Sunday, 21 July 2019

At last, Wargrave won’t lose rail service during regatta

At last, Wargrave won’t lose rail service during regatta

Henley Royal Regatta

RAIL users in Wargrave say the village’s train service during next month’s Henley Royal Regatta will be a “big improvement” on previous years.

Trains using the branch line between the main line and Henley usually do not stop at Wargrave station during the five days of the rowing event.

This has meant that passengers who normally travel from the village have to use a replacement bus or catch a taxi.

But this year, most Great Western Railway services will stop at Wargrave during the regatta, which will take place from Wednesday to Sunday, July 3 to 7.

The exception is the Saturday, the busiest day of the event, when a replacement bus service will be in operation.

The timetable changes have been welcomed by the Wargrave User Group, which represents passengers and has been pressing GWR for a fairer service for locals during the regatta since the group was founded in 2014.

Founder Philip Meadowcroft said: “It is not perfect but a great improvement on the past.

“It is only on regatta Saturday that services will skip Wargrave because the station platform cannot accommodate the seven-coach trains scheduled to be used only on that day.”

He said the bus service would operate half hourly between Wargrave and Twyford, leaving the respective stations two minutes later than the normal train departure times.

During the other four days of the regatta there will be four-carriage trains on the Henley branch line all day, with two trains per hour travelling from Twyford to Henley via Wargrave and Shiplake and in reverse but not calling at Shiplake. Anyone travelling from Shiplake to Wargrave or Twyford will face a longer journey time of about 12 minutes as they will have to go to Henley first.

The seven-carriage trains will be in use on the Saturday to cope with the expected higher demand. The regatta timetable will be displayed on a poster at Wargrave station.

GWR will review how the new timetable has performed after the regatta.

Meanwhile, the shelter at Wargrave station has been refurbished.

It has been repainted in GWR’s corporate dark green as part of a project to revamp the station.

The train company has also offered £500 towards the cost of new equipment, including a bike rack, seating and signage.

Chris Bennett and Judi Rowlands, who are members of the user group, suggested the idea and also want to install new planters on the railings to improve the appearance of the area. Mr Meadowcroft said: “A big thank you to Chris and Judi for their successful badgering of GWR to improve the appearance of the station.

“We still await GWR’s sign-off on acceptable planters which Chris and Judi are wanting to install and once GWR releases the key to the new village noticeboard it will be in use.

“A new three-seater bench should also be fitted soon to replace the ghastly low level one currently in place.

“Last month, Network Rail strimmed the verge on the car park side of the platform railings and applied an appropriate weedkiller.”

In March, six volunteers helped clear an embankment at the station in preparation for the refurbishment project using their own garden tools, buckets and bin bags.

They included parish councillor Mike Etwell and his wife Lesley and other members of the user group.

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