Monday, 30 November 2020

Villagers urged to protest at threat to train services

RESIDENTS of Wargrave have been urged to oppose plans to reduce the village’s train services.

RESIDENTS of Wargrave have been urged to oppose plans to reduce the village’s train services.

John Halsall, who represents Wargrave and Remenham on Wokingham Borough Council, is concerned that the number of trains calling at Wargrave could be reduced to allow two trains per hour to travel between Henley and Twyford.

The Western Route Study produced by Network Rail suggests “reductions in the number of intermediate calls” on the Henley branch line with Wargrave station among the stops that could be sacrificed. Councillor Halsall wants villagers to write to Network Rail to protest.

He said: “I think these changes will be detrimental. Network Rail has admitted a six per cent increase annually in usage on the branch line so if you get a lesser service it will be very difficult. What we need is an improved service to cope with the increased volumes.

“Timetable changes, electrification and Crossrail may significantly change the train service on the Henley branch line, particularly for Wargrave residents.” Train operator First Great Western is proposing to run half-hour shuttle trains between Henley and Twyford, via Shiplake, all day whereas currently the off-peak service is every 45 minutes.

This plan, which could take effect in May, would result in only an hourly off-peak service to and from Wargrave. This was one of the ideas it put forward to improve the Henley branch line after complaints by commuters about delays.

In April, commuters set up the Henley Branch Line Users Group to represent the views of passengers in Henley, Shiplake and Wargrave. A separate group for Wargrave rail travellers was formed in November after residents accused the Henley group of not doing enough to involve commuters in Wargrave.

Cllr Halsall said he believed that all services would be able to stop at Wargrave once the branch line was electrified and faster electric trains could be used on the track.

However, there are fears that the electrification of the branch line could be delayed until 2024 at the earliest if money is diverted to help resource work on the main line. Cllr Halsall said: “We need as many people as possible to write to me or Network Rail and join the users group so it becomes a proper force for Network Rail to contend with.

“The Wargrave user group has to be a good pressure group otherwise these organisations go with the easy option. Please make your voice known.”

People can write to Network Rail by email to western and to Cllr Halsall at cherwell

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