Monday, 23 July 2018

More frequent shuttle service welcomed

CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the proposed introduction of a half-hour shuttle service on the Henley branch line.

CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the proposed introduction of a half-hour shuttle service on the Henley branch line.

Great Western Railway plans to bring in the new timetable to replace the existing service, which runs every 45 minutes.

The new service would offer faster travel for residents of Henley, Shiplake and Twyford but would negatively affect those in Wargrave as the village would be missed out by alternate trains during off-peak, meaning it would only have an hourly service.

Patricia Mulcahy, who chairs the Henley Branch User Group, said: “It is good news for Henley commuters. At certain times of day the trains get very crowded so with a more frequent service you have more options.

“It’s about the greater good for the greater number of users. The 30-minute service has been seen as a good thing but all along the difficulty has been the resistance put up by the Wargrave Users’ Group.

“It would be incomprehensible to turn down a 30-minute service if lots of people would benefit from it. From my own personal view, a 30-minute service has to be better than a 45-minute one.”

Neil Gunnell, who runs the Henley Trains action group, said: “This has to be good for the overall economy of the area.

“As we understand it, the proposed change isn’t so much about faster trains for the people of Henley but more frequent daytime off-peak trains up and down the branch as a whole.

“These would have consistent hourly timing and optimised connections on and off the main line at Twyford. At present, because the timings are different every hour, it’s hard to remember train times and, worse than that, some trains have good onward connections while others do not.”

GWR says its plans will benefit the majority of passengers who use the branch line and that additional services could be provided at Wargrave once the line is electrified in 2019. But Maidenhead MP Theresa May says she is disappointed about Wargrave services being reduced and has written to GWR managing director Mark Hopwood.

She said: “It is very disappointing that GWR intend to press ahead with cuts to off-peak services at Wargrave. It is not acceptable for my constituents in Wargrave to be disadvantaged so that passengers in Henley can have a faster service.

“GWR need to explain why this won’t be subject to a formal consultation and, if this goes ahead, they need to provide a firm commitment that half-hourly services will be provided from Wargrave as soon as possible once the line has been electrified.”

Philip Meadowcroft, founder of the Wargrave Users’ Group, said he didn’t see the point in bringing in new services only to change them again after the line was electrified in 2019.

A GWR spokesman said: “With complex timetables, we cannot improve services for the majority of users without having an impact on some others.”

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