Direct train service from Weston to London under threat
The direct train service from Weston-super-Mare to London could be lost under new franchise plans for Great Western trains.
The introduction of an electrified rail network between London and Bristol Temple Meads, cutting off Weston station, could see passengers travelling between London and Weston-super-Mare having to change trains in Bristol.
North Somerset Council and its West of England partners have this week written to the Secretary of State for Transport highlighting concerns on the new details of the Great Western Franchise.
The Great Western Franchise is a 15-year scheme which will see passengers benefit from new express trains, additional capacity, smart card ticketing and passenger satisfaction targets as part of proposals which have been put forward by Rail Minister Theresa Villiers.
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North Somerset Council says it welcomes the recent publication of the invitation to tender for the franchise, but has highlighted concerns over the Weston service.
Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, executive member for highways and transport in North Somerset, said: "As a major tourist resort and with a resident population of close to 100,000, through links to London are vital. Expecting passengers to change trains at Bristol Temple Meads will reduce links between the town and major cities and discourage rail travel. These plans will also have a major impact on local commuters travelling out of Weston to Bath and other stations beyond Bristol Temple Meads and could discourage new businesses from setting up in the town."
The letter to the Secretary of State for Transport highlights a recent Great Western Franchise research survey (July 2012) which revealed that 40 per cent of rail passengers were unlikely to make the journey if they had to change trains. This proposal could have a major impact on passenger numbers for the London to Weston-super-Mare service.