entirely” take into account the needs of passengers using the Henley branch line.
He said: “The introduction of the electric trains into passenger service on the branch is now scheduled for some time after the start of April 2019.
“Crossrail is due to come into service in December 2019 and there will be a significant degradation in the service unless the new timetables with full electric service on the branch line are not already in place.
“Current best peak-hour journey times for commuters between Henley and Paddington are in the region of 45 minutes. With the introduction of Crossrail on its own, this journey time, including waiting time at Twyford, would increase to between 60 minutes to 70 minutes.
“With electrification and a 30-minute service interval on the line, this can be reduced to just under one hour. With a connecting fast Great Western Railway service on the mainline we could have a journey time of equal to or better than that enjoyed currently.”
Mr Porter said the group was concerned about the effect of delays in the “apparently piecemeal” electrification dates for Newbury, Didcot and Oxford would have on the stopping services calling at Twyford from now until 2019.
“The onward connections from Twyford to London and Reading are vital to branch line users,” she said. “We do not want to see any reduction in the intervals or travel times on these trains while the electrification work is carried out.
Mr Porter also said the work required to raise the clearance under five bridges on the line was a concern.
He said: “We have previously been informed that Shiplake Bridge is due significant repairs/refurbishment by 2017. Any works here that take place before the main electrification project should be carried out in a way that minimises the need for further works and disruption on the bridge during the main electrification works.”