Friday, 19 August 2022

Villagers lose trains to regatta

RAIL campaigners in Wargrave say they are “appalled” that no trains will stop at the village on the Saturday of Henley Royal Regatta.

Great Western Railway, which runs services on the Henley branch line, says a minibus service will replace trains for passengers from Wargrave.

But this means that people will have to travel to Twyford or Shiplake stations before catching a train to Henley, or make other arrangements.

The non-stop service is designed to transport passengers travelling to the regatta from outside the region, including those from London.

Philip Meadowcroft, who founded the Wargrave User Group, said passengers at Wargrave station had not been told about the changes, which could lead to problems during the regatta.

He said: “We are appalled by GWR’s inadequate communication skills in respect of services on the branch line during Henley Royal Regatta. It is only providing timetable information online, no handy printed leaflets, although it has promised to post details at all stations immediately prior to June 28.”

From Wednesday to Friday, trains travelling to Henley on the branch line will not call at Wargrave between 8.48am and 5.13pm.

Return journeys will call at the station every half hour, apart from between 8.29am and 9.25am and 4.54pm to 8.25pm, while return journeys to Shiplake will only be available between 6.06am and 8.29am.

On Saturday, minibus services will leave every hour from Wargrave to Twyford stations and the same route in reverse. However, the train service will stop at nearby Shiplake every 30 minutes.

The minibuses are timed to connect with the non-stop service at Twyford and the total journey time between Wargrave and Henley will be about 30 minutes.

On Sunday, there will be an hourly service from Wargrave to Henley and in reverse, starting at 8.49am and continuing to 9.49pm before a final service at 10.19pm.

A spokesman for GWR said: "We have worked to maintain the morning and evening peak services taking commuters into London in the morning and home again in the evening from Wargrave but the number and length of additional trains required to support the regatta prevents us from being able to do this for every service and on the Saturday.

"The reason for this is two-fold: we provide longer trains for regatta customers and the platform at Wargrave is not long enough to be able to stop longer trains; and the time taken to load/unload passengers at Henley and Twyford means that we have to reduce the number of stops to provide enough services to meet the significant increase in demand. 

"We provide over 60 additional trains each day to support the world-renowned Henley Royal Regatta, or 312 more services in total, catering for an estimated 34,000 extra customers."

Meanwhile, the Henley Branch User Group’s committee will meet at the Bull in High Street, Wargrave, on Monday from 7pm.

Guests and members of the Wargrave User Group will be able to share their experiences of the new timetable before the committee holds its own meeting from 8pm.

Mr Meadowcroft said: “This is the opportunity for WUGGERs to air their praises and criticisms.”

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